Using your AppleTalk or LocalTalk printer with Snow Leopard

The problem

When Apple launched the “Snow Leopard” version of MacOS X, they dropped software support for the legacy AppleTalk direct-connect printing protocol and its LocalTalk network printing protocol. This is part of Apple moving towards the use of common application protocols in the Macintosh operating system,

Some Macintosh users use classic printers that they consider as being “worth their salt” and also notice that there is plenty of mileage left in these machines. They are usually less likely to upgrade any of these machines for newer equipment and want to keep them going. A lot of these printers have often been set up to work with the AppleTalk or LocalTalk protocols and most of their users will be wondering how to get them going again.

Use of alternative connections

You may have to use alternative connections for connecting your printer to your Snow Leopard Macintosh or home network.

One method would be to connect the printer to your Mac using a USB cable or, in the case of older printers that use a parallel port, a USB-parallel adaptor cable. These can be obtained from most computer stores or computer markets for a very low price.

Another method would be to connect the printer to the network if it has an Ethernet port and have it print using LPR/LPD or IPP network-printing protocols. This also applies to those printers that use LocalTalk as a network printing protocol. Usually this involves using the printer’s user interface to set the printer to use a fixed IP address on your network and enabling support for LPR/LPD, SMB/CIFS (Windows) or IPP protocols.

Use of a print server device

You may be able to share the printer through a print server, whether as a dedicated device or an older not-so-powerful computer running an older version of the Macintosh operating system or another operating system like Windows or Linux, as an LPR/LPD, SMB/CIFS or IPP printer. Infact, some routers and network-attached storage devices made by various third-party manufacturers have a USB connection and are capable of working as LPR/LPD or IPP print servers.

If you use a computer to share a printer, the printer-sharing software will have to be set up to share the printer on the LPR/LPD, SMB/CIFS (Windows) or IPP protocols.

When you set up your Snow Leopard client machine, you will have to set the “Print Using” option to point to the driver that matches your printer. In some cases, you may have to track down a newer driver that can work on either Tiger, Leopard or Snow Leopard.

Other Resources

How To Resurrect Your AppleTalk Printer In Snow Leopard – The Apple Blog

AppleTalk & Snow Leopard – Apple Support Discussions

Determining the IP Address in your HP LaserJet – Hewlett Packard Support

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