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Using AppleTalk printers with Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard"
By Jamie Dresser


With the introduction of Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard", Apple has moved away from a standard that has been in existence since the first days of Macintosh, AppleTalk. That's right, 25 years of AppleTalk has come to an end.

In many ways, AppleTalk was way ahead of it's time. I can remember the days of "The Macintosh Office" where being able to network multiple computers, and a laser printer was truly cutting edge. I was working at the oldest Apple dealership in Illinois in 1986 and recall one of my largest single sales that year was to a local locksmith that self published an exquisitely detailed book in just a couple months using the Mac Plus and LaserWriter I had sold him. He told me that he had paid for his $10,000 investment in less than 6 months on sales of his book - pretty good I'd say! I do wish I still had a copy of it, he made it with Aldus Pagemaker and had created exploded views of safe locking mechanisms, dials, tumblers, etc. - quite an achievement back then.

Enough history. How do you use your old printer with the latest Mac operating system? Simple, really, as long as you have another computer to act as a print spooler. Let's face it, if you have an Intel-based Macintosh, and a printer that's not Bonjour enabled (which has been around for 7 years now anyways), it may be time for a new printer ;>). But if you've got a trust old workhorse, here's how you can still use it.

Items required:

• Macintosh running Mac OS X 10.6
• Macintosh running Mac OS X 10.4 or 10.5
• Printer without Bonjour or TCP/IP support (AppleTalk Only)

Equipment setup as described below:

Mac mini (PowerPC) running Mac OS X 10.5.11, MacBook Pro 17" Unibody running Mac OS X 10.6, HP LaserJet 2200 with no network card installed.
(If I'd had a working LaserWriter, I'd have set that up for this demo, unfortunately that's not the case here but it would work just the same with say, a LaserWriter 16/600 using an AAUI adapter and Ethernet network. Basically, as long as you can print to the device, you can share it to your Snow Leopard machine.

Setting up printer sharing on the Mac OS X 10.4 or 10.5 system

Begin by opening the "Print & Fax" preference pane. If you've not got a printer set up on your system, you'll be greeted by an empty window, as shown here. If you've already been using a printer on this system, it will appear as below.

If you've not configured a printer, simply click the "+" button and your printer(s) connected to the network, or directly connected via USB will appear. Add them by following the on-screen directions, most often it's an automatic process.

10.5 Picture 1
Here you see the locally connected (via USB cable) HP LaserJet 2200. 10.5 Picture 2
Click on the checkbox to share the printer. A warning appears that Printer Sharing is turned off. Click on the radio button next to the warning to enter the Sharing preference pane. 10.5 Picture 3
Clicking the button brings up the Sharing preference pane. Click on the checkbox next to Printer Sharing to start that service. 10.5 Picture 4
NOTE: If you have Energy Saver configured to put your machine to sleep, you'll want to change that now otherwise you'll lose connectivity with the shared printer when the machine goes to sleep. 10.5 Picture 5
Setting up the printer on your Mac OS X 10.6 system

On your machine running Mac OS X 10.6, begin by opening the Print & Fax preference pane. You can see in this screenshot that I have already configured 3 printers.

To add the shared Appletalk printer, click on the "+" button in the bottom of the printer list, and the following "Add Printer" dialog will appear.

10.6 Picture 1

The Add Printer dialog box will scan your network and detect all available printers.

Note here it's seeing my Xerox Phaser 6130N connected to the Ethernet network, as well as the newly shared HP LaserJet 2200 connected to "Test's Mac mini".

10.6 Picture 2
Once you click on the shared printer, it'll automatically determine what print driver to utilize. Click Add to complete adding the shared printer. 10.6 Picture 3
And finally, you see the newly shared printer.

10.6 Picture 4

Congratulations, you have successfully enabled Printer Sharing and extended the life of your old AppleTalk based printer!