Saturday, December 10, 2005

ok, now I remember

... why I don't use mailmerge to print out our envelopes every year at Christmas.

I've spent the past 3 hours entering our mailing list in Word, tracking down addresses, setting up the envelope template -- and trying to print out our 48 envelopes. I'd say the database part took about an hour, and that's only because I was on the phone with my mom for a while.

The printer is just not behaving. We have an ancient HP Laserjet 4L. The thing is a tank. We've had it just shy of 11 years now, and it's going strong. It's really a great little printer, except it has always been terrible at printing anything that needs to be fed, one sheet at a time. I don't know what's up with it, but after printing one, two, or sometimes 4 envelopes, it just spazzes and says there's a paper jam, when of course there isn't.

The worst thing is trying to convince the damn printer that it's OK to keep going. I have to open and close it several times to convince it that there really is no paper jam, all the while praying that it will draw in the next envelope from the manual feed slot. (For the record, this is not a new problem, this printer has always been horrible at this particular task -- I think I was just repressing the memories of trying to do our wedding and baby announcement envelopes on this thing.)

Fortunately we have a lot of extra envelopes, too, because sometimes when it's being picky it lays down the toner on the envelope but doesn't set it, and that envelope's just a goner...

The other printer in the house is an all-in-one HP OfficeJet, and I did a few on that but they look all smeared even after I cleaned the print heads.

At this point, I'm thinking it would've just been easier to write them all out longhand. I would be done by now. (grrrr)

Update (aka, reminders for next time I need to do something like this): Finally finished.

Here's the trick: Print only one envelope at a time. This is easy using Word's current mail merge facility that lets you preview each envelope, and allows you to print the current record. At the printer: feed the envelope with the back of the printer closed, then press OK on the Print dialog to start printing. Once the printer has drawn the envelope in, it's OK to open the back. Wait until the envelope comes out and then close the back -- this is very important because if you leave the back open (so the envelopes can go straight through and not get all curly), the printer goes into "paper failure" mode for some reason or other. Wait until the printer light shows "Ready" again, then cue up another envelope. In Word, go back to the "preview envelopes" screen and advance to the next record. Then use "complete merge", "print", "current record", "OK". Repeat until done -- tedious, but saves my arthritic hands from being crippled for a week.

Since the printer is on the opposite side of the room from the computer with Word on it, I've been hopping back and forth all afternoon. But as long as I remember to close the back of the printer, it works fine. This is obviously more of a pain than just being able to continuously feed the envelopes, but it is still a lot less work than writing them out longhand.

1 comment:

Papercollector said...

Jo, you crack me up. love j