This information is for Version 2.0 of Cardbox for Windows.
We recommend that you upgrade to Cardbox 3.

Printer driver problems  

(Technical support)

When you print a record or a report to a printer, it is not Cardbox that is doing the printing.  All that Cardbox does is send commands to Windows, which then passes them on to a printer driver, which knows all about your particular printer and translates the standard Windows drawing commands into a format that the printer can understand.

Printer drivers are complex pieces of software, and they are the source of many problems, because they are usually written in a hurry at the last moment and are inadequately tested.  Here are a few of the printer driver problems that have come up in the past:

  • The last character on a line is missing.
  • Grid lines are missing when you print a format.
  • The printout is covered in solid black boxes.
  • Nonsensical characters appear.
  • The program crashes when printing, and Windows reports the error as occurring in a file like HPPCL5M.DRV.

It is quite possible for bugs and crashes to be very specific. They may result from your using a particular layout, so that some formats cause the problem while others do not; or some fonts may cause the problem while others do not.  This is what makes printer driver bugs so hard to trace.

There are three solutions:

You can read about some of these problems in the online Help for Cardbox: enter Help, Common Problems and look at the last few entries in the "Bugs" section.




Get an updated printer driver

The first, and best, solution to a printer driver bug is to get a newer and better printer driver.  If one exists, you can get it from the supplier of the printer driver - normally either Microsoft or the printer manufacturer.

You can see information about downloading new drivers from Microsoft by looking up "Drivers, downloading" in the Windows help.


Check your current version

From the Windows Start menu, select "Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Information".  Open the section marked "Components", and select "Printers".  You will see a series of lines such as

HP LaserJet 4M Plus = HPPCL5MS,, 11/05/98 20:01, 526032 bytes, LPT1:

Note this information because it will help your supplier to know if you have the latest version of the driver.


Use a different driver

If you can't get an updated driver, or it will take a long time to get one, then you can often relieve your problem by installing a different printer driver.  This will not change the way that your existing programs work.  The steps are:

  • Think of a compatible printer
  • Install the driver for that printer
  • Print to that printer

Think of a compatible printer

Printer manufacturers do not change their printers radically from one release to the next.  If you print to a Hewlett-Packard Laserjet 5 as if it were a Laserjet 4, everything should print correctly.  So what you need to do is find an older printer from the same manufacturer that will be compatible with the one you actually have.  The manufacturer's technical support line will be able to help with this.

Install the driver for that printer

(The step-by-step instructions here are for Windows 98: the exact steps may be slightly different for other versions of Windows)

  1. Open "My Computer".
  2. Within "My Computer", double-click on "Printers".
  3. Before you go any further, you need to know what port your printer is connected to.  The commonest port is LPT1, but it is best to check.  If you have used System Information, the port name is the last item on the line.  If you haven't already used System Information:
    • In "Printers", right-click on the icon for your printer.
    • A menu will pop up.  Select "Properties", and then pick the "Details" tab.
    • You will see a caption saying "Print to the following port:".  Note what port it says (usually LPT1).
    • Press Cancel to close the window.
  4. Within "Printers", double-click on "Add Printer" and follow the instructions. 
    • When it asks you what port the printer is to be connected to, answer with the port that your existing printer is connected to. 
    • When it asks you whether to make this your default printer, say No.

When you have successfully installed the new printer software, you will see a new icon in the "Printers" folder.  You can now close that folder.

Print to that printer

You have now created a new printer, but because you have not made it the default printer, all your applications will continue to print to the old one.  So to try printing to the new printer from Cardbox:

  1. Within Cardbox, get ready to print in the usual way, but instead of pressing OK in the Print dialog box, press Setup. 
  2. You will see an entry named "Printer". 
  3. Open the list next to that entry, and select the name of the newly installed printer software (for example, "Laserjet 4"). 
  4. Press OK and print in the usual way.


Change your format

This is very much a last resort, since of course the whole purpose of the Cardbox-Windows-driver combination is to be able to print anything at all, no matter what the format is like.  But an ideal is one thing and practice is another, and if you have a report that you simply must print, there is no point in wasting time on what might have happened if the printer driver had worked.

In general, printer drivers behave better on simpler tasks.  If you have designed a format on the screen, it may well have background shading that you don't really need, and removing it may make life simpler for the printer driver.  There is no guarantee (after all, a failing printer driver is by its nature unpredictable) but it can be worth trying.

  1. In Cardbox, select "Printer Setup".
  2. Open the "Appearance" tab.
  3. Go through each of the possible text types, and set the background to white for all of them.
  4. Press OK to save the result.
  5. The on-screen appearance will not be affected, but your file should now print on a white background.


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