OK, you non-Mac users, move along. Nothing to see here. You remaining ten folks, limber up your noggins, ‘cuz I’m asking for some help.

Without going into brain-stunning detail, I have a small home network. On my primary server unit, an inkjet printer, the HP 970Cxi, is configured to be available to the network via OS X’s USB printer sharing. It works well for all machines.

However, the HP offers a cool feature that I use when printing locally by default, two-sided printing. On only one of the networked machines does this option appear when printing to the remote queue.

On my main desktop machine, the option is not available in the remote dialogs, but if I plug the printer directly into that machine, the option becomes available.

My main machine is using 10.3.x, the server is under 10.2.x (8, I think), and the other machines that use the service are also under 10.2.x.

I’m digging around at Apple, and my instinct tells me that for some reason, the desktop machine is using two different printer drivers when it should be using the same one for both instances.

Any experience, insight, or opinions out there?

UPDATE: Goodness! MacSurfer linked to this in their headlines. So… Let me add some info resources.

I did find a thread on the Apple Discussions website, not about the disappearing two-sided printer option under USB printer sharing specifically, but about the disappearing option under HP printer drivers. I was unable to use the thread to develop a resolution, however.

Regrettably, Apple deletes old discussion threads after an unreasonably short period – three months – so the utility of the link and the data there is quite llimited.

The gist of the thread is to install the updated HP drivers, and to always work through the ‘Page Format…” dialog when printing. However, not everyone finds that the update respects the two-sided option.

I did install the updated driver, and it did not provide the two-sided option when revising the settings for the remote printer.

UPDATE II: A comment from Manuel led to some thinking, and a patient readthrough of the HP driver readme led to the resolution. HP mentions that version differences between drivers could cause unexpected printer results. So I gingerly installed the updated drivers on the server, and voila, I have access to the 2-sided printing and ink-throttling features again. Thanks, Manny, and thanks Internet!

8 thoughts on “USB printer sharing in Mac OS X

  1. As much as I love some features of Panther I don’t think 10.2x was nearly as quirky (and I think I liked it better). I had problems with my (only) machine not recognizing my printer or certain software at all. I don’t remember how exactly I finally located my printer driver and re-introduced it to the “printer center”, but it required a lot of digging and a lot of banging head on desk. Sorry, I know that’s no help, but I sympathize.

  2. I agree with holy. Networking and printing in Panther is a big step backwards fron 10.2 What is with all the typing IP addresses? Is this a new XP feature so us mac folk can “feel” for windows users?

    As always on the Mac, I named all the drives and partitions on my 4 Mac network and Panther only sees numbers (it realy doesn’t see numbers very well). This is even a bigger advance than dumping metadata? Is it a Ron-da-voo feature?

  3. Did you install the updated driver on the server, delete the printer, and re-add it? And for general OS X printer wonkiness there is a good utility available called Printer Setup Repair. Apple really dropped the ball with the overall printing user experience. Lots of frustrating user interface problems. I was talking to a fine art photography digital printmaker. He said an Apple rep told him Apple does not consider the printer part of the ‘digital hub’.

  4. No, and I doubt I will, as currently it works on the one machine and reports are clearly indicating the update as yet another source of mysterious printer behavior. Seems like Apple and HP are enjoying the beloved Silicon Valley sport of finger pointing.

    Regarding the scuttlebutt on printers not being a part of the hub, sure, I can see that: a hub is where data goes, and once it’s there, it stays there. Oh, wait, that’s a black hole, sorry. 😉

    OTOH, a delete, delete prefs, reinstall w/new driver on a the client might be interesting. I wish I knew why it was operational on Viv’s machine. I didn’t take notes when I set it up.

    I looked at PSR and will monkey with it soon.

    I suspeck that USB printer sharing is a GUI subset of CUPS, and am leaning to exploring that more. Ah, the time. Where does it go?

  5. Hi,

    I wouldn’t be surprised at all if you can add this model to a network via an appropriate HP JetDirect print server. It’ll be expensive but it may solve the problem and it’ll keep you from having to leave a machine on 24/7 as a host for the printer. Definitely check HP’s web site for more information and confirm that the duplexing feature will work when the machine is networked in this manner.


  6. Keifer –

    yes, that’s the problem, but the support page only addresses it as it occurred under OS 9, several years ago, and is not applicable to the current situation, alas.

    Robert –

    I assume that the HP server would indeed solve the problem. To be really specific, I suspect that the product’s existence is also the cause of the problem – after all, why provide full printer functionality over the network if you have a very expensive product that offers that feature?

    The machine stays on all the time anyway, which is why it became a candidate for the local network services.

  7. It sounds like you have different versions of the HP driver on the two Macs. Make sure they are running the same version and then delete and re-add the HP printer on the Mac serving it.

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