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Share a USB printer on a LAN Network
There are several tricks for sharing a USB printer on a Mac network, using Applescript, or using UNIX tools like Ghostscript, lpr printing, etc, but these are not well suited for novices. This note describes a hardware trick that lets you use at least two Epson printers as sharable network printers on a LAN. This trick may work with other printers, but I have no way to test that.

Basic idea: Get a print server that does parallel port to ethernet conversion, enable the AppleTalk protocol in the print server, then print to the "USB" printer as an AppleTalk printer, with the print server making the printer's parallel port function as an AppleTalk connection. So, the way you share a USB printer on a LAN is that you don't even use the USB connection! Most USB printers also have a parallel port connection.

Read the rest of the article for the details...

Specific hardware I use: Epson C80 USB/parallel printer, D-link 101P+ parallel port print server. The C80 can be had for $140, with Epson rebate and the D-link can be found on the net ( for about $67, giving you a networked printer for just about $200.

How to proceed:
  1. Install the Jan. 4th, 2002 Epson printer driver update. Check in Print Center that one of your choices in "add printers" is an "Epson USB" directory services option.

  2. Make sure that you have AppleTalk turned on in the Network system prefs.

  3. Follow the dlink directions for connecting the 101P+ to the printer. Set your computer's network settings to some IP 192.168.0.xx so that you are on the same subnet as the print server, so its web based configuration program will work. NOTE: IE 5 didn't display the setup page correctly, but Omniweb did.

  4. On the Dlink, set AppleTalk Printer Type to "EPSONLQ2" and Server Name to "EpsonC80" without the quotes.

  5. Install the C80 OSX driver and make sure you can print via USB. Go to print center add printer, select Epson Apple Talk as the connection type the Epson C80 will appear select it and you can use the printer!

  6. I suggest doing this in stages. I first printed via USB from my Tibook. Then used an ethernet cable and the procedure above with a direct ethernet connection from my Tibook to the printserver>printer. Then rerouted the cables through my HUB. Then tested with the Tibook connecting over airport (which works!), finally tested the other machines on the LAN.
Unless Apple or Epson breaks this in a future release of drivers, this appears to be a good solution for sharing a printer. I suspect that this trick will work with other USB/parallel printers (anyone wanna try an HP?), but I don't know for sure.

[Editor's note: I tried something similar with our Epson 890, but was not successful and wound up using the USB port. I think I'll try again with the newest drivers.]
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no need
Authored by: brodie on Jan 10, '02 05:48:41PM

i may be wrong, as i have yet to try this, but cant you use appletalk usb network printer share? as you used to in chooser, you now can in print centre in the drop down menu. i may be wrong but i dont think Apple would have done away with such a utility, it appears in the drop down menu so i guess its possible.

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HP's don't work (yet)
Authored by: balthisar on Jan 10, '02 06:04:56PM

(Brodie -- there's no USB printer sharing in OS X yet, but it's rumored for 10.2)

Original Post:
This technique is the generally-accepted way of putting a printer -- any printer -- onto a network (except those that have built-in print servers). Although you have to pay money for the printer server (or a router with a built-in print server) this is WAY more convenient than using the clunky Apple USB printer sharing:
1) the host computer does NOT have to be on to print from another computer (the server is the host computer)
2) you can remotely administer the server and turn on/off features according to your network, such as allowing Windows machines to print, Linux boxes, pure Unix boxes, Macs prior to OS 9, and in some cases, even Mac OS X computers!

1) for some reason, HP printers have never seemed to have the ability to detect ink levels when on a network (boo hoo; I've not missed it).
2) if you're on broadband (cable/always-on-DSL), and unless you're using a firewall (like your broadband router), people could potentially print to your printer!

This hint is a GREAT hint in the general sense, and even if Apple does add USB printer sharing, I'd still try to steer you away from it.

These "external" print servers almost always use the parallel port, which most USB printers have, so it's entirely do-able.

HOWEVER, for the time being, this will ONLY WORK with certain Epson printers (as described in the hint) and PostScript Level 2 printers. HEWLETT-PACKARD printers WILL NOT work like this out-of-the-box. This is why the original post refers to using GhostScript (and why my hint is on this web-site showing you how) for certain networked printers. HP *is* planning AppleTalk-compatible drivers, though, so this hint WILL work eventually.

If you have an HP, Canon, or other unsupported printer you want to network, you still connect your printer as described in this hint, but you'll need to search this board for MY hint to get GhostScript working for you.

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HP's don't work (yet)
Authored by: elzevir on Aug 17, '02 02:39:22PM

Let me know when someone gets an HP7550 working (other than the Ghostscript route which seems to result in lower quality when printing photos, etc). I have a Dlink DP-313 and am trying to avoid connecting via USB to the printer. For my PCs, it works perfectly. It looks perhaps Mac OS X 10.2 with CUPS might make it work. For now, I'll just have to plug in my G4 to my printer when I need to print.

