When Mac OS can’t connect to the printer.
Snow Leopard is the first version of Mac OS that doesn’t support AppleTalk. While that shouldn’t be an issue for most folks, if you’re like me and have an ancient printer that uses Ethernet and AppleTalk to connect to your computer, you might have a problem.
With me, the printer is an HP LaserJet 2100TN manufactured in 1999. Yes, I’m using 10-year-old laser printer. It works fine — or at least it did on all versions of Mac OS through Leopard. But when I upgraded to Snow Leopard the other day, my Mac suddenly couldn’t see the printer.
I’ve been wanting a duplex laser printer for some time now, and I simply haven’t been able to justify the cost. With this sudden incompatibility issue, it looked like I had a good excuse to buy a new printer. But what to do with the old one? My husband is very happy with my previous printer, an HP LaserJet 4MP. And wouldn’t it be better if I could just get it to work?
So I went online. I soon discovered that the good folks at HP have written a support article all about using HP printers with Snow Leopard. I highly recommend reading this article if you’re having any trouble at all connecting an HP laser printer to your Mac under Snow Leopard. It provides steps that I will not duplicate here.
I read the article carefully. It told me two things:
- My HP LaserJet 2100TN should work with Snow Leopard, even though AppleTalk was no longer an option. It provided complete instructions for connecting.
- My HP Color LaserJet 2600n would not work with Snow Leopard.
Wow. Was this screwed up. You see, when I couldn’t get the 2100TN to work, I reinstalled the drivers for my 2600n (from the HP Web site) and successfully set it up. So HP was wrong: it would work with Snow Leopard. And no matter how many times I tried to follow the instructions for setting up my LaserJet 2100TN, I was unable to get it to work.
Now the 2100TN is a network printer that uses Enternet connected to a JetDirect device that’s installed on the side of the machine. I recalled having a problem with setup years ago, when I had a static IP address. Back then, I’d had to manually assign an IP address to the printer to get it to work. I really don’t recall why or how I did this, but since it continued to work despite many connection changes, I didn’t change anything.
I pressed the only two buttons on top of the machine simultaneously to get two pages of self-test and configuration information. It told me my IP address was the unlikely 126.96.36.199. I tried repeatedly to use this information with setup, but could not successfully print. Perhaps I had to go back to the default settings?
I found this article on PrinterTechs.com that explained how to do a factory reset of just about any HP LaserJet printer, including mine. I followed the instructions. Then I printed another configuration sheet. Now my IP address was the even more unlikely 0.0.0.0. Of course, this wouldn’t work either.
I powered down the printer, waited a minute or two, and turned it on again. I printed another configuration sheet. Now my IP address was 188.8.131.52. Ah, now we were getting somewhere. But when I used that address, it still wouldn’t work.
I opened the Network preferences pane and saw that Ethernet had a self-assigned IP address. I chose Using DHCP with manual address from the Configure IPv4 pop-up menu and entered 184.108.40.206 (why not?) in the IP address field. I clicked Apply. Then I tried to add the printer again. This time it connected. And when I went back to the Network preferences pane, it showed that Ethernet was connected.
I tried to print and succeeded.
Is this the “right” way to fix this problem? Who knows? All I know is that it works. And you know what they say: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
So it looks like I won’t be buying a new duplex printer after all. I just don’t need it.
And, for the record, the configuration page also told me that I’d printed 35,200 pages during the 10 or so years I’ve had the printer. Sadly, that number was reset along with the IP address.
It’s in the Book!
You can find more information about setting up printers for use with Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard in Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard: Visual QuickStart Guide.:
- Printing & Faxing is covered in Chapter 17, pages 361-388.
- Networking is covered in Chapter 20, pages 445-486.