Tech Q&A

Connecting a new PC to an older printer


Minneapolis Star Tribune

Q. My old HP LaserJet IIIP printer from 1992 works fine, but when I bought a new Dell computer I couldn’t connect the two. The printer uses a 25-pin parallel connector to connect to a PC, but the PC doesn’t have a parallel port plug. I also couldn’t find the driver software the printer would need for the new PC. Is there any way to connect the printer to the new PC, or do I have to buy a new printer?

Jim Weigle Minneapolis

Your printer is from an era before printers were connected to PCs by USB cables or Wi-Fi. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use it.

The software driver problem is already solved. Your new PC probably came with Windows 7, which contains the appropriate driver software. Microsoft has instructions on activating it at

And you can connect the printer to the new PC either via a $7-$23 adapter that will convert your printer’s parallel port cable into a USB connector, or by adding a parallel port to your computer with a $7 to $27 circuit board that fits into one of the PC’s expansion slots.Q. My 2009 PC came with a version of Windows Live Photo Gallery that had a “fix” icon on the tool bar. Opening the “fix” gave me access to photo editing capabilities, and under the “Exposure” tab there was a slider control for “Shadows,” a useful function that could lighten only the dark parts of a photo. I recently updated to a new version of Photo Gallery, but I can no longer find the Shadows function. How can I get the old version of the software back?

Mel Bina Tucson, Ariz.

I can see why you’d be willing to revert to the old software; the Shadows option’s ability to affect only the darkest portion of a picture is impressive. But switching isn’t necessary, because the Shadows option has simply shifted locations in the latest version of Windows Live Photo Gallery. To get there, open the program, double-click a photo to select it and click “adjust exposure” on the right to find the “Shadows” command. Drag the slider control to lighten or darken the dimmest parts of the photo.Q. Videos don’t play correctly on my 3-year-old PC. They stop every minute or so for several seconds. Is there a fix for this?

Bryna Ben-Asher Tucson, Ariz.

The pauses occur because your PC is playing the video faster than the PC is receiving it from the Internet. You could get a faster Internet connection, or you could let the video finish streaming to your PC before you watch it. Streaming is complete when a “progress bar” beneath the video fills in.

Contact Steve Alexander at Tech Q&A, 425 Portland Ave. S., Minneapolis, Minn. 55488-0002; e-mail

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