Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Printing from the MacBook to a Canon MP 800 over an XP Network

I don't print all that much so it was not that big of a deal but I never managed to get the MacBook to print to our Canon MP 800. That's not entirely true. I could plug the MacBook into the USB port of the printer and it worked fine but I wanted it to be able to print over the network. Unfortunately, it's a Windows XP network that I run. Mrs. Khan has to have her Windows machines.

After a lot of looking around I ran into two web sites that helped me get things working. Finally!

The first web site suggested using some non-standard print drivers. The driver that came with the printer either only works if it's directly plugged in, doesn't drive through an XP network or has some other issue. Needless to say, it didn't work for me over the network.

Guten-Print is a suite of printer drivers that may be used with Macintosh print spooling systems. They have a list of printers that they support. Mine wasn't amongst them but the driver for the Canon PIXMA iP4200 (I finally figured out) worked.

Download and install.

Great, still doesn't work but it was a start and a necessary step.

Onto web site two. Boy this was a find. Rarexample's description of how to print from a Mac Leopard to a shared Vista Printer explained some very non-obvious steps that needed to be taken. The steps also worked for my XP system. I am not going to reproduce all of his effort here but I want to highlight the critical steps required to make this work.

On the PC
  1. Set up the Printer on the XP computer that will act as the Printer Server.
  2. Share the Printer over the Network.
There are a lot of guides on how to do this so I won't reproduce them. This will most likely be set up already if you've been printing from the PC for a while.

On the Mac
  1. Go to Apple -> System Preferences -> Print & Fax (as of MacOS X 10.5.7).
  2. Click the + button to add a new printer.
  3. Ctrl-click the grey bar at the top of the window and select Customize Toolbar.
  4. Drag Advanced to the toolbar and click done.
  5. Eventually the new Advanced button will be active.
  6. Select Windows as the type.
  7. Type in the IP address of the XP computer and the printer's name. It will look like this: smb://
  8. Select the Guten-Print driver from the Print Using drop down. Save and close.
That's it. I can finally print. Go to rareexample's web site to see how well this works and read the comment's left from many of us who found this useful. The route he discovered is not obvious and the problem is not something that the average user would be able to solve on their own.

And that sucks in terms of usability, Apple. Does setting up a printer really need to be this hard? Do you need to hide the critical controls? Here's hoping that Snow Leopard doesn't break this functionality and that the critical steps are more obvious in future releases.


Digeias said...

Thank you very much it helped a lot....

StevenRay said...

Will this work on Leopard 10.5?

Mac Hacker said...

I applied it in Leopard but it still works for me in Snow Leopard. I have not uninstalled and retested. Hope that helps.