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How to use a printer with OS9

One of the regular questions among Mac OS folks is usually the question of "which printer to use?". Well, basically you've got two choices.

The two choices for printing

First choice: If you happen to have an old printer from the Mac OS era, just hook up the printer to your Mac and install the respective drivers. Follow its setup guide. A good bunch of old drivers can be found at the Macintosh Garden's Driver & Hardware Support section.

The other choice is to use a Postscript-compatible printer. PostScript is a programming language for printing. Good thing is your Mac comes with a generic Postscript driver. That spares you the hassle of locating a printer-specific driver. (in many cases, there are no drivers for OS9 anyway - like for my own Kyocera FS-1370DN)

How to setup a Postscript-printer on Mac OS

Easy. Follow these steps:
  • Connect printer and your computer with an Ethernet cable, e.g. via a Ethernet switch. (depends on your home setup)

  • Optional: Make sure Postscript is activated on your printer. I had to do it manually on mine!

  • Start your printer and Mac. When in Mac OS, open the "Chooser" from the Apple menu.

  • You should see a "Laser Writer" icon. Click it. Even without an Apple Laser Writer, we'll be using its driver. Now click on the "Create" button to create a new printer.

  • You'll be asked for a printer specific PPD. Just use the "Generic PPD". That's the generic driver I talked about above.

  • Save your changes. Now when you open the chooser, you should see your printer shown as Postscript-compatible printer like here:

click to enlarge

It might take a short while (up to 30 seconds in my case) before your Mac recognizes the printer. However, I found it far easier than setting up my network printer on OS X. And I've setup both my Power Macintosh G4 and my Power Mac 8600/200 running OS 7.6.1 in this way.

If it is still not working, try to download the latest Laser Writer drivers. One reliable source has been the drivers section on System 7 Today.

Happy printing on your obsolete Mac hardware!

Last edited: June 10th, 2020

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