How to Set Up a Printer and Avoid Bloatware

Photo by Fernando Arcos on Pexels.com

Last weekend, my parents bought a new wireless printer by HP. Our previous printer, also an HP, is ten years old and resides on my desk. It’s still a good printer, but it’s USB only—meaning that you can’t remotely print to it because it’s not on the network.

Fortunately, this new printer allows us to print from any device, anywhere in the house.

Unfortunately, when setting it up, HP wanted us to install their software package on every computer we’d be printing from.

Now, I think HP makes some really good printers. I’ve used Dell printers, too, and they are pretty well-made, too. The problem is, most printer manufacturers “require” you to install a bunch of software you don’t need in order to use the printer.

I call this software bloatware, because it slows your computer down.

The good news is, in most cases, you don’t have to install this software at all in order to interface with a printer. All you need is the driver.

A driver is a piece of software that creates a communications interface between your computer and a piece of hardware. Your computer already has dozens of drivers installed: one for your keyboard, one for your mouse, one for every USB drive you plug in, and more.

With printers, the principle is the same. Your computer needs a driver in order to send the printer the pages you want to print, as well as to receive any pertinent information from the printer, such as whether it’s low on ink.

When printer manufacturers want you to install all their software in order to interface with the printer, the driver is included in that software package. The thing is, you probably don’t need all the other software that they want you to install.

That’s not to say that this software isn’t useful in some way, but in my experience it can be more trouble than it’s worth. Our old HP printer “required” four separate programs to be installed, and if memory serves, I think we only ever used one—just one—of them.

The advantage of not installing the extra software (bloatware), of course, is that there’s a much lower chance that your computer will start slowing down. You’ll also eliminate a possible source of pop-ups or annoying prompts that appear when you’re normally using your computer.

The one disadvantage I can think of for not installing printer software is that you may not be able to use some of the printer’s features, such as scanning. However, there are usually ways around that, as well, as I’ll cover in a moment.

If you’re like me and you just want to install what’s necessary in order to get the printer up and running, follow these steps.

  1. Follow your printer’s installation instructions up to the point where it says to install the required software. If you’re setting up a USB printer, don’t connect it to your computer unless instructed. If you’re setting up a wireless printer, don’t sync your computer with the printer unless instructed.
  2. At this point, do a Google search for the printer’s make and model, and include the word “drivers”. Here’s an example: “HP Photosmart C4150 drivers” (that’s our old printer).
  3. Look carefully at the Google results and click on the manufacturer’s official website, when it appears. If your printer was made by Canon, look for Canon’s website (usa.canon.com). The first few results can be ads, and take you to the wrong sites. Don’t click on them.
  4. Choose the driver for your operating system. (If you’re not sure what operating system you have, try checking whatsmyos.com.) Find the list of software available for your printer, and download the files to install the drivers only.
  5. Once the download is complete, start the installation by opening the installation file (usually a single- or double-click will accomplish this).
  6. Follow the installation instructions in the driver.
  7. After the installation is complete, the driver should be installed—and you should be able to use your printer!

Before you go off on your own with these directions, there are a couple more things I’d like to note.

First: Read the fine print. In the case of my old printer, when I go to HP’s site and enter the printer info, I’m enticed to still download the entire software suite. If I want to download just the driver, I have to look for the “HP Photosmart Basic Driver”.

In this case, HP more or less forces you to install their full software suite, which is probably not what you want to do. Look at the file size—260 MB! I’ll note that a search for the “HP Photosmart Basic Driver” yielded no download page. They don’t make it easy. In this case, what you’d want to do is let your computer try to find the correct driver on its own (see below).

Second: Installation may even be easier than this. A lot of computers will find and automatically install drivers for you. My Mac automatically found and installed the requisite drivers for the wireless printer. Sometimes, Windows will do the same, installing the standalone driver without you having to hunt around for it. (If you can get the driver installed automatically, then you don’t need to follow the seven steps above!)

Most printers will scan to a USB drive or email scan results to your computer. Instead of starting the scan from your computer, you’ll need to do it from the printer itself via a menu or button option.

