Friday, January 28, 2011

Printer Drivers for Old Printers

I was pretty excited when I got my new Mac last year.  What I wasn't really excited about was the fact that my new Mac couldn't connect to a couple of my existing printers.  I was a little annoyed because I was being forced to buy a new printer (just after I bought this expensive new Mac) because I had the good fortune of having printers that actually lasted longer than a year.   I have an HP LaserJet 6L which must be like 10 years old and a Canon MultiPass MP730 which is probably like 8 years old.   As you may guess this doesn't really fly with the wife who is pretty annoyed that you now have to buy 2 new things instead of the one you promised. She pretty much thinks either this was your ulterior motive from the beginning or that you're an idiot for not doing enough research.  Wow, what can I say?  Anyway, I had found myself in this dilemma.  

Thank goodness for Bing (well actually Google but since I work at Microsoft I must try to plug the company's wares every chance I get).  I did a search and came across some newsgroups discussions talking about the Gutenprint Open Source printer drivers for old printers that wouldn't die.

Here's how to install these new drivers.

  1. Just click on one of the download links.  On a Mac it will download the DMG file and open up automatically like a hard drive.  
  2. Double Click the Installer and Install the Gutenprint printer drivers.
  3. In OS 10.5 (Snow Leopard) go to the System Preferences and open the Print and Fax preferences.
  4. Click on the + sign to add a new printer.
  5. If you're lucky the printer will just show up by Default.  Just click on it in the list.
  6. The key thing now is to select the print driver by selecting the "Print Using" pop up and then picking "Select Printer Software" which pops up a dialog with a list of hundreds of printers.  The auto select feature isn't able to associate your printer with the appropriate Gutenprint drivers so you'll have to select it manually.  Find your printer in the list.  The Guntenprint installer appends the list with all of their drivers.  In my case the HP LaserJet is called "HP LaserJet 6L - CUPS+Gutenprint v5.2.6." 

I totally get the OpenSource movement now that I use these Getenprint drivers, Handbrake and VLC.  It's really great that these developers share their work for free for the benefit of all.   I applaud you.

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