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How to connect OS X to Windows printers via LPD

Sometimes connecting your Mac to a Windows shared printer may not work properly, in which case you can try using the LPD protocol instead.

Often when people have Macs and PCs on the same network, they share resources like printers. While OS X should connect and print to printers shared on Windows machines, sometimes this does not work as expected and the printers either will not show up or will refuse to accept a print job.

When this happens troubleshooting can be tricky, especially since you may have to adjust multiple configuration options to get things working as expected.

OS X's support for SMB networking is secondary to its Unix and Mac-native features, especially in OS X Lion where Apple replaced the open-source Samba Windows networking technology with a new in-house substitute.

To overcome instances where Windows networking does not allow for you to print, one option is to use the Unix-native Line Printer Daemon (LPD) protocol for printing to the Windows machine.

By default Windows does not come with support for sharing printers via LPD, so you will need to install it by following this procedure (Windows XP).

  1. Go to the Control Panel and open Add/Remove Programs.
  2. Click the Add/Remove Windows components section.
  3. Click Other Network File and Print Services, and then click Details.
  4. Select the Print Services for Unix option, and then click OK to install it.

At this point the system will install the print services, so follow any onscreen instructions to complete the task. Then ensure that the Windows printer is shared, and for compatibility ensure the printer name only contains alphanumeric characters with no spaces. It will also help to get the Windows computer's IP address, which can be found by looking in the Network control panel, or by right-clicking the network system tray icon and getting properties.

OS X IP printing setup
Use the "IP" option instead of "Windows" for setting up the Windows shared printer, once the Windows LPD services have been installed. Screenshot by Topher Kessler

With the Windows system now set up to share using LPD, configure your Mac to connect to it by following these instructions:

  1. Open the Print & Scan system preferences and add a new printer.
  2. Click the "IP" section and choose "Line Printer Daemon - LPD" for the protocol (top menu).
  3. Enter the IP address of the Windows computer in the Address section.
  4. Make the Queue name the same as the Windows printer name.
  5. If the printer driver is not automatically detected, then choose "Select Printer Software" from the Print Using menu, and search for the driver that's appropriate for your printer model.
  6. Click the Add button at the bottom of the window to add the printer queue configuration.

At this point the Mac is configured to print to the Windows PC using the LPD protocol, instead of the standard Windows Sharing services.



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