Saturday, May 28, 2005


DeskJet Support for Mac OS X

As I described a few days ago, my Mac lost the ability to print to a shared DeskJet printer. The solution was relatively easy (delete and recreate the printer), but I put off trying that for a while because I remembered the original setup of the printer being a frustrating experience, and I've already reached my monthly Macintosh frustration quota.

Why is it frustrating? Well, I have an HP DeskJet 5550 printer. So, when I go to the Printer Setup dialogs to select Printer Model, I choose "HP" and then look for "DeskJet 5550" in the list of HP printers. But that model is not listed.

So what do I do? Can I just choose any DeskJet model and hope for the best? Should I spend time investigating the 30 supported models of DeskJets to determine which is most like mine? Should I try Apple's "Generic Printer" driver?

Apple is not the bad guy here. HP is the organization providing the DeskJet drivers. Their support web site is no help. Apple's printing architecture is built on top of the open-source CUPS stuff, so I spent a little bit of time perusing Linux-related web sites and mailing lists looking for information on CUPS DeskJet drivers, but still couldn't find any information about my specific printer model.

The last time I did this for Mac OS X, I chose the "HP DeskJet 450" model, because I remembered that under Linux I had to use the "dj450" driver to print on my DeskJet. It turns out that the "450" in that driver name was the version number, and had nothing to do with the printer model.

I did find a few postings that suggested that HP's CUPS driver would work for any model of DeskJet, and so it doesn't really matter which model you choose. If that's the case, why provide the list? And if there is a need for a list because a few models have special behavior, why not provide a "Generic DeskJet" choice for the rest?

Anyway, I ended up choosing the "HP DeskJet 550C - Gimp-Print v5-0-0 Beta 2" printer model, which doesn't seem right but is the choice which is least unlike "HP DeskJet 5550." The printer seems to work fine, but I expect it all to blow up in my face.

Thanks! I've changed my setting to "HP DeskJet 900 series - Gimp-Print v5.0.0-beta2", which is what that page seems to be suggesting.
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