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Mac 101: Get a PC printer running on a Mac. There's a driver for that!

Mel Martin

More Mac 101, tips and tricks for new Mac users.

While this tip may be old news to tech-savvy folk, I think it might help a lot of recent Mac switchers who want to leverage their existing investment in their Windows-compatible peripherals.

I have a friend who has been on Windows forever. He finally had his fill, and after some incessant nagging on my part, he made the switch. What I expected to happen, did happen -- he's thrilled being on a Mac. He's yet to see a crash, and as most of us know, it generally 'just works.'

He did have one problem though. He had a Dell USB printer sitting on his desk. When he plugged it into his MacBook it wasn't recognized, and there was a scrolling list of lots of printers, but nothing from Dell.

A quick web search revealed the printer was actually a rebranded Samsung ML-1710. The Samsung driver page for this printer didn't show any Mac drivers. Searching a bit deeper on Google, we found that an unsupported Mac driver was hiding on the Australian Samsung website.

We downloaded and installed the driver, and what do you know? The printer came up, and printed just fine.

The reality is that there are a lot more printer brands than there are original equipment manufacturers, and it's pretty easy to find out who actually makes a particular printer. If it's a USB printer, chances are good you can find a driver and be quickly printing away. For a wide-ranging solution, the Gutenprint (formerly Gimp-Print) open source project provides drivers for hundreds of older or unsupported printers.

The moral: Don't give up on your PC printer if you feel like it still has life in it; a little bit of online research may turn up a way forward for your Mac. If you have similar happy endings, or unpleasant ones, let us know in the comments. Your fellow readers can learn from your experiences.

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