- Enabled, users can work immediately after printing, but long documents can take a long time to print.
- Disabled, users can't work in Word, but the document prints quickly.
- Unless you have good reason not to, enable background printing for most users. There are exceptions to every rule, but most users will fare better with background printing enabled. Users printing short documents won't notice much difference between enabled and disabled.
- Disable background printing for the lone user who prints lots of long documents and does little actual work in Word itself. You probably don't have anyone using Word who fits this description.
- Train users to fend for themselves. If they know how background printing works and how to use it appropriately, they can work more efficiently on their own.
- When necessary, use VBA to disable background printing temporarily.
- From the Tools menu, choose Options.
- Click the Print tab.
- Uncheck the Background Printing option in the Printing Options section and click OK.
- Click the Office button and then click Word Options.
- Choose Advanced from the left pane.
- Scroll through the options until you find the Print options.
- Uncheck the Print In Background option.
- Click OK.
To enable the feature, set the Background property to True as follows:
Setting the Background property to False has one more benefit. Sometimes, users print a document and then exit Word immediately. Or they execute a macro that prints the document and exits Word. Either way, exiting doesn't always work. Word might display a warning message that exiting Word will cancel the current print job. In this case, add a statement that sets the Background property to False. VBA won't execute the next statement (the statement to exit Word) until the print job is complete.
Of course, you'll have to automate the print process via the interface somehow, instructing the user to print the document using a specific button or command instead of using Word's built-in interface. You might even disable the built-in Print commands when loading this document, to force the issue.
Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.