Windows 7 : Changing a Printer's Properties

8/7/2012 3:57:26 PM
When you add a printer, the wizard adds an icon for it in the Devices and Printers window, and it’s ready to go. At that point, you can start using it, or you can adjust its preferences and properties to suit your taste.

Each printer driver several sets of preference and roperties dialogs, each with enough settings to choke a horse. 

Different printers have different features, and your printer’s driver will dictate the particular set of options that will be available. Because of the variations possible, the following sections describe only the most general and common options. (In other words, your fancy new printer may have options we’ve never even heard of.)


Each printer has also a Properties dialog box, but on Windows 7, it’s of no use because of how the new Devices and Printers window is organized. (The Properties dialog is useful for most other devices.) It takes a little getting used to, because in all previous versions of Windows, to configure a printer you would right-click its icon and select Properties. In Windows 7, you must use the other three choices that I just mentioned.

As I mentioned, there are several sets of printer properties and preferences, each of which serves a different purpose:

  • Printing Preferences— These are the default settings that each application will start with when you use the application’s Print function. These include paper size, page orientation, and paper source. Although many applications have a Print Setup command that lets you make changes for an individual document, each application starts with the selections made in the printer’s Printing Preferences.

    Preferences are per-user settings. Each computer user can set his or her own printing preferences.

  • Printer Properties— These are settings that apply to the printer itself, most of which tell Windows how to communicate with the printer, what capabilities and optional features it has, and so on. Printer properties also include settings that determine the initial printing preferences for each user.

  • Print Server Properties— These are settings that apply to all printers used by the computer. They include paper size and form definitions.

The three sets of printer settings are described in the following sections.


If the Layout tab is not present, you should be able to set the default page orientation on the Paper/Quality or Effects tabs. If your printer’s preferences dialog looks like the one shown in Figure 1, as it does on at least some Hewlett-Packard laser printers, you must click on an icon to change the orientation. I have no idea why they’d make such an important setting so unobvious.

Figure 1. On some Hewlett-Packard printers, to change the default page orientation, you must click the icon in the right side of the Printing Preferences window.

Printing Preferences

If you find yourself having to change the same page setup settings nearly every time you go to print something, you save can yourself time by changing the setting in the Printing Preferences dialog. These settings are used as the defaults whenever you select a printer in one of your applications.

To change your personal printing preferences for a particular printer, click Start, Devices and Printers. Right-click the printer icon and select Printing Preferences. The number of tabs and the choices they offer vary widely from printer to printer. I describe them in general terms in Table 1.

Table 1. Printing Preferences Tabs
TabWhat It Controls
LayoutLandscape or portrait paper orientation, the number of pages placed on each sheet, and so on.
Paper/QualityBin or feed slot to use, type of paper, and so on.
EffectsPage resizing, watermarks, and so on
FinishingStapling, duplexing (two-sided printing), collating, binding, and so on.
AdvancedPrinter features, color management, and in some cases, paper and layout choices.
ServicesLeads to manufacturer web pages and online services.

If you want to change a printer’s default preferences for all users, view its Printer Properties, as described in the next section, and click Printing Defaults on the Advanced tab. This brings up the Printing Preferences dialog, but the settings serve as the default settings for all users. They can then customize their printing preferences from that starting point.

Printer Properties

To make changes to a printer driver or its physical connection to your computer, or to define some of the default settings that will be supplied to every user, click Start, Devices and Printers. Right-click the printer icon and select Printer Properties. (That’s Printer Properties, not just plain Properties.) This displays a dialog like that shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. A typical printer’s Printer Properties dialog box. The settings available vary among printers. Some have more or fewer tabs.


Each time you add a printer, Windows creates an icon for it in the Devices and Printers window. Although each is called a printer, it is actually just a “pointer” to the printer, much the way a shortcut represents a document or application on the Windows desktop. A given physical printer can have multiple icons, each with different default settings. For example, one could be set to print in landscape orientation on legal-size paper, whereas another printer could default to portrait orientation with letter-size paper. Of course, you can always adjust these settings when you go to print a document, but that can get tedious. If you create multiple printer icons for the same printer, with different, descriptive names, you can choose a setup just by selecting the appropriate printer icon.

A printer’s Properties dialog box can have any of several tabs. Table 2 shows the general breakdown. Again, the tabs you’ll see can vary depending on the capabilities of your printer.

Table 2. Printer Properties Tabs
TabWhat It Controls
GeneralThis tab lists the name, location, model number, and features of the printer. From this tab, you can print a test page. You also can click the Preferences button to change your personal printing preferences (the same settings described in the previous section) Some color printers may have settings for paper quality and color control and buttons for maintenance functions on this tab.
SharingOn this tab, you can alter whether the printer is shared with other network users and what the share name is.
PortsOn this tab, you can select the printer’s connection port, add and delete ports, and in some cases configure the physical connection itself. This tab also lets you set up additional ports for network-connected printers.
AdvancedThis tab controls time availability, printer priority, driver file changes, spooling options, and advanced printing features such as booklet printing and page ordering. The first two settings are pertinent to larger networks and should be handled by a server administrator.

