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How to Update Printer Settings for the Highest Quality Printing
June 27, 2019
Whether you’re printing out a cherished memory from your recent vacation to Hawaii or preparing your resume for an important job interview, quality is everything when it comes to printing. If you’re wondering where to print high-quality photos, we’ve got some news for you. It’s really as easy as hitting “print” right from your home printer.
But sometimes your printer has a mind of its own and decides what kind of print you want before you even have the time to visualize your masterpiece or memory come-to-life. This could mean the high-quality print you had in mind turns out to be less vibrant or refined than you hoped. In this “how to” we’ll show you how to update your printer settings so that you get high-quality prints, every time you want them.
Why isn’t my printer printing high-quality prints?
Your printer probably doesn’t mean you and your documents and photos any harm. Many printers have default settings in order to save on ink, paper, and energy. So just because you didn’t get a high-quality print the first time you used the device, doesn’t mean you can’t get the high-quality photo prints you’d get at a professional printing storefront.
You may just need to change the settings on your device, and voilà! Consider your print quality problem solved. Now, let’s discuss where you can find your printer’s settings.
Where do I find the print settings?
There are two ways you can find your printer’s settings. The first is to begin the print process as usual. But when the printer dialogue box comes up, and before you click “Print,” take a moment to change your printer’s preferences.
The second way is to consult the system preferences from your Windows 10 start menu. The first option will change your settings for a single print, and the second will change your printer’s default settings.
You can also toggle through settings on your printer itself, which allows you to enter eco-friendly mode (lower quality print setting) to save ink or restore defaults.
1. Update printer settings for a single print
If you want to update your printer settings just for the document you’re currently printing, follow these steps as you print as usual. Keep in mind, this method does not change your printer’s default settings, meaning the next thing you print will use the original default settings. This method works for both Windows and Mac users.
1. Open the photo or document you want to print
2. Click “File”
3. Click “Print”
4. Click “Properties,” “printer properties,” or “preferences,” whichever one applies to your printing device
5. Change paper size, paper type, duplex printing, quality, etc.
2. Update default printer settings for all prints
The second way you can adjust your printer’s settings for high-quality printing is to go to your system preferences and make the changes from there. When you do this, you are changing the printer’s default settings, so every print following the change will be produced using these new settings. If you want to revert the printer settings, simply follow this process again or click the “restore defaults” button.
Follow these steps to change your printer’s default settings:
1. Type “Devices” into the main search bar at the bottom left of your screen
2. Select “Devices and Printers” from the results list
3. Right click on the appropriate printer icon
4. Select “Printing Preferences”
5. Change print settings, click “OK”
6. Ready, set, print!
Understanding high-quality print settings
From various sizing and margin options to autorotation and resizing, it can be a challenge to identify which print settings you should be using to produce the best prints possible. Let’s go over some of the features on the printer preferences screen, and what they do for your prints.
Print quality: The print quality setting will do just as the name says, impact the overall quality of the print. The “Best” setting will produce the printer’s best print quality at the slowest printing speed. “Fast” will print a draft quality quick print.
DPI: If your printer has an option to select “Maximum DPI,” use this to get the highest resolution print.
- 300 dpi does the trick
- 600 dpi looks great with graphics
- 1200 dpi is ready to be sent to the company executives
- 1440+ dpi is professional-level photographic print quality
Paper type: If you’re using photo paper in an effort to achieve the best quality photo prints possible, you’ll want to make sure your printer knows. Your printer will automatically default to regular paper, so if you’re using photo paper, resume paper, or labels, select the appropriate paper setting to get the optimal print.
Auto duplex: On a mission to save trees? Activate the autorotate setting to command your device to print the document on both sides to minimize paper use.
Color: It’s not all black and white. If you want high quality black and white prints, you may want to opt for grayscale instead. Grayscale uses a variety of mixed colors to produce high quality black and white prints.
Color management: Printing an original design from Adobe Photoshop or InDesign? The color management setting allows the application you’re printing from to control the printing color options you’re using. This allows your printer to interpret colors derived from these apps so they come out as true to design as possible.
Other high-quality printing tips
Perhaps you’ve changed your printer’s settings to the best possible printing quality, but you’re still getting subpar prints. There are a few other things that can impact the integrity of your prints, besides the printing device settings. Use these tips to improve photo print and standard document quality.
Create in high resolution
Print resolution refers to the number of dots per inch (dpi) are in an image. The more dots, the more detail you get, and the higher the resolution. When saving a file for print, make sure to save the highest resolution possible for the best print.
Use original files
If you’re sending large image files back and forth to your colleagues, it might be tempting to print from an email or even a screenshot. But if high-quality photo prints are what your heart desires, stop right there and reconsider. Printing from a duplicate file could mean you sacrifice the resolution with a compressed image. If you can print in the application, definitely do so!
Choose the right ink or toner
Before you print, decide whether you want to print on an inkjet printer or a laser printer. An inkjet printer uses traditional printer ink, while a laser printer uses a material called toner.
Inkjet printers can create higher-quality color prints. An inkjet is good at blending different ink colors to create prints that have a very dynamic color range.
Here’s how an inkjet printer works:
As the paper is rolled through the printer, ink is dropped onto the paper through small nozzles. The nozzles move back and forth across the paper dropping ink. It’s a slower process than a laser printer, but the color quality is amazing. One drawback to an inkjet printer is that it can’t print diagonal lines as well because of the rigid horizontal motion of the nozzles.
Laser printer basics:
A laser printer is very good at creating diagonal lines, so if you need to print charts, graphs, or plans, you might considering printing on an HP LaserJet. A laser printer utilizes electromagnetism to print your image.
There’s a roller inside the printer that’s given a positive charge. The laser traces a negatively charged outline of your image on the positively charged roller. That’s where the toner comes in. Toner is an ink particle that’s like a grain of sand. The grains of toner are given a positive charge. They’re released onto the roller and are immediately attracted to the negatively charged trace.
Laser printers don’t print color images as well as inkjet printers because laser printers aren’t as good at mixing colors. But one big upside to a laser printer is that it prints incredibly fast. Additionally, one single cartridge of toner can print many more pages than a single cartridge of ink. So if you need to print a large volume of documents, a laser printer might be the way to go.
Choose the right paper
Choosing the right paper is just as important as choosing the right ink. There are lots of different kinds of paper to choose from. It all depends on what you’re printing. There are three main types of photo paper for high-quality prints: matte paper, glossy paper, and luster paper.
Matte paper has a silky, smooth finish. The color isn’t very shiny and has more of a flat finish. It’s very durable, which makes it good for printing brochures or handouts. You can also use it to matte a photograph that you’re framing.
Glossy paper is the opposite of matte paper. The colors are very bright and sharp, even shiny. This is one of the best papers for printing high-quality photographs.
Luster paper is a middle-ground between matte and glossy paper. The color is more vibrant than matte paper, but it’s not quite as shiny as glossy paper.
Try printing on all three types of papers to see which one you like the best.
Check print preview beforehand
Before you hit “Print,” make sure everything looks as you want it to by checking the print preview. This can save paper and ink as well as ensure the quality of your print is everything you expected, and more.
About the Author: Sophie Sirois is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Sophie is a San Diego-based content creation specialist covering the latest in tech and digital news.