Finding, Installing, and Using Printers

If you want to get your work out on paper, you can use a number of different types of printers to get the job done. Mac OS X has completely changed the way that you interact with printers when compared to previous versions of the operating system. Under Mac OS X, you install and manage printers using the Print Center application. And Mac OS X includes support for a large number of printers by default.


The Chooser had been a fixture in the Mac OS since it first came to be. However, the Chooser is noticeably absent from Mac OS X. The Print Center has replaced it as the means by which you select and manage printers.

Four basic categories of printers are available, based on the technology that the printer uses to imprint the paper.

  • Inkjet Inkjet printers spray small dots of ink on the paper to form images and text. Inkjet printers produce excellent quality text and good-to-excellent quality graphics. For personal printers or those that are shared by only a few people, inkjets are hard to beat. A good quality inkjet printer costs less than $150, so they are also an excellent value. Support for many Hewlett-Packard, Epson, and Canon inkjet printers is built into Mac OS X.

  • Laser Laser printers produce superb quality for both text and graphics. They are also very fast and are the best choice for network printing. Lower-end laser printers are affordable enough to also be a good choice for a personal printer. Unfortunately, all reasonably priced (for home or home office use) laser printers are black-and-white only.

  • Color laser Color laser printers produce excellent text and graphics and also have color capability. Unfortunately, color laser printers are very expensive, and are not likely to be an option for you unless high-quality color printing and network support are required and you have a business that can justify their expense.

  • Other printers Beyond color laser printers are dye-sublimation and other higher-quality printers that are used in graphic design and other high-end businesses.


A factor to consider when selecting a printer is that inkjets use lots of ink and cartridges are expensive. If you do much black-and-white printing, a laser printer can be a less expensive option when you consider the cost of the consumable supplies (ink versus toner).

There are two ways you can connect a printer to your Mac: directly or through a network. To connect a printer directly to your Mac, you simply attach the printer cable to the appropriate port on your Mac (USB or Ethernet for newer Macs, serial or Ethernet for older Macs). How you connect a printer to your network depends on the kind of network you are using. If you are using an Ethernet network, you can attach a cable from the nearest hub or print server to your printer. You can also choose to share either type of printer over a wired or wireless network.

Mac OS X supports a number of printer communication protocols, including AppleTalk, directory services, IP Printing, and direct connection through USB.


Mac OS X also enables you to share printers over a wired or wireless network.

Choosing a Printer

Covering the mind-boggling variety of printers that are available is beyond the scope of this book. However, it is possible to identify some printer classes that you might want to consider.

  • Inkjet A good-quality inkjet printer will serve almost everyone. Even the inexpensive models can do a great job with text and graphics, including printing photos and other high-resolution images. If your page quantity needs are fairly modest, an inkjet printer is a good choice, especially if you need color output.

  • Laser If you have higher quantity demands or if your printer needs to support several users, a laser printer might be a better choice. Laser printers are faster and less expensive per page than are inkjets. Many laser printers are networkable so that it is easy to support your local network with a single printer.

  • Other options If you have the need for a color laser printer or dye-sub printer, you are probably in a company that has an IT staff that handles obtaining and installing these devices. As long as the printer uses standard network printer drivers, Mac OS X machines will be able to print to them just fine.


All-in-one devices feature an inkjet printer along with a scanner, copier, or fax. An excellent all-in-one unit is the HP PSC 750. This unit does a great job of printing, copying, and scanning. However, Mac OS X?compatible software was not available for this unit before this book went to press. If you need to be able to scan and copy in addition to print and want to save some space and the hassle of dealing with three separate devices, check this unit out at


With version 10.2, Mac OS X includes support for Rendezvous. This technology enables your Mac to actively seek devices to which it is networked. In the case of Rendezvous printers, your Mac can discover the printers it can access and will automatically configure itself to use those printers. No configuration on your part is required. However, printers have to be Rendezvous capable for this to work.

Installing a Local Printer

As long as it offers Mac OS X?compatible drivers, you can install and use just about any USB printer. Using such devices is relatively straightforward.

  1. Connect the printer to the power supply and to your Mac's USB port.

  2. Install the printer driver software, if necessary. If the printer you are using is an inkjet from HP or Epson, the drivers are probably already built into Mac OS X.