In summary, I don’t think all the extra printer software is bad; however, I see it as another way for the manufacturer to make money and an easy way for your computer to start slowing down. So, if you want to avoid those issues, just follow these directions!


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 1548894625.jpg

What if I told you that you could quickly and easily learn how your computer or smartphone works?

What if I told you that troubleshooting your technology can be easy and painless?

Well, now I’m telling you! My book How Computers Work and What to Do When They Don’t explains, in everyday English, how your computer operates and what you can do when it’s not operating the way you want it to.

It teaches you about the basic components without getting too technical, so you can become more computer-literate.

It walks you through simple steps to fixing common computer problems, so you can get back to using your computer instead of struggling with it.

It explains how to easily solve issues such as sluggish performance and virus infections, so you can keep your computer running smoothly—instead of running out to buy a new one.

And… it includes over 30 full-color pictures, so you can actually see what I’m talking about.

I’ve spent a great majority of my life solving computer problems (and I’m only in my twenties!), and I studied IT in college partly for this reason. I’ve helped kids, seniors, and everyone in between… and now I want to help you.

This book contains all the “secrets” I use to solve computer problems… secrets that everyone can use, including you.

Imagine feeling confident that you can solve your own tech problems without calling your tech-savvy friend, child, or grandchild. Imagine quickly feeling at home with software or apps you’ve never used before.

With How Computers Work and What to Do When They Don’t, you will!

How Computers Work and What to Do When They Don’t is available on Amazon in all regions for Kindle and in paperback. Why not pick up a copy today and start becoming comfortable with computers?

P.S. If you opt for the paperback version, you can also get the Kindle version for only $0.99 more and read wherever you go on your smartphone, tablet, or Kindle e-reader. Also, be sure to sign up for my email list to receive free bonus content to supplement the book.

Want to Expand Your Comfort Zone? Hop on a Motorcycle

Though you don’t necessarily have to do this. Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com

Just over a month ago, I did something I’d been wanting to do for a long time: I signed up for a motorcycle training course.

Now, why motorcycling? I don’t know that I can really give a good answer, other than it’s just something that I wanted to do. A skill I wanted to learn. An item on my bucket list. (Actually, my life list.)

So I showed up early at my alma mater’s parking lot on Saturday morning a couple weeks ago, ready to learn. There were six of us taking the course, ranging from no experience on motorcycles (me and a few others) to many years of experience but no Texas license endorsement.

The first component of the course was in the classroom: We went through a PowerPoint presentation that reiterated much of the content we learned from an online training course we had to take prior to the “real deal.” We dissected and discussed some risky street scenarios and “what-ifs” before breaking for lunch and getting on the bikes for real, hands-on training.

Most of us started out like babies learning to crawl. We hesitantly straddled the 125cc machines, turned the ignition on, checked for neutral, and hit the engine start switch. I know those of us who hadn’t ridden before either felt a surge of adrenaline or a surge of fear when the engines throttled to life beneath us for the first time.

We progressed from crawling to walking: We learned how to slowly let out the clutch and apply throttle to move forward. We learned how to stop. We learned how to turn and shift gears and slow down without braking.

By Sunday, we were making U-turns, weaving in and out of cones, swerving to avoid obstacles, and zipping around at 20 mph on straightaways in the parking lot. It was the most fun I’d had in a long time, better than Six Flags or Disney World.

Then came the skills evaluation, the two-wheel equivalent of a final Drivers Ed test. This test determined whether we would pass the course and be eligible for our M endorsements—or have to take the course again in order to legally ride a motorcycle.

I’ll be honest: Even with practice, I freeze up with practical tests. Maybe it’s because the crazy lady who rode with me on my first driving test got on my nerves so much that I hit a curb and failed.

“It’s okay, Baker. You’ve got this. You’re the man.”

Yet I still went wide in both the sharp right turn and the U-turn. I lost the friction zone of the clutch when coming out of a corner and barely kept the momentum going through to the end. And I was half-certain that I failed.

