Add Non-USB Connected Printers to Your MacBook

By Mark L. Chambers

No matter which type of printer you add, it needs a driver installed in the Printers folder, which resides inside your MacBook’s Library folder. (A driver is a software program provided by the printer manufacturer that tells Mac OS X how to communicate with your printer.) USB connections to a printer are generally automatic, or at least handled by the printer’s installation software.

Some of the non-USB connections include Windows shared printers and IP printers. Also, if the printer is PostScript compatible, it needs a Postscript Printer Description (PPD) file installed in your PPD folder, which also appears in the Printers folder. Luckily, Lion comes complete with a long list of drivers and PPD files already installed and available — bravo, Apple dudes and dudettes!

To add a Lion-compatible printer, follow these steps:

  1. Launch the manufacturer’s installation application, which should copy the driver and PPD files for you.

    If you have to do things the hard way, manually copy the driver file into the Library/Printers folder and then copy the PPD file (if required) into the Library/Printers/PPD folder.

  2. If you’re adding a physical printer — instead of an application printer driver — verify that the printer is turned on and accessible.

    If you’re printing to a shared printer connected to another Mac or PC, that computer has to be on. Luckily, most network printers (and their computer hosts) remain on all the time.

  3. Display the Print & Scan pane within System Preferences and click the Add button.

    You see the familiar Printer Browser. Shared printers using Bonjour network technology should show up on the default list, so you can click the printer to select it.

  4. To add an IP printer, click the IP Printer button on the browser toolbar.

    Click the Protocol pop-up menu to choose the IP printing protocol (typically either IPP or the manufacturer-specific socket protocol). If you have a choice, it’s always a good idea to use the manufacturer-specific socket.

    Click in the Address box and type the printer’s IP address or Domain Name System (DNS) name, which should be provided by your network administrator or the person running the print server. You can use the default queue on the server by leaving the Queue box blank or select the Queue text box and type a valid queue name for the server.

    If you don’t know a valid queue name, you’re up a creek — hence, my recommendation to use the default queue.

    If you like, you can type a name and location for the remote printer; this is purely for identification purposes. Finally, click the Print Using pop-up menu, choose the brand and model of the remote printer, and then click Add.

  5. To add a Windows printer, click the Windows button on the Printer Browser toolbar.

    Click the correct Windows workgroup that includes the printer(s) that you want to use in the left column. After a scan of the specified workgroup, Printer Browser displays the list of printers that it can access. (Don’t forget to thank His Billness later.)

  6. After everything is tuned correctly, click the Print Using pop-up menu and choose the brand and model of the remote printer.

  7. Click Add to complete the process and admire your new printer on the Print & Scan panel in System Preferences.

Heck, Lion even allows you to order supplies for many printers from the comfort of System Preferences! Sure, you’ll pay a premium price, but think of the techno-nerd bragging rights you’ll enjoy at your next Mac user group meeting!

Click a printer in the Print & Scan pane and click the Options & Supplies button; then click the Supply Levels tab. When you click the Supplies button, System Preferences automatically launches Safari with the proper Web page from the Apple Store.