How to use HP's driver website
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In this tutorial we will search for drivers for a HP LaserJet 4050 printer. Once we find the drivers on the manufacturer's website, we will download and install them. We will also test to see if the drivers work properly. Let's start by identifying the printer's problem.
Identifying the printer's problem
You have just plugged the printer to your computer, switched it on, and attempted printing a document. Here is where the problem appears – you are unable to print anything. Windows does not see any printer attached to the computer. How can this be when you have just plugged it in? There are quite a few errors that can lead to this behavior, but the most common one is the lack of hardware drivers for your printer. However, we must be sure that this is the problem.
Go to Start and open Control Panel. Double click on Printers and Faxes. If you see your window like in the image below, the hardware drivers for the printer are missing (or are malfunctioning):
This means that all we have to do to make our HP LaserJet 4050 printer work again is to find and install the proper drivers for it. Although this might sound like an easy task, it is far from that! There are numerous problems caused by wrong drivers, incomplete drivers, virus-infected drivers, etc. Here are a few real problems from real people:
- "I have a HP all-in-one printer and I recently bought a new computer with windows vista. I have used this printer to print stuff on it from my windows vista computer before, however, today it's not working, my computer is telling me it's installed but i cannot find it and it won't work when i try to use it, can someone please help me."
- "I'm using an older laptop, running windows XP home, and it's a 1.6 gig processor. Now, here's the problem. I went to print a 20 page document from Microsoft Word using my HP laser printer. So I started to print out pages. The thing gets to about page 10, and stops printing. Then, a few minutes later, more pages are printed, from page 11 through 13. Then, it stops again and in a few minutes more, 2 more pages are printed. Then, I get an error message and the printer stops working."
As you can see, driver problems can be very serious and can even lead to system crashes. The solution is simple: install the latest drivers for your printer!
Finding and Downloading the latest drivers
The latest drivers for my HP LaserJet 4050 printer can be found on the manufacturer's website. Generally, a manufacturer keeps a database of drivers for all their products. In our case the manufacturer is HP. So let's visit their website at www.hp.com. You can also google "HP" and the first result is the one you need. Here is how their main page looks like:
You will immediately notice the Support & Drivers category at the top. This is where we need to go! Place your mouse over the category and you will see the following page:
Select "Download drivers and software (and firmware) at step 1 (Selecting a Task). For Step 2, it is best to select a product category. In our case, the category is printing and multifunction. Go ahead and click that link to reach the following page:
As you can see in the image above, we can find the Printers category here. Go ahead and click it:
There are quite some categories on this page. We have a LaserJet printer, so we must find this specific category. You can see where it is in the picture above. Click on the link to get to the next page:
We know that our printer is a LaserJet 4050, so it is a in the HP LaserJet 4000 Printer series category. Click on it to reach the following page:
You will immediately notice your printer here. Go ahead and click on it to continue to the next page:
You must now select your language (English I presume) and operating system from the list. I personally work on Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP3, but you must choose your current operating system (might be 95, 98, Vista, etc). Click on the link to continue to the next page:
This page is very self-explanatory. You must choose what you need (application, driver, driver-universal print driver, or software). We need the driver, so scroll down until you reach that section (the Driver – Universal Print Driver). Select the HP Universal Print Driver for Windows - PCL6 and click Download:
The download window should appear. Choose Save File and save it to an easy to remember location on your hard drive. It is best to also save the file on a CD/DVD to have easy access to it later. Once the file is saved, go and double click it. You should see a security warning from Microsoft:
Since we know the file is legit, click Run. You will have to choose a location where to extract the temporary files. Leave the path as it is and click Unzip. After 90 files are extracted, the setup program will automatically start:
Click Yes to accept the terms of the license agreement. If you click No, setup will terminate. Here is the next window:
Choose traditional mode, make sure your printer is plugged in and turned on, and click Install. The installation process should take less than 1 minute. Restart your computer to allow Windows to make the necessary changes. Let's see if the printer is now recognized. Go to Control Panel, Printers and Faxes. Here is what you should see:
Congratulations! The printer is successfully installed and you can now print anything without a single problem!