    To see which specific printer models are supported natively by Mac OS X, open Mac OS X/Library/Printers, where Mac OS X is the name of your Mac OS X startup volume. Open the folder for the printer brand in which you are interested. The models that are supported will have a .plugin file.

  3. Configure the printer in the Mac OS X Print Center.

Support for some inkjet printers is built into Mac OS X. For example, you can use the following steps to install, configure, and use an Epson 740i inkjet. Other models of inkjet printers will work similarly.

  1. Connect power to the printer.

  2. Connect the printer's USB cable to a USB port on your Mac.

  3. If the printer has Mac OS X?compatible software, install it?support for several printers is built into the operating system.

  4. Open the Print Center (Applications/Utilities).

  5. In the Printer List window, click Add.

  6. Choose the type of printer configuration you want to add from the pop-up menu at the top of the Printer List sheet (see Figure 22.10). Your default choices are AppleTalk, Directory Services, IP Printing, and USB. You will also see various options that relate to any printers your Mac was able to detect. In Figure 22.10, you can see several options for the Epson 740 printer that I was installing.

    Figure 22.10. To configure an Epson USB printer, choose Epson USB on the pop-up menu.


    In this case, I chose EPSON USB. When you've made your selection, the USB bus will be scanned and the available USB printers will be listed in the window.

    You will see a list of possible printers for the configuration you selected.

  7. Select the printer you want to add, and click Add. You will return to the Printer List, and the printer you added will be listed in the window.

  8. To make the printer you added the default, select it and click the Make Default button.

  9. If configuration options are available for the printer, you can select it and click Configure. Use the resulting window to set any options that appear.

  10. Quit the Print Center.


If you hold down the graphics/symbol.gif key and click the Hide/Show Toolbar button in the Printer List window, you will cycle through toolbar configurations, including various icon sizes and a text-only toolbar.

Installing a Network Printer

Using a network printer is a good way to share a printer among multiple users; with the rise of home networks, installing a networked printer in a home or home office is also a practical option.

Installing a network printer is similar to installing a local printer. The specific steps you use will depend on the network you are using and the particular printer model. Support for most laser printers is built into Mac OS X.

In the following example, an HP LaserJet 2200DN is installed on a small Ethernet network. The steps to install other printers on different types of networks are similar.

  1. Connect power to the printer.

  2. Connect the printer to an Ethernet hub.

  3. If the printer has Mac OS X?compatible software, install it?support for most laser printers is built into the operating system.

  4. Open the Print Center (Applications/Utilities).

  5. In the Printer List window, click Add Printer.

  6. Choose the type of printer you want to add from the pop-up menu at the top of the Printer List sheet. Your default choices are AppleTalk, Directory Services, or IP Printing. For a small Ethernet network, AppleTalk will work; choose it on the pop-up menu and then choose the AppleTalk zone you want to access. For larger networks, assign an IP address to the printer and use the IP Printing option; enter the printer's address and queue name, and choose a model on the Printer Model pop-up menu. For printing using directory services, choose Directory services. Then choose Rendezvous or NetInfo Network.

    The network will be scanned and the available printers will be listed in the Add Printer sheet.


    If the exact printer model has a driver in Mac OS X, the Printer Model pop-up menu will be inactive (because the driver for the specific model was found). If the specific model of printer you have selected does not have a corresponding driver installed, the Printer Model pop-up menu will become active. Choose the brand of printer you are installing and then choose the specific driver you want installed on this menu. If you leave the option "Auto Select" selected, Mac OS X will choose the driver it thinks is the best match.

  7. Select the printer (and driver, if necessary) that you want to add, and click Add. You will return to the Printer List, and the printer you added will be listed in the window (see Figure 22.11). In the Printer List window, the default printer is indicated by its name appearing in bold.

    Figure 22.11. Two printers are now available in the Print Center; the PET printer is a laser printer installed on the network.


  8. Quit the Print Center.


To set the default printer, select it in the Printer List window and click the Make Default button.

