Don’t be helpless: You can find information too, if you try (episode 2)


Commenter Joshua Blake wonders why Word's status bar says "Word is preparing to background print the document", wondering whether there used to be other types of printing like foreground.

Well, first of all, this is a question about Office, something I explicitly deny any special knowledge of:

Topics I am not inclined to cover: [...]

  • Microsoft software that isn't Windows. (Exchange, Office, ...)

But I'm going to take this opportunity to teach you how to use information already available to you to answer this question yourself.

First, let's see what the Internet says about Word and background printing. A search for ‹Word background printing› turns up pages that tell you how to turn background printing on and off. Well, that tells you right off the bat that there are other types of printing, and if you read the text of the page, it even tells you what happens if you turn off background printing: You can't do anything with the program while it is printing.

There you go, an explanation of the other type of printing.

Comments (14)
  1. BOFH says:

    I prefer to give oneliner-answers to that type of questions:

    http://letmegooglethatforyou.com/?q=Word+background+printing

  2. Puckdropper says:

    I remember doing a bit of foreground printing in DOS apps.  You couldn’t do anything with the computer until printing was done.  Windows came along with its multi-tasking and print spooler and made the world a lot more hectic place. ;-)

    Still had to wait until the document finished spooling to use the application, though.

  3. John says:

    I remember doing a bit of foreground printing in DOS apps.  You couldn’t do anything with the computer until printing was done.  Windows came along with its multi-tasking and print spooler and made the world a lot more hectic place. ;-)

    Still had to wait until the document finished spooling to use the application, though.

  4. John says:

    Strange.  It seems there is some kind of filter on MSDN blogs that prevents me from posting short comments; nothing nefarious, but it would be helpful if it spat out some indication of WHY the comment was rejected rather than just sending me back to the front page with no explanation.  From now on, I guess I will have to stick a paragraph of Shakespeare in each comment to make sure it goes through.

  5. Lev says:

    Seems like a rather useless feature that should be removed to stop Word from confusing the user with useless options. And then the message should be removed, too.

  6. Duke of New York says:

    Who says it hasn’t been removed? That item isn’t in the print options for Word 2007.

    It probably had to be kept around for the sake of some military customer.

  7. William Furr says:

    Wow, what’s with Lev and Duke?  This post isn’t about background printing at all, guys.

    Anyway, I second the vote for Let Me Google That For You.  Here’s the TinyURL version, slightly more innocuous-looking:  http://tinyurl.com/5wz4xc

  8. Dean Harding says:

    "That item isn’t in the print options for Word 2007."

    It’s still there. Under Word Options, on the "Advanced" tab, in the "Print" section. There’s a "Print in background" checkbox.

    Also, the help text says "Printing in the background lets you continue to work while your document is printed. Turning this option on may slow down printing."

    So aparently if you uncheck "background printing" the printing will happen faster, but you can’t do anything else while it’s going on.

  9. - says:

    That option is misleading, just live "allow quick/fast save" or whatever it was called. It doesn’t do what you think it does.

  10. Matt says:

    Love how you took the opportunity (as usual) to take a dig at a guy who gave you a compliment.

    In all seriousless, can you non-sarcastically answer why you do this?

  11. Carl says:

    "The ability to determine reasonable search patterns and identify meaninful search terms is a skiil"…

    I’m sorry, but it’s not as if they had to come up with some sort of magic search term spell to get an answer, so I don’t agree with this at all.

    Word background printing provides an answer, as does ‘what is word background printing’, even ‘background printing’ with no reference to Word or MS comes up with an answer.

  12. Xepol says:

    Actually, I have found a number of search impaired individuals.

    Even with Google *AND* Live, the couldn’t map the path out of a wet paper bag.

    The ability to determine reasonable search patterns and identify meaninful search terms is a skiil, and I hate to say it Rayond, but in this case, you might have a bit of an elitist blind spot.

    It isn’t always that people are lazy.

  13. Worf says:

    Or, perhaps just input the text verbatim from the dialog into a search engine works wonders too – most people copy the text in their solutions for that reason.

    And variations of the phrasing in case someone screwed up helps, too, to which use of language helps.

  14. Carl says:

    Yeah, and let’s not forget that we’re not talking about a comment on http://www.cookingisfun.com asking how to find a recipe for Mississippi Mud Pie. This is Raymond’s blog, and as such my Grandma rarely stops by…

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