Booklet printing is worth looking into if you do lots of desktop publishing. Using this option, you can print pages laid out for stapling together small pamphlets.

The New Driver button on the Advanced tab lets you replace the current driver with a better one, should this be necessary.

The Printing Defaults button lets you set the default printing properties supplied to each user. They can then customize them as described in the previous section.
Color ManagementOn this tab, you can set optional color profiles on color printers, if this capability is supported.
SecurityThis tab let you control who has access to print, manage printers, or manage documents from this printer.
Device SettingsThe settings on this tab vary greatly among printers. For example, you can set paper size in each tray, tell Windows how much RAM is installed in the printer, and substitute fonts.
AboutLists the printer’s driver components.
UtilitiesThis tab, if present, might contain options for inkjet nozzle cleaning, head cleaning, head alignment, and so on.
BluetoothThis tab, if present, contains information about your Bluetooth printer and connection in case you need to troubleshoot connection problems.

Print Server Properties

To define paper sizes or forms, or to change the location of the spooling folder that is used to hold data being sent to the printer, click Start, Devices and Printers. Select any printer icon, and then select Print Server Properties up near the top of the window.

  •  Windows 7 : Burning Your Pictures to CD or DVD
  •  Tips, Tricks & Tweaks: Windows Media Player (Part 2)
  •  Tips, Tricks & Tweaks: Windows Media Player (Part 1)
  •  AG Neovo U-23 : monitor with a 1920x1080 Full HD resolution
  •  Philips E-line 237E3QPHSU : Full HD IPS display with white LED backlighting
  •  MacBook Pro - The Ultimate Combination
  •  LG IPS235V : Full HD monitor with an IPS panel
  •  IIYAMa Prolite XB2374HDS-1
  •  Gaming Laptop Recommendations (Part 2) - Intel HD Graphics, NVIDIA Geforce 6xxm Series, The Radeon HD 7xxxm Series
  •  Gaming Laptop Recommendations (Part 1) - Acer Aspire 5560G, HP Pavilion G6-1331EA, Lenovo IdeaPad Y570, Asus N53SV-SX858V, Dell XPS L702x
  •  Upgrading to Windows Server 2003 : Switching Forest and Domain Functional Levels
  •  Upgrading to Windows Server 2003 : Upgrading Clients to Windows XP, Upgrading Servers to the Windows Server 2003 Family
  •  EDGE10 EF240a
  •  Dell UltraSharp U2412M
  •  Choosing a... Monitor
  •  BenQ XL2420T
  •  Asus PA238Q
  •  AOC i2352Vh
  •  Mac Pro - Fully Expandable For High-End Users
  •  iMac - The Sleekest Desktop PC Ever
    Top 10
    Windows Vista : Internet Me (part 3) - Control Your PC Remotely,Manage the Nameserver Cache
    Windows Vista : Internet Me (part 2) - Test Your Throughput, Set Up Virtual Private Networking
    Windows Vista : Internet Me (part 1) - Share an Internet Connection
    Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 : Browsing for folders
    Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 : Building a lookup based on record description
    SharePoint 2010 : Throttle the Data Connection Response Size, Modify Authentication Settings, Configure Session State
    SharePoint 2010 : Access the InfoPath Form Services Options, Browser-Enable Form Templates, Throttle Data Connection Timeouts
    Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 : Modifying SQL Server Parameters
    Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 : Backing Up and Restoring the Database
    Capacity Efficiency - Create Sustainable Storage and Mitigate Rising Costs
    Most View
    Find Stunning Wallpapers
    Plain Text: Not Exactly Plain Sailing (Part 1)
    LINQ Projection Queries and Alternatives in WCF Services
    Home Theatre Pc Software And Operating Systems (Part 5) - MediaPortal
    Database Availability Group Replication in Exchange Server 2010 : Load Balancing in Exchange Server 2010
    HTPC Networking Consideration (Part 3) - Wireless Networking, Powerline To The Rescue
    Working with the windows 7 common file dialogs (part 3) - Defining a File Save Dialog
    SharePoint 2010 : SQL Server Database Mirroring for SharePoint Farms
    Building the WinPE Image
    AOC i2352Vh
    The Very Successful Hardware That Microsoft Has Ever Produced
    Lenovo Netbook Thinkpad X131e
    Understanding Mobile Networking and Remote Access in Vista
    Idisk - The Most Versatile Component Of Mobileme (Part 2)
    Windows 7 : Creating Backups and Preparing for Problems (part 2) - Scheduling and Managing Automated Backups
    Lenovo Ideapad Z575
    SQL Server 2005 : Advanced OLAP - Key Performance Indicators (part 1) - A Concrete KPI, Testing KPIs in Browser View
    Windows Home Server Installation and Configuration
    Installing Windows Small Business Server 2011 (part 2) - Understanding the Installation Process