Sharing a Printer


Under Mac OS X, version 10.2, you can share printers connected to your Mac over wired and wireless networks, as well as those connected directly to your Mac through USB. Follow these steps to share your printers:

  1. Open the Sharing pane of the System Preferences utility.

  2. Check the "Printer Sharing" check box or select Printer Sharing and click the Start button. The status message will indicate that printer sharing is on (see Figure 22.12).

    Figure 22.12. This Mac is sharing its printers.


  3. Quit the System Preferences utility.

Any printers that are connected to your Mac will be available for others. For example, if you provide an AirPort network, users of that network will be able to print to a USB printer connected directly to the Mac.

Printing Under Mac OS X

When you print a document, you will see the print dialog box for the default printer (see Figure 22.13). You can choose any other printers that are installed by using the Printer pop-up menu. This dialog box contains a variety of pop-up menus and other tools you can use to configure the print job.

Figure 22.13. Mac OS X printer dialog boxes offer many more features than were possible with previous versions of the OS.


The specific options you see in the print dialog box depend on the printer you are using. You choose the settings you want to configure from the middle pop-up menu (which shows Copies & Pages in Figure 22.13) and then configure those settings with the controls that appear in the lower part of the dialog box. Depending on the printer you select, you can have the following options:

  • Printer You can use this pop-up menu to select a printer to print to. You can also open the Print Center by choosing Edit Printer List.

  • Presets You can switch between the standard settings for the selected printer or you can save a custom configuration and switch to that one.

  • Copies & Pages These controls enable you to set the number of pages you want to print and choose the part of a document you want to print.

  • Duplex If a printer is capable of duplexing, you use these controls to configure it, such as by printing on both sides of the paper.

  • Layout These commands enable you to control how many pages print per sheet of paper, the direction in which your document layout will print, and whether a border is printed.

  • Output Options This pane enables you to print the document as a PDF or PostScript file.

  • Paper Feed These controls enable you to select a paper tray for the print job or you can choose to do a manual feed.

  • Error Handling With these controls, you tell the Print Center how to handle errors that occur during the printing process.

  • Print Settings Controls in this pane enable you to choose a paper type and to select from the print modes offered by a printer (such as color, black and white, draft, and so on).

  • Image Quality Use these controls to determine the quality with which images are printed?to save toner, for example.

  • Advanced Settings This pane can contain various commands, such as halftoning, flipping horizontal, and other specialized settings.

  • Color Management On color printers, you can use this pane to control the color. Your options are to use ColorSync or to set various aspects of the colors manually.

  • Summary The Summary area displays a description of the print job you have currently configured. This can be useful if you have configured a complex print job and want to check it before you run it.


In the Copies & Pages dialog box for most printers, you have the option to collate documents. If you have ever had to hand-collate a large document, you will really appreciate this feature.

You can preview a print job by clicking the Preview button. When you are ready to print, click Print or press Return.

You can check the status of a print job by double-clicking the printer on the Printer List; when a job is sent to a printer, the Print Center icon will open on the Dock and will begin to bounce. You can open a printer to access its status window (see Figure 22.14). You can use the commands on the Queue menu to control print jobs. You can also sort the jobs in the queue by Status, Name, or Priority.

Figure 22.14. You can monitor the status of print jobs by double-clicking a printer in the Printer List to open the monitor window for that printer.


Using a Printer from the Classic Environment

Printing from the Classic environment can be a bit problematic because Classic has trouble interfacing properly with the USB ports. Some printers will work fine from within Classic, but others will not.

To print from within Classic, you need to first install the printer's software in the Classic environment. Then you use the Classic Chooser to select the printer to which you want to print. You will probably have more luck printing to network printers than you will printing to USB or other local printers.

The only way to figure out whether the printer you want to use will print under Classic is to give it a try. I had mixed results. An Epson 740i printer could not be selected because Classic Chooser did not find the USB ports?printing to my HP PSC 750 was also unsuccessful because the USB port could not be found. However, I was able to print to a networked laser printer just fine.


If you are unable to print to a printer in Classic, see "I Can't Print Under Classic" in the Troubleshooting section at the end of this chapter.

    Part I: Mac OS X: Exploring the Core
    Part III: Mac OS X: Living the Digital Lifestyle