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Extras - Product Review: Hewlett-Packard's Web PrintSmart

By John D. Moore, Published on September 1, 1999

John D. Moore is the Assistant Librarian and Web Master for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

For collecting and printing Web pages, I recommend using Hewlett-Packard's (HP) Web PrintSmart software, which you can obtain for free from their Web site. Why use it? Because it changes the format of the Web page from a monitor screen, which your browser prefers, to an 81/2 x 11 inch piece of paper, which your printer and readers, prefer. One may select different font sizes to save paper, and ask it to ignore images, if so desired. It has searching and scheduling features, and will expand links and allow the user to select which linked pages to print. I am currently using version 1.0, but they have a version 2.0 Plus! and 2.0 Free. The Free is free and the Plus! has more features and costs $29.95. Both can be obtained from their Web site, at: http://www.hp.com/pond/wps/index.html

PrintSmart can search for pages itself, or it can be used along with your favorite browser as a printing tool. If using a browser, open the PrintSmart program and ask it to fetch the page(s) you are looking at with the browser. The pages found can be gathered into a "collection" which can be printed immediately, or saved and updated according to a schedule you determine.

Once a page has been found, a user can ask the software to retrieve all of the pages linked to the original page. One can then select which of these linked pages you wish to print.

For page formatting one may select from a variety of templates which control the font and paragraph sizes and locations. The legal template turns links on the page into footnotes, and automatically numbers them. Other templates have this feature, which can be turned on and off. Templates can be selected according to how much text one wishes to fit on a page, or typeface font style, or personal preference.

There are some additional features, which allow one to add an automatically generated table of contents and index of links, which can give a collection a more finished appearance.

All kinds of Windows-based printers are supported by PrintSmart, as are all HP printers. Users should check the Web site for other compatibility issues with their browser and operating system.

Version 2.0 Plus! will also allow one to gather and print POP3 email, and schedule email retrieval and printing. It allows for more customizable page and template styles. Both 2.0 Free and 2.0 Plus! support frames, which occasionally were a problem for 1.0.