Printer problem

I have iMac OS X, 10.6.7, 3.06 Ghz, 4 GB. HP Officejet 6500 E710n-z printer. I am new to the Mac. Problem - the only way I can print is to disconnect the printer entirely and plug back in. The printer shows up in the hardware list via a USB port and is the only printer connected - designated default printer. I am not using the fax capability. When I look at the status of the printer waiting for it to print - the message says "waiting for the printer to become available". The current status right now shows idle. I have spent hours with HP help desk trying to solve. Office Depot switched out printer for me thinking it was a (?) loop problem with the 1st machine. This may make me sound very computer savvy - please believe me, I am not! I can continue to plug and unplug, but it sure would be nice to click print and have it happen! Thanks.

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Clarification Request
Is the printer connected directly to the Mac

or is it connected to a USB hub?
Have you tried it in a different USB port?
Have you tried the wireless printing option? If so, does it do the same thing?

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The printer is connected directly

The printer is connected to the USP port on the back of the computer. I have tried all of the ports, bought new cable. The help desk did take me to Air-something (wireless), but had the same problem. I just looked and AirPort On is grayed and AirPort Off is bold. I assume that means that I am not wireless? I did dl whatever HP said to dl for this printer to work for the Mac. I am hooked into a Netgear router - fairly new - b/c of 2 separate computers with cable access.
What is so confusing to me is: the printer is "there", it will print after unplugging and replugging. Why doesn't it work without having to break the connection?

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I show 3 posts but only see 2. Am I missing the connect link or does that 3 include my original question?

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Sometimes the counter gets confused,

currently there are 5 posts, counting this one, in this thread.

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Thanks for the suggestions

I have been away from the computer and will not be able to try any of the suggestions until the weekend. How do I connect with an ethernet cable to the router? Not even sure what an ethernet cable is! My Mac is connected to the router. I do have the fan shaped icon in the menu bar.

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(NT) Let's try the Gutenprint drivers first
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could be a driver problem

To sort out this potential problem, I would download and install Gutenprint drivers (at; current version is 5.2.6). I had some problems with Apple-supplied HP drivers and when I switched to Gutenprint all's well and fast. The download is free.

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Gutenprint drivers

If I dl and install that driver and it doesn't work, can I easily switch back to what I have currently?

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You should be able to

Just choose add printer and choose a different driver when prompted. But in my experience, Gutenprint drivers are more reliable than HP.

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