Printing and Faxing Documents

OS X offers useful tools for using your printer, such as previewing your printouts and printing PDFs. Many applications feature handy print presets, from greeting-card layouts in iPhoto, to a pocket-sized contacts list in Address Book. The OS X built-in fax feature can also come in handy.

Print and Fax on Mac

How to Set Up a Printer

Most printers are compatible with OS X. In most cases, there is no need to install the software that came with the printer, as the Mac has hundreds of printer drivers pre-loaded. Just plug it in, click File – Print in nearly any application, and the new printer should appear in the Printer dropdown.

If this method fails, the Printer dropdown should show an Add Printer option. Users can also add new printers by opening System Preferences – Print & Fax, then clicking the + icon at the bottom of the left-hand panel. A list of available printers will appear. Now, select the one you want and click Add. The printer will now be ready to use..

How to Share Printers on a Network

If you have two or more computers, you can easily share one printer between them all. The best set-up is to connect your printer to the network’s router. However, this isn’t always an option, as most routers lack a USB port, and most printers lack an Ethernet port. You can plug a USB printer into an AirPort Extreme Base Station, Time Capsule, or AirPort Express. If this does not work, launch the AirPort Utility from Applications – Utilities.

The most common method is to connect the printer and then tell the computer to share it over the network. On a Mac, click the Printer Sharing box on the left of the sharing pane of System Preferences. Obviously, the computer the printer is connected to will need to be switched on in order for the other computers to print through it. From the Print & Fax pane of System Preferences, you can set a default printer and view your printer’s print queue, a list of not-yet-completed print jobs.

Printing and Presets

In most applications, you can print by choosing Print from the File menu, or by using the shortcut Command key+P. This action will usually elicit a box where you can try lots of customizable layout options and effects. If you create a configuration that you would like to use again, you can choose Save As… from the Presets dropdown. You will then be able to quickly access those settings in the future, from almost any app. You can use the Preview button to get an accurate idea of how a printed page will look, and then hit Print.

How to Print a PDF

Portable Document Format (or PDF for short) is a file format developed by Adobe. This format is widely used for everything from press releases to product manuals, and for sending publications to printers. PDF files can combine text, fonts, and images in a convenient bundle that can be viewed on practically any computer. Hence the “portable” tag.

PDFs are ideal for sending by email, as the file size will be comparatively tiny compared to the original document converted to PDF. With OS X, you can annotate PDFs with text labels and circles. It is also possible to password protect a PDF. To do so, press File – Print, then choose Encrypt PDF from the PDF button’s dropdown in the print dialog box.

To create PDFs from any application, click File – Print and use the PDF button at the bottom of the box. PDFs are a great way to send documents to other people, since you know they will be able to open them, and the document will look the same on their computer as it did on your Mac. When you click Print, you can choose to create a PDF and attach it to an email in one fell swoop. PDFs can also be useful for your own records. For example, when you register on a website, or book a holiday over the Internet, instead of copying out all the on-screen information and reference numbers, simply print a PDF of the Webpage straight from Safari. OS X opens PDFs with Preview, though there is also a version of Adobe Reader for Mac.

Fax Machine

You can fax directly form a computer without using a fax machine. It is much easier and more convenient, as instead of printing a document and feeding the hard copy into another device, you send the fax directly from your word processor or any other application. All faxes you receive will appear in your email inbox. You will need to use your Mac’s built-in dial-up modem to send faxes, as the broadband connection cannot handle faxing.

To send a fax, click File – Print in any application, then choose Fax PDF from the PDF dropdown. Now, enter the number of the recipient (or choose a contact from Address Book, using the silhouette button), add a cover page, if you want one, and then click Fax. The fax will now be sent, unless you are using your dial-up modem to connect to the Internet. In this case, OS X will hold the fax until you disconnect.

To receive a fax on your Mac, open the Print & Fax panel of System Preferences. In the Faxing pane, check the Receive faxes box, enter your phone number, and choose how you would like your Mac to handle your incoming faxes. You can have faxes automatically printed, or forwarded to an email account so you can view new documents sent by fax even if you are away from home.

Tips for Printing

From the Print & Fax pane of System Preferences, you can set a default printer and view your printer’s print queue.

From the Printers menu of the Printer Setup utility, choose Create Desktop Printer, or use Command key+Shift+D, to place an icon and drag files to print them straight from Finder.

If your printer stops responding, visit the Printing pane of Print & Fax in System Preferences. Try removing and re-adding the offending printer – this often does the trick.

It is possible to set a document to print or fax at some point later in the day. To do this, click File – Print, choose Scheduler from the Copies & Pages dropdown menu, then set a time.

You can also let other computers on your network send faxes through your Mac’s modem by ticking the Let others send faxes through this computer box from the Sharing pane of Print & Fax Preferences.


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This post currently has 3 responses

  • Who faxes documents these days I wonder. Printing it’s another matter.

  • Do they still use fax in the United States? I wonder because here in Germany we still use it, but I haven’t seen fax-machine for long time in neighbouring countries. Thank you.

    • Yes, we still use fax machines, but these machines give way to e-mails, what’s up and other ways of communication.

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