Our household has multiple Macs, multiple printers, a bunch of attached hard disk drives, and a couple of scanners, all nicely networked, functioning properly.
Until Mac OS X Snow Leopard, all worked just fine. Together. After Snow Leopard, not so much. That’s often the case with any new version of Mac OS X. New features and capability are added, some things that worked now don’t. Or, didn’t. This time Apple was ready with new printer drivers and new features to go with the new kitty.
Driving Miss Bambi
Our printers are new, a few years old, and much older. Some HP, some Canon. The newer printer is an HP all-in-one with a built in scanner. Connected to my Mac is a Canon scanner. Networked is a much older HP printer and a Canon printer. Both have seen better days. Both still work.
Prior to Snow Leopard, all the printers and scanners worked together, though separately. Until I installed all the latest software drivers after Snow Leopard was released, the printers and scanners didn’t work at all, or didn’t work sometimes.
Software drivers (list of major printer software drivers here) are the software that helps Mac OS X communicate with your peripheral devices; printers, scanners, etc.
Once the new printer and scanner software was installed, I set up System Preferences > Print & Fax to select the devices connected to our Macs. Remarkably, almost everything worked.
Almost? One printer is connected to a Time Capsule and networked. That worked fine. Another printer was connected to our iMac and shared. That worked fine. The HP all-in-one printer/scanner is wireless. Printing worked. Scanning did not, though I had installed all the latest software.
Then I remembered reading about one of the little hidden features in OS X Snow Leopard. Scanner sharing. Think of it as printer sharing but with your scanner (if I’m anything, I’m obvious).
Share Me, Elmo
I opened the Print & Fax preference pane and sure enough, the little Canon scanner was listed under Scanners. I clicked the Share button and then tried to scan from another Mac. No go. Ditto with the MacBook via AirPort.
Apparently other Mac users had the same problem using the scanner maker software, and the solution was available on Apple’s Support site. Remember that little Mac OS X utility called Image Capture? It’s the one most of us ignored because your Mac would automatically connect to a USB camera.
Guess what? Image Capture captures images from scanners connected to your Mac network.
I double clicked, and sure enough, the pop up window displayed both the Canon scanner and the HP all-in-one printer/scanner. I clicked the HP first. Scanner is warming up. Then a preview scan popped up.
Device selections are in the left column, the scan is in the middle, and details and preferences are on the left. Click to scan. It was that easy. The image was saved in my Pictures folder, but you can change the location.
I tried the networked shared Canon scanner with the same results. It just worked. The updated software that came with the HP printer/scanner did not. Neither did the clumsy software that came with the Canon scanner.
All our printers now printed from each Mac on the network, and the scanners, for the first time ever, did the same. As a precaution, I fired up Photoshop to see if it would scan using TWAIN, and it did. Life with Apple’s newest kitty was good.
I was able to print and scan on our home network from any Mac at any time. That’s just like I dreamed it would be.