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Didn't work with Epson 740
Authored by: mithras on Jan 11, '02 12:46:34PM

Thanks for the hint. Sadly, no luck with my Epson print server and a Stylus Color 740.

As in balthisar's hint, the printer shows up with atlookup in the Terminal. But, it doesn't show up under "EPSON Appletalk", even with tweaks to the printer name, Appletalk Network #, etc.

Just have to keep waiting for an Epson update, I guess...

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Epson 870
Authored by: khaled on Jan 12, '02 11:38:08AM

Hi all,,,

It works ! Now, I can print to my Epson Stylus Photo 870 from my AirPort equiped PowerBook G4.
I ran into a problem setting up my WinXP box, I ended up DOWNGRADING my firmware, now at 1.38 :(

Will someone please email me 2.0 (or newer) firmware ? It isn't on their site and support only operates Monday-Friday.

Please, if you can email the firmware from your DP-101P+ (just download it from your device). I'm down to telnet connection, no fancy web browser support.

Thanks a lot.

My email:

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Axis 1440/Epson740 and Classic
Authored by: Christopher on Jan 27, '02 11:39:02AM

This looks very promising. I have been using an Axis 1440 and an Epson 740 this way in OS9 (there is an AppleTalk driver for the 740 on Epson's website), and I have been frustrated to not be able to do it in OSX. Unfortunately the OSX driver for the 740 does not support this connection via Epson AppleTalk as in Anonymous's hint. I have found out how to make it work in Classic. Previously, if I have opened the Chooser in Classic, there are no options in the right hand box whenever I select the 740(AT) driver, nor for the LaserWriter 8, nor for the AppleShare icon, or my old fave, Broadcast. It dawned on me today why, and when I looked at the AppleTalk control panel I found the connect via pop-up set to Built-in Ethernet. Now I use an iBook with an AirPort card - which is why I want to be able to see this printer on the network; I can print anywhere around the house. There is no option named 'AirPort' anymore, but there is a new one called 'Ethernet Slot 1' so I switched the AppleTalk connection to this, and all my AT devices and volumes now show up in the Classic Chooser. Why they renamed it I can't imagine. Anyway, I can print wirelessly to the 740 now from Classic, and also from X if I use the workaround of saving a print preview as a PDF and then printing it from a classic app like Acrobat Reader 4.
If anyone has access to an Axis and an Epson C80, I'd like to know if they work as in the original hint above, as I'd buy a C80 to get around this awkward way of doing things.


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Axis 540+/ESP 1200 and Classic or X
Authored by: CrunchGriz on Mar 25, '02 03:16:10PM

I am one of the disaffected owners of the Epson Stylus Photo 1200 without a viable driver for OS X. I have a 450 Mhz iMac DV+, with OS X 10.1.3, and an Axis 540+ print server, which supports Appletalk. I have set the printer name to "EPSONLQ2" in the print server software, and have updated the Axis firmware to its latest version, 6.0.

In the last two weeks I have:

1. Tried to install a hacked driver for the 1200 (from a 1270 driver)--the Print Center quits whenever it's installed;

2. Tried Jim Derry's excellent hack for unsupported drivers using NetInfo, the Axis 540+ print server, and Ghostscript--all I got to print was gibberish; and

3. Tried the Axis 540+ print server using OS 9 and Epson's 1200AT drivers for the Axis 1440 print server--more, although different, gibberish. The printer shows up in the Chooser, but prints only gobblydegook.

The print server test page works when I print it through the Axis 540+, but I can't get anything else recognizable.

Questions (mostly regarding printing in OS X):

1. What print servers has everyone gotten to work with the tip that started this thread (besides the D-Link)?

2. With what printers have you been able to make a print server work using this tip, using either Jim Derry's hints or this tip? (If I'm going to buy a new printer, I'd prefer to have one I can network--USB has been hinky for me in the past.)

3. Are there any settings on the Axis 540+ that I need to set to make it work, under either OS 9 or X?

Thanks to all for any hints or allegations.

Needless to say, I'm amazed that Epson can create an OS X driver for the Photo 750 (however rudimentary) yet can't create a driver for the 1200, which is essentially the same printer with a wider carriage. A two-year old, $500 printer should not be made obsolete through abject laziness.

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C80 and C60
Authored by: greyhawk on Jul 19, '02 01:38:27AM

Wow. Not all print servers are created equal. The D-Link ROCKS!

I have been trying to use some other print servers to do this, and I had NO success. Then, bought a D-Link, and, viola, it just works!

With my C60, and with a friends C80. Don't know about other printers, but it works with these.


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C80 and C60
Authored by: Christopher on Aug 28, '02 06:39:03PM

Patience wins out! With 10.2 I can see and use the Epson 740/Axis 1440 combination from OSX. At last....

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D-Link 704P - any suggestions
Authored by: fivespan on Oct 23, '02 09:23:20PM

Printer options on the 704P do not exist. Any idea on how I might proceed?

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