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Unsupported Printers

Way back in 2002 I bought a HP Deskjet 6127 printer. I paid £200 for it, quite a lot at the time, as I wanted a good quality network connected inkjet printer. Move forward a few years to the release of the Mac OS 10.5 Leopard OS and the printer was no longer supported. HP had a statement in their support pages saying drivers were coming soon but they never arrived. With the recent arrival of 10.6 Snow Leopard the situation was looking even worse. I’m not adverse to buying new printers as I have a Canon ip4200 for disc and photo printing, but the HP’s built to last and sits on the network for any computers in Basshead Towers to use. HP were quoting a duty cycle of 5000 pages per month when I bought the printer, here’s it’s status display from the web interface.

From the Total Page Count shown here, I’ve used less than two months of the designed duty. So how do I get this working under Snow Leopard? First stop is the built in drivers. Always check the Apple web site for updated drivers if Software Update hasn’t already installed them. The latest Hewlett Packard Printer Drivers update (at the time of writing this) was on November 6th 2009. With these drivers installed there is no option for the DJ6127, so I tried the Deskjet series driver. Here’s a sample of the print quality this gives.

Not very impressive, looks about as good as the Deskjet 500c I used in the early 1990’s. I found two options to get much better quality. The first is to try drivers for more recent models, as I suspect printer manufacturers don’t start from nothing every time they design a printer. Older designs are improved, so there should be a more recent model that is compatible with the DJ6127. In my case the 6500 Series driver did the trick. here’s the sample.

Much better, everything looks a lot sharper and the colour blends are smooth. I also have support now for the two sided duplexer and the optional high capacity paper tray. The next question is what could I do if one of the other drivers didn’t work?

The Gutenprint project (formerly Gimp Print) provide free Mac OS compatible drivers for printers that are no longer supported by the manufacturer. I used their drivers for the DJ6127 under Leopard and found the print quality to be great, if a bit slower than the HP drivers in 10.4 Tiger. The Gutenprint drivers are compatible with 10.6 Snow Leopard and support hundreds of models from a range of manufacturers.

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