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How to fix Snow Leopard and HP printer problems

Tips and cheats to fix printing woes

Article comments

If you have an older Ethernet-networked printer, you may find that, after upgrading to Apple's Snow Leopard Mac OS X 10.), the printer no longer responds to your print requests. That's what happened with my trusty old HP LaserJet 4000N (circa 1998). If this happens to you, don't despair. It's almost certain your printer and your Mac can be friends again. Here's what you need to know:

First off, Snow Leopard no longer supports AppleTalk. If your printer was connected to your Mac via AppleTalk (which was the case for me), the printer won't respond after upgrading to Snow Leopard. To get it working again, go to the Print & Fax System Preferences pane and click the plus (+) icon. This brings up the Add Printer window. Confirming the lack of AppleTalk support, the toolbar no longer includes an AppleTalk icon/button.

If the name of your printer appears in the Default list, select the name and click to add it. All will likely be well. However, chances are good that a previously AppleTalk-connected printer is too old to include Bonjour support and thus won't show up in the Default list. In this case, you'll need to do a bit more work to add the printer back.

While you can no longer use AppleTalk, most of these old networkable printers also support connecting via an IP protocol. If not, you may be completely out-of-luck; the possibility looms that you will need to buy a new printer. Hopefully, it won't come to that.

To attempt to add the printer via IP, click the IP icon in Add Printer's toolbar. What to do next varies a bit depending upon your printer model. In the case of my HP LaserJet, I followed the advice on this HP Web page, detailing HP's Snow Leopard support. In particular:

1. Click the IP button and select HP Jetdirect - Socket from the Protocol pull-down menu.

2. Enter the printer's IP address in the Address text box. Don't know what the address is? Not to worry. Print out a Configuration Page. For my 4000N, I used the Menu and Item buttons on the printer to get Print Configuration to appear in the LCD screen; then I hit Select. On the resulting printout, I located the line that said IP ADDRESS.

3. If things go well, shortly after entering the IP address, the Print Using line at the bottom of the window will list the name of your printer (as seen on the right). If so, click the Add button and you are done. Your printer should be ready to work with Snow Leopard.

If you have another brand of printer, you'll likely need to choose Internet Printing Protocol - IPP instead of HP Jetdirect. And there will be a different means to determine the IP address. But the basic procedure remains the same.

One bit of good news: You shouldn't have to install any new printer driver software. The latest versions are already installed via the Snow Leopard upgrade.

Unfortunately, this was not the end of the story for me. After following the above steps, the name of my printer did not appear in the Print Using line. Instead, it said Generic PostScript Printer.

I went with this choice, hoping that it would work, but had no success. The printer was added but I still could not print to it. I tried again with other possible Print Using choices, as obtained via the Select Printer Software option in the pulldown menu. Nothing worked.

Contacting HP for help was useless. The company told me that it no longer offered support for the 4000N. An Apple article claimed that the printer should work in Snow Leopard. Another Apple article provided basic printing advice for Snow Leopard. But neither article pointed the way to a solution.

Undeterred, I searched the Web and eventually found an HP Web page that described the procedure for doing a Cold Reset of my printer: Turn the printer on while holding down the Go button. (If you try this, don't remove the printer's JetDirect card, despite what the Web page says.) The reset forced the printer to update its IP address, to one that now matched my current local network. I entered this new address in the Add Printer window. Success! I am once again able to print to my still trusty LaserJet.

Inkjet printer bonus in Snow Leopard

I also have a Canon inkjet printer, connected to my Mac via the USB port on my AirPort Extreme. Prior to Snow Leopard, I could not directly access the printer's options to check its ink levels - as Leopard did not permit accessing this feature from an AirPort-connected printer. To do so, I had to temporarily connect the printer to a USB port on my Mac (or use the information available from the LCD screen of the printer).

In one of Snow Leopard's less-publicised improvements, this situation has changed - for the better. If your printer's ink levels are low, a low ink warning now appears in the Print dialog - even with an AirPort-connected printer. If you click the warning icon, a display appears that shows the current levels of each individual cartridge. Cool.


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Comments said: Ted you REALLY saved my sanity when I found your article after hours of struggling in trying to get my printers to work I was finally forced to go to Snow Leopard because of Adobes CS6 and then couldnt connect to my HP Laserjet 4000NT or Color Laserjet 4500N Cold resetting the printers and printing the configuration info to find out the IP addresses did the job Thanks so VERY much Joan

Notdosman said: Some older HP printers such as the LaserJet 6MP cannot be used as an IP printer and communicated with Macs only by AppleTalk but if you connect a USB to Parallel printer adapter you can use them with Mac OS 106 amp 107

Throwapunch said: THANK YOU TED THE JEDII have the 4000N as well and couldnt stand the thought of trashing it Works as good today as it did when I bought it OVER 12 YEARS AGO It cost a small fortune when I was starting my freelance business but was worth it given the longevity Shame on HP and Apple for not supporting better and being a contributor to a throw away society

Peter Stoner said: I have just upgraded to Lion and now my printer doesnt work AGAINI have tried the instructions above but to no avail Does anyone know of any guides to get an old HP printer to work with LionThanks

Dcrkoster said: The reset forced the printer to update its IP address to one that now matched my current local network I entered this new address in the Add Printer window Success I am once again able to print to my still trusty LaserJetDid everything but I dont understand where to find the new IP address I did a cold reset And printed a new Protocol information page but its still the same IP address What am I doing wrong

Gary Dinowitz said: I love you I did not want to buy a new printer I love my HP 400TN and did not want to buy a new one even thought they are really cheap now My printer is a workhorse and has been awesome I tried to figure this out all over the net you solved my issue in 5 minutes

Deborah Doyle said: Fabulous Found my trusty aged HP 4000 IP address just as you directed and voila

Marie-Josee said: Finally I needed this cold resetMy HP Laserjet 5M is finally back You made my week

Fredtal said: I did all of these things but still couldnt get it to work until I turned my airport off But then it worked like a charm

Robert said: I finally got my HP Laserjet 4000n to work in Snow Leopard The cold reset did the trick Thank You

Niccy said: I chose the P2055dn because of auto-duplexing and the standard 128MB of RAM I was initially disappointed by the poor print quality and noise of the printer with the factory default settings After digging into the clunky digital-only manual and much trial and error I created new HP Printing Shortcuts for 1-sided and 2-sided documents with ProRes

aconeflower said: Thank you so much for your help I just upgraded to snow leopard and was surprised and upset when I could not print from my old hp-5150 deskjet I googled the issue and found you right away Your first solution thankfully worked While the specific printer was not listed it did have hp-5100 series I clicked that and was able to print You saved me a lot of hassle I appreciate you sharing this

Gunder Buster said: Wow Thank you very much for the info

kewalosurfer said: Thanks It worked like a charm

enzo said: Was a bit tricky at the beginning to get the printout for the IP address but when I got it the setup worked great Thank You Thank You

mcbrae said: I love you man The cold reset is the one trick I had not found yet and I was getting pretty frustrated after oh 3 hours of trying to re-add my LaserJet 4000T after the Snow Leopard upgrade It worked Thank you for doing the research and putting it here where the rest of us could find it

Simpson Bergman said: Thank you I would not have known how to fix this problem I just got a new macbook and could not get it to work with my HP 4000 TN This worked great

Komal said: Thanks so much The cold reset worked

hman said: Thanx

Ben Cracknell said: Excellent advice thank you - a bit sad that macs need to do this - what happened to plug and play

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