If you regularly have documents you need to print, then you can do so directly from the Finder. While you might think of first opening a document in a program and then choosing Print from the File menu, you can also do this in the Finder by selecting the document and then pressing Command-P. This will open the document and then immediately invoke the print command on it.
Note that this routine will use the default printing options for the document, so you will not be able to set print layouts and margins as you normally can do in the print dialogue box. When the document has finished printing, it will close so as not to clutter your Desktop.
This routine may seem a bit unnecessary at first, but if you have a number of documents you would like to print, then this can be used to send them all to the printer at once. Simply select them all, and then press Command-P to send them to the printer.
- Go to the Print & Scan system preferences and drag the desired printer to a Finder folder (e.g, the Desktop) or to the Dock.
- Print a document, and when the queue opens in the Dock, right-click it and choose the option to keep it in the Dock.
With either of these, you will have an alias or a Dock item that represents the print queue. Now, to print a file, you simply need to drag it to the queue and it should print. You can also do so for multiple files to print batches at once.
While printing directly from the desktop may seem convenient, I don’t care for the lack of control. Putting the printer app in the Dock is a better solution, in my opinion. Or on the desktop if you hanker for the Desktop Printer of yore. 😉 Though, knowing how cluttered most people’s desktops are I think the Dock is a more efficient way to go. Another reason, besides being able to drag documents to the printer queue, is to check that queue when problems arise. I recently helped a friend who couldn’t get his printer to work; it turned he had the printer set on pause, though he had no idea such a function even existed. And we had to delete the dozen or so documents he had stacked up in the queue before the printer ran them all.
But, in most cases, the printer – as you drag it from the Print & Fax preference pane – or from where you locate the app on your hard drive – does more than control the print queue. Usually it will provide access to printer utility software from which you can troubleshoot and do routine maintenance on the printer and, perhaps most important, check ink levels.
If you have a multifunction printer, as most people seem to do these days, you can switch from the printer to the scanner in the printer app, from where you can use OS X’s scan dialog in conjunction with the device software. This is great for people who don’t have, or know how to use, independent scanning software.
In sum, I sing the praises of humble printer driver software which we seldom notice unless something goes wrong. And then it’s invaluable. It would certainly help to be aware of how to use it before trouble arises rather than trying to figure it out under deadline pressure or other stressful conditions – when problem solving is most difficult.