But, I passed. And that was a confidence-builder. I can now legally ride a motorcycle in Texas, the United States, and (as a matter of fact) Canada, France, and Germany as well.

Does that mean I’m a proficient motorcyclist, though?

Heck no. I need to get my own bike and keep practicing what I’ve learned.

And I need to keep learning. In fact, I have a couple books on my shelf for this purpose: Proficient Motorcycling and More Proficient Motorcycling, both by David Hough, and both incredibly informative on more advanced riding techniques and maneuvers.

It’s my opinion that people should always be moving forward. You certainly don’t want to be moving backward. And if you’re standing still, well, unfortunately you’re likely to be left behind by those who are moving forward.

Moving forward means that you’re constantly stepping out of, and thus expanding, your comfort zone.

In his fascinating book 12 Rules for Life, Jordan Peterson argues that the optimal place to be in life is with one foot placed firmly in order, and one tentatively placed in chaos. In other words, there needs to be a balance—or in Johnny Cash’s words, you have to “walk the line.”

Too much order and you’re going nowhere. Your life is stagnant and slowly becomes boring. You can’t grow as a person.

Too much chaos and your life spirals out of control. You have no tether. You don’t know what to expect around the corner and you live in a constant state of duress from fear or uncertainty.

But, if you can toe the line between order and chaos, Peterson argues, you can live optimally. You can expand your horizons (and your comfort zone) without feeling distress (the negative stress). Instead, you might feel eustress (the positive stress), and that’s what helps you grow.

If, for the first exercise, my motorcycle instructor had told us to hop on the bikes, fire ’em up, and accelerate to a speed of 20 mph in second gear, that would have distressed most of us because we had no experience. We would have been completely submerged in chaos. We might have quit the course then and there out of intimidation, or (worse) tried to follow his directions and hurt ourselves.

Yet if we were still just practicing rocking the bikes backward and forward by the end of the weekend, we would have been completely immersed in order. There’s nothing exciting about that!

So, if you want to expand your comfort zone and become a better, stronger, more well-rounded human being, start by dipping your toe into a little bit of chaos.

Do something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t yet. Take an art class. Learn to dance. Learn how to use a computer (I have a book that helps with that!).

Fall down, mess up, and get back up again. Eventually, your paintings will improve. You won’t step on your partner’s toes. You’ll know more about computers than your friends and maybe even your tech-savvy grandkids.

Or, you can always hop on a motorcycle. Because on a motorcycle, there is no gear for reverse. You can only move forward.


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 1548894625.jpg

What if I told you that you could quickly and easily learn how your computer or smartphone works?

What if I told you that troubleshooting your technology can be easy and painless?

Well, now I’m telling you! My book How Computers Work and What to Do When They Don’t explains, in everyday English, how your computer operates and what you can do when it’s not operating the way you want it to.

It teaches you about the basic components without getting too technical, so you can become more computer-literate.

It walks you through simple steps to fixing common computer problems, so you can get back to using your computer instead of struggling with it.

It explains how to easily solve issues such as sluggish performance and virus infections, so you can keep your computer running smoothly—instead of running out to buy a new one.

And… it includes over 30 full-color pictures, so you can actually see what I’m talking about.

I’ve spent a great majority of my life solving computer problems (and I’m only in my twenties!), and I studied IT in college partly for this reason. I’ve helped kids, seniors, and everyone in between… and now I want to help you.

This book contains all the “secrets” I use to solve computer problems… secrets that everyone can use, including you.

Imagine feeling confident that you can solve your own tech problems without calling your tech-savvy friend, child, or grandchild. Imagine quickly feeling at home with software or apps you’ve never used before.

With How Computers Work and What to Do When They Don’t, you will!

How Computers Work and What to Do When They Don’t is available on Amazon in all regions for Kindle and in paperback. Why not pick up a copy today and start becoming comfortable with computers?

P.S. If you opt for the paperback version, you can also get the Kindle version for only $0.99 more and read wherever you go on your smartphone, tablet, or Kindle e-reader. Also, be sure to sign up for my email list to receive free bonus content to supplement the book.