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Since many of the people visiting PrinterHacks.com are using a Windows 7 computer, I thought it is time to update my post about connecting a parallel printer to a USB only computer, with instructions using a Windows 7 computer.
Need a USB to Mini-centronics cable?
Need a USB to centronics (parallel) cable?
Although Windows 7 looks nicer than previous operating systems, there is still some bumps along the road when trying to connect a parallel-only printer to your usb-only computer. It’s even more difficult if you’ve got a “special” HP LaserJet printer with a mini-centronics connection along with a stubborn operating system that does not have drivers preloaded for your printer.
With all these issues with backwards compatibility, plug and play turns into plug and pray. I hope you’ll find these steps helpful for connecting a printer with a mini-centronics connection to a computer with only USB ports.
To recap from my previous article, these steps should work with the following HP LaserJet printers (and nearly any printer that has a standard parallel connection):
- LaserJet 3100
- LaserJet 3150
- LaserJet 1100
- LaserJet 3200
- LaserJet 4000
- LaserJet 4500
- LaserJet 4550
- LaserJet 4600
- LaserJet 4650
- LaserJet 5500
- LaserJet 5550
- LaserJet 8100
- LaserJet 8150
- LaserJet 9000
I have personally tested this with an HP LaserJet 1100 printer using a USB to Parallel cable along with the appropriate mini-centronics to centronics adapter recommended below.
1. Connect your printer to your computer.
2. You should see Windows acknowledge the new cable.
3. Windows should install the USB to Parallel adapter drivers, then it will try installing the LaserJet drivers. If you don’t have the printer plugged in properly, or if Windows does not have built-in drivers for your printers (as was my case), you’ll receive an error.
4. Click on the bubble alert to bring up additional information about the failed installation.
5. At this point, some users end up clicking on “Change setting…” and go through the process of having Windows automatically check for drivers for their printer. This didn’t work for me, so instead I opted to use the troubleshooter tool instead. Click close on this box.
6. Go to the start button, click on “Devices and Printers”.
7. There should be a generic printer icon named “IEEE-1284 Controller” or something similar. Right click on this printer icon and select “Troubleshoot”.
8. Windows will attempt to gather information about your printer and see if it can find a suitable solution to this problem (which is that there is no driver already installed for the printer).
9. You will see many messages display across the status window as Windows attempts to find a fix.
10. If all goes well, you’ll see an new window asking to install drivers for your printer (which should also be written out in the dialog box). Select “Apply this fix”.
11. You will once again see messages updating you on the progress of installing the device drivers.
12. As if you have not confirmed enough times, Windows will again ask if you want to apply the fix it has found. Select “Apply this fix” again.
13. As the final confirmation, you should see a resolution to the troubleshooting process. The main issue here is that drivers were not installed for the printer. The troubleshooting tool seemed to fix the issue (you can tell by looking at the green checkmark in the “Problems found” area. Select “Close the troubleshooter” to finish and see your list of printers.
14. If everything went as expected, you will see a generic printer icon with the correct (or semi correct) name of your printer. To test, open any document or webpage and print to this printer.
Didn’t work for you?
If these steps didn’t help or you received some strange problem, installing drivers manually is the next best option. If you would like to see a tutorial about how to install HP LaserJet drivers manually using Windows 7, please leave a comment, I read them all.
A word about drivers and Windows 7
For this tutorial, I was running Windows 7 32-bit. You may have Windows 7 64-bit installed which can cause some unexpected issues with drivers. If you’re not sure of the difference, it’s not important unless you are installing drivers for products that came out before Windows 7. Most reputable vendors will make drivers for their devices for both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems.
Occasionally, hardware manufacturers will choose to not make new drivers for old hardware devices. This was the case with HP and some of their old printers. You may run into issues installing an old printer on Windows 32 or 64-bit, but most likely you will have more problems finding drivers for 64-bit machines.
This is because Windows has mainly been a 32-bit operating system and so there are many drivers available today written for the 32-bit platform which can be used in Windows 7 32-bit. If you find that a driver isn’t available for your printer, leave me a comment and I’ll do some digging if I have the time. Often, I find that a driver for a different model works just as well as the original.