A local printer driver is a special piece of software that enables your computer to communicate to your Dell toner printer or other brand printer that is directly attached to it via a Universal Serial Bus (USB) connection. While it is frequently possible to print without installing a specific driver, installing the correct local driver will give better performance as well as enable the use of all of the specific printer's features.
Many people simply connect the printer to their computer via USB and allow the operating system to install a printer driver. Doing this frequently works, but what the operating system does is install the first driver that it finds that will work with the printer. This may not be the best driver for the specific printer. In addition, installing a printer this way eliminates the opportunity to install any software that may have been included with the driver to squeeze more functionality out of the printer, like printer toner saving modes.
Before installing a local printer driver, computer users should do two things. The first is to disconnect the printer from the computer if it is already connected. The second is to obtain a driver. Usually, the printer will come with a CD that contains the correct driver and software. Although it might not hold the most current version of the driver, it will contain any supporting software that the manufacturer recommends installing to get the best performance out of the printer. An updated driver can always be downloaded from the Internet later, once the printer is working.
Log in to the computer from an account with administrator privileges on computers running Windows Vista or Windows 7. Insert the driver CD into the computer's optical drive. Let the software automatically start and follow the prompts, clicking the "OK," "Yes," "Next," "Continue" or other buttons as necessary to move through the installation process. The computer may need to restart during this process. If this happens, leave the driver disk in the drive unless the software requests its removal. Once the installation process is ready, it will ask that the printer be connected to the computer and powered on. Do this, and let the installation process finish. Once it is done, remove the driver disk from the computer's optical drive.
Installing the printer driver by following this procedure will ensure that the computer can use all of the printer's features. While this is helpful with dedicated printers, enabling the computer to both monitor ink or toner levels and use any quality-enhancing features that the printer has, it is crucial with all-in-one printers. Typically, the only way to access the scanning and faxing features of an all-in-one unit is to install the manufacturer's drivers and software.