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How To's

Mac printing to a non-Postscript printer

I have to admit I am not a Mac expert. I am a PC guy but I have learned a few things about Mac’s over the years. One of which is that Mac’s like to use Postscript as the default emulation method for printing. Unfortunately, not all printers support Postscript out of the box. In my case, the customer had a Sharp MX-2600N color printer that did not have the Postscript Expansion Kit installed. So even though I downloaded the Mac driver directly from Sharp, the printer would just display a generic error message whenever I sent it a test page.

Fortunately, I found something called Foomatic-RIP. You need to install Foomatic-RIP as well as Ghostscript. Both packages can be downloaded from here:

http://www.linuxfoundation.org/collaborate/workgroups/openprinting/macosxfoomatic

Once those two things are installed, then you just need a printer definition file (PPD) for your particular printer. You have several choices:

1. You can download and install pxlmono, which is a package of over 1,000 different PPD’s for various printers. If you’re lucky enough to have a printer on this list, you can get pxlmono from here:

http://www.linuxfoundation.org/collaborate/workgroups/openprinting/macosxpxlmono

2. You can create your own PPD. Since PPD’s are just text files, you might be able to take a PPD for a similar printer and modify it to suit your needs. I’m sure there is a good tutorial for this somewhere on the net, but if that seems like too much work there’s always option 3…

3. Do a Google search for your printer model and “PPD”. Hopefully somebody out there with your exact same printer has already done the work for you. That’s what I did and I found the exact PPD file I needed.

PPD files usually have a .ppd.gz extension because they are gzip’ed. You do NOT need to unzip them. Simply put the gzip’ed ppd file in your /Library/Printers/PPDs/Content/Resources/ folder. You will know you are in the right place if you see a bunch of other PPD files in the same folder.

The final step is to just add a new printer like you would normally on a Mac. If you put the PPD in the right place, it should show up as an option on the “Print Using” dropdown menu.

Update 12/09/2015:

There is another option that is easier and may support more printers. Just install Gutenprint (formerly gimp-print).

http://gimp-print.sourceforge.net/index.php

It adds a ton of drivers for HP, Brother, Canon, Epson, Sharp and many other printers. The complete list is available here. Then install a printer like you normally would and select the appropriate driver from the “Print Using” dropdown menu.

 

 

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Discussion

5 Responses to “Mac printing to a non-Postscript printer”

  1. For someone who is not a Mac person and not much of a computer person in general, could I ask a question or two? We have recently gotten the exact copier you mentioned and have someone in the office that wants to use a Mac. They would need to download all the files you mentioned above and that would need to be done for anyone who wanted to use a Mac, correct?

    Posted by Timj | May 27, 2014, 2:34 pm
  2. This article was a life saver – thank you so much! I was just about to resort to purchasing a rather expensive Sharp MXPKX1 PS3 postscript kit.

    Posted by rob | April 8, 2015, 3:52 pm
  3. I’m using a MacBook Air running Yosemite and trying to connect to a Sharp MX-3115N. I downloaded Foomatic-RIP and Ghostscipt, downloaded the PPD file (both from Sharp and from The Linux Foundation).

    I have tried adding the printer both through Default (Bonjour) and IP. Essentially if I don’t get an error message when I try to print something, I just get the printer warming up to print sound.

    Any thoughts or suggestions? Please and thanks!

    Posted by Bobby Botnick | May 20, 2015, 2:17 pm
  4. Hi there, i’m in a similar situation as most of the above people.
    We’ve got a MX2600N and i tried installing Footmatic and Ghostprint but once this is done, the printer warm up and nothing happen.
    Kent, you’re mentioning in your post that you were intalling a MX2600N which is actually not on the list of drivers.
    Which one did you use? did you manage to print colors after that as it seems to be a problem for most users?

    I hope you’ll repsond to these few comments….

    Thanks

    Posted by remi | May 30, 2016, 5:30 am
  5. i have a sharp mx-2300n. it does not seams to work with my mac. Does this procedure applies to mac 10.11 (el capitan)?

    Posted by Abu Tee | June 29, 2017, 3:54 am

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