Serial Printing for Mac OS X


Serial Print Enabler

An expanded description of how to add a serial printer with screen shots. (250kB)

Beginning with Apple's Security Update of 2004-04-05 many users of OS 10.3.x began having problems accessing administrative tasks via the CUPS web interface.

Read a description of the problem.

Download a patch to eliminate the need to enter a username and password. (130kB)


This page is intended to help you configure a serial printer to work with Mac OS 10.2.x (Jaguar) and OS X 10.3.x (Panther).

Beginning with OS X 10.2, Apple began using CUPS (Common Unix Printing Software) as the operating system printing software. As supplied by Apple, the CUPS printing software in the Mac OS does not support serial printers. A simple to use installation that will allow the CUPS printing software to recognize and use your serial ports can be downloaded here. It is a simple double-click package installation. Many thanks to Alan Somers for all his work in putting the original package together. Additional thanks to many others for their additional testing and feedback.

I don't pretend to be a developer. I don't have all the answers. I have done some extra searching out of other people's experiences trying to get their serial printers to work and have learned a lot from their successes and failures. I also have been getting good feedback from those who have visited this page. My goal is to have this page be a starting place for Mac users who want to keep their older serial printers working in OS X. It is a work in progress.

Print Drivers

In order to use the serial port for printing, you will need to install suitable printer drivers. There are two main sources for printer drivers. Each source has a list of printers that their drivers will support. Before you download any of the drivers, it is advisable to check to make sure that your printer is supported. If you do not have a PostScript printer and are using you will most likely need to also install GPL Ghostscript. The only time you do not need to install GPL Ghostscript is if you are using the Gutenprint/Gimp-Print drivers and are running OS X 10.3 or higher.


Will This Work With My Printer?

Serial printing in Mac OS X will not work for every printer. Here is the latest list of successes and failures.





Printer Configuration

Even if you have a printer that is listed as supported, you will need to install the Gimp-Print or drivers. There is no way I know of to link the OS X installed drivers to your printer and the serial port. Furthermore, it is doubtful that the OS X installed drivers would even work on a serial port connection. It appears that some manufacturers have merely updated their pre OS X drivers to work in OS X and bypass the CUPS printing system altogether.

The Read Me that accompanies the Serial Print Enabler has the instructions for how to configure your printer. This must be done through the web interface of CUPS. Below are some suggested starting points for printer settings that you will encounter. Most of this information has been culled from looking at various owner's manuals and is my best guess. The table and notes will be updated as further information and confirmation becomes available.

Suggested Initial Settings

Baud Rate Bits Parity Flow Control
HP 57600 8 none RTS/CTS
Epson Stylus Color, Stylus Color II, Stylus Pro 57600 8 none RTS/CTS
ImageWriter, ImageWriter II 9600 8 none RTS/CTS
ImageWriter LQ 19200 8 none RTS/CTS
StyleWriter 4100, 4500, 6500 57600 8 none RTS/CTS

For questions, comments, corrections, additions, or to send me your working configurations, please feel free to e-mail me (or my alter ego) at

This page last updated 29 April, 2012.