Printerhacks » Tutorials » How to Connect a Parallel HP Printer to a USB Only Computer
How to Connect a Parallel HP Printer to a USB Only Computer

Note: This post contains Amazon links as an Amazon Associate, may earn money from qualifying purchases.

This tutorial allows you to connect a Windows XP based computer to one of these HP printers:

  • LaserJet 3100
  • LaserJet 3150
  • LaserJet 1100
  • LaserJet 3200
  • LaserJet 4500
  • LaserJet 4550
  • LaserJet 4600
  • LaserJet 4650
  • LaserJet 5500
  • LaserJet 5550
  • LaserJet 8100
  • LaserJet 8150
  • LaserJet 9000

Running Windows 7?

Please see the updated USB to Parallel article with Windows 7 instructions.

One of the most asked about question I receive is about connecting older HP LaserJet printers to new computers. Whether it be that HP computer or the new Dell laptop, it’s easy to connect older printers to these new computer systems giving them a new life and saving you money of purchasing new computers. I guess you could say, this is a guide on how to by or make an HP LaserJet 1100 printer cable or HP LaserJet 4600 printer cable.

To give a fair background, HP made mainly 2 different types of parallel printer ports. The first is typically called a mini-centronics (Small C-type connector – HP p/n C2946A) connector. It looks somewhat like a small SCSI connector. I’m not sure as to why HP decided to use this form of connection because no other printer company used it, and HP continued to incorporate this type of connection up to the newer HP Color LaserJet 4600 series. From testing, it’s doesn’t appear to be any faster then a standard parallel cable or offer any other benefits besides HP selling their special cables.

The other type of parallel port is a standard 36-pin centronics connection. Most printer companies used this type of connection making it universal and easy to find a cable to connect up to your computer.

For this tutorial, I’ll be using a standard Windows XP operating system and connecting it to an HP LaserJet 1100 printer using these products.

If you find that your new computer doesn’t have a standard parallel port, this USB to Mini-Centronics (IEEE 1284-C or IEEE 1284C) combo cable set is perfect to connect these older printers to a USB only computer. Installation is very easy and straightforward. Simply attach the USB to parallel cable to the mini-centronics adapter and plug each end to the printer and computer. If you’re using Windows XP or Vista, the USB drivers install automatically. Then, you’ll need to install the individual printer drivers, most of which are built into Windows XP. Please note: These adapters will work with Multi-Function or All-In-One printers, but only for printing (in other words, they won’t allow you to use the faxing or scanning functions). Also, they do not work with anything other than printers. They will not work with other parallel devices.


Installation procedures

1. Connect the USB to Parallel adapter to your windows XP computer. You should hear a audible sound that new hardware has been found along with a new bubble dialog box that says, “USB Printing Support”.

USB Setup Dialog Box

2. Go to the Printers folder located in Start: Control Panel: Printers and Faxes, and then click on “Add a Printer” or go to File: Add Printer.Add a printer

3. The add a printer dialog box appears. Select “Next”.

Step 1

4. Select the ratio button next to, “Local printer attached to this computer” and make sure the box next to “Automatically detect and install my Plug and Play printer” is unchecked, then select “Next”.

Step 2

5. Here you’ll need to select our newly created port. Ensure the ratio box next to “Use the following port:” is selected. In the list of ports, select “USB001 (Virtual printer port for USB)”, and then select “Next”.

Step 3

6. We’ll now be selecting an appropriate driver. The nice feature about the HP Laserjet 1100 is that the driver for this printer is built in to Windows XP. Simply select HP on the left side of the window, and then select “HP LaserJet 1100 (MS)” and press “Next”. Below is a list of printers and if their drive is built-in to Windows XP, or if you choose to use the latest driver from HP, there are the links to their product pages.

Step 4

7. This next step gives you the opportunity to name the printer whatever you wish. I generally stick to the actual name of the printer, but if you have more then one, or if you have an identical printer on the network, I would encourage a more descriptive name like, “HP LaserJet 1100 USB Cable”, or “HP LaserJet 1100 Local Printer”. When you’re finished with naming the printer, you can choose to select if you would like it set to the default printer meaning when you’re in any application like Microsoft Word, the first choice of printer it will use is the HP 1100 we’re creating now. I would recommend local printers becoming the default since most likely you’ll be using those the most. When you’re finished with your choice, select “Next”.

Step 5

8. In this next part, you have the option to share this printer on your network. If you have a small home network this isn’t a bad idea and can save you money and time by not having to purchase an additional printer or switch. The downside to sharing a printer is that the computer must remain on when you need to print from another computer. For the sake of this tutorial, we won’t share the printer. Go ahead and select “Next” again.

Step 6

9. Here it simply asks if you want to print a test page which won’t start until we’re all done. I recommend this unless you’re not ready with the paper, or if you’re feeling lucky today. Go ahead and press, Next.

