MacBook Air–Printing

imageDevvie has an HP Color LaserJet 3600n. The 3600n is attached to her Windows XP desktop via a USB cable and is a shared printer. I wanted her MacBook Air to be able to print from the 3600n over our WiFi network. This was not a problem from the Windows OS I run via VirtualBox (see MacBook Air–Windows in a box). From OS X Lion, different story. To read the latest installment of my attempt to tame OS X Lion, read on.

Part of the problem simply is my OS X learning curve. Obviously, adding a printer in OS X is different than in Windows. Not harder, different, and it is the Windows way I am used to.

Once I figured out how to add a printer in OS X, there was a new issue. The 3600n is not my favorite printer. One reason is standard printer drivers don’t work too well with it. The 3600n has its own specialized driver.

For Windows, I just download the 3600n’s Windows 7 driver from the HP site. But for OS X 10.7 Lion, the HP site advises:

With the release of OS X 10.7 Lion, HP is providing updated print drivers and software. These updates are available through Apple Software Updates in Mac OS X.

However, for Apple Software Updates to “know” you have a 3600n, you need to have installed the 3600n printer on the MBA. But it’s hard to install the 3600n on the MBA without the right driver.

This “chicken or the egg” problem didn’t seem so tough. I connected to the 3600n over the WiFi network and chose some generic driver. I then ran Apple Software Updates. It recognized I had added an HP printer and prompted me to download and install a huge HP printer software package. Mission accomplished!

Not quite. When I tried to change the driver to the 3600n’s, the new long list of HP drivers didn’t include the 3600 series. Now what?

After several self-inflicted blows to the head, it occurred to me that I should connect the MBA to the 3600n via a USB cable. I did. Apple Software Update prompted me to download another HP printer software package. This package included the 3600 series driver!

The rest was easy. I disconnected the USB cable, connected via WiFi, added the printer again, chose the 3600 series driver, mission accomplished.

Maybe there was a simpler way, but I don’t know what it would be. Well, as Conan the Barbarian learned, that which does not kill you makes you stronger.

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