Using an Infrared Link

How to establish an infrared link between devices with Windows 2000, and use it to exchange files, print, or transfer images from a digital camera.

 By Brien M. Posey
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So far in this series, I've explained how infrared communications work, and how to configure some of the various Windows 2000 infrared-related options. Now, it's time to actually establish an infrared link and use it to accomplish tasks such as exchanging files and printing.

Establishing an Infrared Link

An infrared link between two devices can be established automatically or manually. In Windows 2000 environments, the infrared port is always on, and Windows searches every few seconds for infrared devices that might be within range. If an infrared device is detected, Windows 2000 will automatically try to establish a session with the device. However, if the foreign device isn't running Windows 2000, it may be necessary to establish a connection manually, using techniques I'll discuss later.

When infrared communications are initiated between two devices, the device that initiated the communications takes on the role as the primary device. This means the device regulates the infrared session and is responsible for sending data to the secondary or receiving device. In a Windows 2000 environment, either computer may dynamically assume the primary role, thus allowing it to send data to the other computer. However, some devices, such as printers, may only assume the secondary role.

When an infrared link is established, the icon shown in Figure 1 will appear in the taskbar's status area. This icon indicates that an infrared session has been established. The icon shown in Figure 2 will also appear on the Windows 2000 desktop; it represents the infrared device to which you're connected.

Figure 1
Figure 1: When this icon appears in the taskbar, it means that an infrared session has been established.

Figure 2
Figure 2: This desktop icon represents the infrared device to which you're connected.

One Device at a Time

Windows 2000 can communicate with only one other infrared device at a time. However, this doesn't mean that Windows 2000 is limited to communicating with only that device. After an infrared session ends with one device, Windows 2000 is free to establish an infrared session with a different device. This single-device limitation doesn't constrain Windows 2000 to performing a single task per session, though. Just as a network card can perform multiple communications-related tasks simultaneously, so can an infrared port. For example, you can use an infrared port to simultaneously send and receive e-mail messages and synchronize data files with your desktop computer.

Now that you know a little about the way that Windows 2000 establishes an infrared link, let's take a look at how to perform some common tasks through an infrared link. I mentioned earlier that the infrared link is usually established automatically, but can connected manually if necessary. Any of the procedures I'm about to explain should manually link the infrared devices if a link hasn't already been established. If you can't establish a link either automatically or manually, check the configuration of both devices and make sure that the two devices' infrared ports are in range of each other and have a clear line of sight.

File Transfers

It's simple to transfer files between infrared devices. To do so, simply use the computer that has assumed the primary role to drag the files that should be transferred to the desktop icon shown in Figure 2. When you do, the receiving computer will display a message asking the user if it's OK to accept the inbound files. If the user accepts the files, they will be placed in the location that the user specified as the default location for received files. As I mentioned in Part 2 ( Installing and Configuring Infrared Support ), this is, by default, the C:\Doccuments And Settings\user\Desktop directory. If you don't want received files to appear on your desktop, you can change the default location for received files by using the method that I discussed in Part 2.

This article was originally published on Nov 22, 2000
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