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Monday, August 6, 2007

Connecting Your MacBook to a USB Printer

Connecting a USB printer to your Mac is duck soup. Don't you wish all things in life were this easy? You might very well be able to skip most of the steps described here, depending on whether your printer came with an installation disc. (Virtually all do, but you may have bought yours used, from eBay or elsewhere.)

Your printer needs to be fully supported in Mac OS X:

  • If the software is designed for earlier versions of Mac OS X (such as 10.2 or 10.3), it probably works with Tiger.
  • Visit the manufacturer's Web site to download the latest printer driver and support software after you install your printer. That way, you know that you're up to date.

Save and close your files before installing your printer. You might have to restart your laptop to complete the installation.

The physical connections for your printer are simple:

  • Make sure that your printer's USB cable is plugged into both your Mac and the printer itself.
  • The printer should be plugged into an AC wall socket and turned on (after the USB connection has been made).

Don't forget to add the paper!

The following printer installation steps depend on whether you have a manufacturer's installation CD for your printer.

Using the installation disc

If your printer comes with the manufacturer's installation disc, follow these steps when everything is connected and powered on:

1. Insert the installation disc in your laptop's optical drive.

The disc contents usually appear in a Finder window. If they don't, double-click the installation disc icon on the desktop to open the window.

2. Double-click the installation application to start the ball rolling.

3. Follow the on-screen instructions.

Files get copied to your hard drive.

4. Restart your Mac (if required).

You're ready to print!

Don't forget to visit your printer manufacturer's Web site to check whether any driver updates are available for your particular model.

Installing without the manufacturer's disc

Didn't get an installation CD? Try installing the printer without software or downloading the software from the manufacturer's Web site.

If you didn't get an installation CD with your printer, maybe you're lucky enough that your printer's driver was included in your installation of Mac OS X. Here's how to check for that pesky driver after you connect the printer and switch it on:

1. Open a Finder window and navigate to the Utilities folder.

The Utilities folder is usually inside your Applications folder.

2. Double-click the Printer Setup Utility icon.

3. Check the Printer list in the Printer Setup Utility window to see whether your printer has already been added automatically in Tiger.

If your printer appears here, you can close the Utility window and choose that printer from the Print dialog box in your applications.

If you don't have installation software and your Mac doesn't automatically match the printer with a driver, adding the printer manually is your last installation option. Follow these steps:

1. Open a Finder window and navigate to the Utilities folder.

2. Double-click the Printer Setup Utility icon.

3. Click the Add icon on the Printer Setup Utility toolbar.

4. Click the Print Using pop-up menu.

The list of supported printer models appears.

5. Click the closest match to your printer in the Print Using list.

Figure 1 shows an example of some of the printer models recognized in Tiger. If you don't find an exact match for your printer, you have a couple of options:

• Look for just the brand name, such as Epson.

• Try the generic USB setting. If you choose USB, Tiger defaults to Auto Select for the printer model. You can manually change this if the automatic selection wasn't right.

Figure 1: Choosing a printer from the Add sheet's drop-down list.

6. Click Add.

The other option is to check the manufacturer's Web site for your printer's software. Look for special software drivers and installation applications that the printer might need. If the manufacturer offers an installation application for your printer, download the application and run it.

Install any drivers you find before you run an installation application.

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