Graphic tablets, HP scanners and Vista

I am now the proud owner of a graphics tablet, something I’ve always been meaning to buy and it is all I could hope for, except…

I have a windows laptop with Vista (32 bit home premium, what it came with…) – thus far no real problem, in fact Vista has all sorts of optional extras that enable themselves when you install a tablet: Journal, pen flicks, handwriting recognition. Great! you think… until you want to use the HP integrated scanner / printer you bought a year ago.

Vista’s extra tablet gimics use TWAIN exclusively, and I do mean it when I say Vista doesn’t share well – at least not with HP. Suddenly there was no way of communicating with the scanning software, no HP software update would solve it and due to Vista’s highly integrated nature creating a new user didn’t solve the problem. Unclicking the handwriting recognition box in the Tablet PC options also did not help; there seemed to be no easy way to disable this vista tablet functionality. Googling the problem confirmed that this is due to a largely unadvertised and seemingly unsolved clash between HP and Vista’s use of TWAIN.

More googling found a tutorial from the lovely people at, teaching you how to turn on and off features in Vista. It is really simple and I can’t believe I missed this on searching around in control settings. You may have to be really patient, it took a couple of minutes for the feature list to come up and about 10 mins for the feature to uninstall itself before restarting.

I was concerned that switching off Tablet PC optional components would switch off the functionality of the graphics tablet. Not so. I still have all the functionality that the wacom installer gives me, just none of the ‘handwritten notes’ style vista features. More importantly for me, I can now access my scanner as before.

Points to note:

  • The HP printer is a PSC1610, as far as I can find out this problem exists for all Printer/Copier/Scanners by HP but may not be experienced with separate scanners or combined printer-scanners from other manufacturers.
  • This problem has been reported with both Wacom and non-wacom tablets.
  • To date I cannot find a solution which does not involve choosing between the handwriting recognition features of Vista such as Journal and Writepad and use of the scanner. If you find one, please let me know!