Mac printing to a non-Postscript printer

I have to admit I am not a Mac expert. I am a PC guy but I have learned a few things about Mac’s over the years. One of which is that Mac’s like to use Postscript as the default emulation method for printing. Unfortunately, not all printers support Postscript out of the box. In my case, the customer had a Sharp MX-2600N color printer that did not have the Postscript Expansion Kit installed. So even though I downloaded the Mac driver directly from Sharp, the printer would just display a generic error message whenever I sent it a test page.

Fortunately, I found something called Foomatic-RIP. You need to install Foomatic-RIP as well as Ghostscript. Both packages can be downloaded from here:

Once those two things are installed, then you just need a printer definition file (PPD) for your particular printer. You have several choices:

1. You can download and install pxlmono, which is a package of over 1,000 different PPD’s for various printers. If you’re lucky enough to have a printer on this list, you can get pxlmono from here:

2. You can create your own PPD. Since PPD’s are just text files, you might be able to take a PPD for a similar printer and modify it to suit your needs. I’m sure there is a good tutorial for this somewhere on the net, but if that seems like too much work there’s always option 3…

3. Do a Google search for your printer model and “PPD”. Hopefully somebody out there with your exact same printer has already done the work for you. That’s what I did and I found the exact PPD file I needed.

PPD files usually have a .ppd.gz extension because they are gzip’ed. You do NOT need to unzip them. Simply put the gzip’ed ppd file in your /Library/Printers/PPDs/Content/Resources/ folder. You will know you are in the right place if you see a bunch of other PPD files in the same folder.

The final step is to just add a new printer like you would normally on a Mac. If you put the PPD in the right place, it should show up as an option on the “Print Using” dropdown menu.

Update 12/09/2015:

There is another option that is easier and may support more printers. Just install Gutenprint (formerly gimp-print).

It adds a ton of drivers for HP, Brother, Canon, Epson, Sharp and many other printers. The complete list is available here. Then install a printer like you normally would and select the appropriate driver from the “Print Using” dropdown menu.




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