What is a print driver and what does it do?

What is a print driver and what does it do?

(Submitted by Joe Sanchez)

Have you ever wondered what exactly IS a print driver? A print driver is software that allows your computer to interact with your printer. The driver translates instructions sent from your operating system or application software so that your printer can understand them, allowing the printer to respond properly—i.e., print your jobs correctly.

There are many different types of operating systems such as Windows, DOS, and iOS, for example. There is also a wide variety of printers such as Sharp, Ricoh, and HP, to name a few. To allow such a vast array of software and hardware to communicate, there needs to be a translator between the two. The print driver serves this purpose.

Technically, the print driver converts your document into a Page Description Language (PDL) that your printer can read. These languages describe the content on a page and how that content is arranged. Therefore, when your page is printed, it looks the same as it did in the application that you created it in.


Another task that the print driver handles is the print settings. This is a setting, or a group of settings, that you have selected as a preferred default for all your documents. For example, if you only want to print in black and white versus in color, or if you want to print on both sides of the paper versus one-sided. By pre-selecting these settings, you ensure that all your documents will be printed the way that you want every time. However, these default print settings can still be easily changed with each individual print job just in case you are working on something that needs to be printed in a different format.

Hopefully now you have a better understanding of print drivers and their purpose. If you have further questions, feel free to contact us using the form on our Contact Us page.

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