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How to Use Current Printer, Scanner, and Fax Machines with a New Mac

If you want to use your current printer, scanner, or fax machine with your new Mac, you may not have to buy anything extra — or you may need an adapter. The following tips can help you figure out what you need to do:

  • If your PC printer is of reasonably recent vintage and connects with USB, Ethernet, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi, it probably works with your Mac with little fuss. Macs come with oodles of drivers installed for current devices. If none works, check for updated Mac drivers at the printer manufacturer’s website.

  • Older printers with parallel ports require USB–to–parallel port adapters, and the chance of them working is a bit more iffy (though I’ve had good luck using them with old HP laser printers).

  • All-in-one units generally work, but some features — such as receiving faxes on your hard drive — may not work with the Mac. (Get an Apple USB modem if your all-in-one’s fax feature doesn’t play Mac.)

The mantra, again, is “Check with the manufacturer.” Ask if it supports Apple’s OS X Lion edition.

The scanner story is much the same. Recent USB and FireWire scanners should be fine, the latter assuming that your Mac has a FireWire port. Older SCSI devices need a pricey SCSI-to-FireWire adapter and still may not work. Frankly, it may be more trouble than it is worth.

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