Step 7

10. In this last step, when you press finish, Windows will load the driver you selected into the drivers folder embedded deep down in the Windows root. By default most Windows XP computers will go ahead and finish this step with no problems. If it doesn’t have the driver like it thought it did in an earlier step, a genuine Windows XP CD may be needed. If you experience trouble when finishing with this step (drivers don’t load or you don’t have the Windows CD), go ahead and download the drivers straight from HP and try these steps again. When everything is copied over and loaded, a test page should print.

Step 8

You should see a new icon in your “Printers and Faxes” folder which you named earlier. If it doesn’t appear, go ahead and restart Windows and repeat this tutorial.

NOTE: I’ve received reports that the 4250/4350 series printers are having USB issues. This USB-to-Parallel cable will work with these printers, however, after everything is installed a restart of the print queue is required (simply restart Windows). I’m not sure why this is because on other non-USB printers, this works without a restart.

UPDATE: There have been reports that this trick does not work with an HP PSC500 all-in-one inkjet printer which uses the C-Type parallel connector (mini-centronics).

Product used in this tutorial

[amazon template=thumbnail&asin=B004U6JNX0]

Sewell USB to Mini Centronics Cable Set, 5 ft.

If you find that your new computer doesn’t have a standard parallel port, this USB to Mini-Centronics (IEEE 1284-C or IEEE 1284C) combo cable set is perfect to connect these older printers to a USB only computer. Installation is very easy and straightforward. Simply attach the USB to parallel cable to the mini-centronics adapter and plug each end to the printer and computer. If you’re using Windows XP or Vista, the USB drivers install automatically. Then, you’ll need to install the individual printer drivers, most of which are built into Windows XP. Please note: These adapters will work with Multi-Function or All-In-One printers, but only for printing (in other words, they won’t allow you to use the faxing or scanning functions). Also, they do not work with anything other than printers. They will not work with other parallel devices.

58 Comments (Leave a Reply)

  1. TS7363 (September 24, 2008)


  2. Alessandro (October 2, 2008)

    Hi, where did you find that mini-centronics to parallel adapter? Thank you.

  3. Philip Attard (October 15, 2008)

    Your help was very useful

  4. Jeff (November 12, 2008)

    My problem is that when I connect the printer windows detects a new device as “unrecognize the device connected”. This does not allow me to select the printer because of a mismatch. (WinXP, SP1 and HP1100, USB cable)

    Have you heard of this problem? Could USB port be bad? I can connect USB thumb drives with not problems

    Any toughts?

  5. christina mappoura (November 18, 2008)

    I am actually looking for a usb to parrell cable and/or adapter for my new laptop using windows vista and the printer is an old hp laserjet 1100. can you assist please?

  6. Claude (November 24, 2008)

    I have a HP LaserJet 1100 with a 25-pins parralel connection. I need to know the exact cable adapter (& product #) to connect my 25-pins to my new computer with only usb port. Those connections are shown on the first page of your site. There is a cable and a connector. Thanks to reply. Regards. Claude.

  7. Richard (January 14, 2009)

    I have two really old printers I want to connect to my new 64 bit Vista PC. I bought a USB to Centronics cable and have installed each various times according to your (and the cable mfr, Gigaware) instructions but the results are always the same. None of the trials I have made work but the results are dependent upon the port I select: If I select “USB001(Virtual printer port for USB)” I get output on another USB printer I have connected that works fine. (A Dymo lablewriter) If I select “USB002(Virtual printer port for USB)” I get output on yet another USB printer I have connected that also works fine (HP photosmart 7960). If I connect to any other port in the list of possible connections, I get no output anywhere and the control panel for the printer I am trying to install says “Error” and lists the document I am trying to print. Since I have two different printers that both don’t install the same, I’m thinking there may be something I am doing wrong. Can you help?

  8. ricardo (January 15, 2009)

    THX!! I do happen to have an HP LJ 1100A…!
    My system did not detect the cable nor installed the “usb printer support”, as indicated in step one. I had to download the cable’s driver from the maker ( usb to db25 parallel cable) before going to step two. All the rest was just like it. Btw, I got the cable from my local Altex since Best Buy didn’t have it. Thx again.

  9. janet (January 31, 2009)

    Is there a way to connect my original LaserJet 1100 printer cable to another type of adapter so that I can use a USB port on my laptop? Or is buying a mini-centronics adapter, then connecting a standard 36-pin centronics USB adapter the only workaround?

    • printertech (January 31, 2009)

      I’m not aware of any other way of connecting a mini centronics computer to a USB port.

  10. moon (February 6, 2009)

    I got the “unrecognized hardware” message as well. Then I followed the instructions on the Sewell Direct site (where I got the cord) and tried plugging just the USB to parallel adapter cord alone. Wait a few minutes, and your computer will recognize the cord. Then plug the cord into the parallel to mini centronics (already plugged into my printer) and “ta-da!” it works like a charm!

  11. Axel (February 16, 2009)


    I use a device that sends a read out to a line printer via a parallel connector. I want to eliminate the printing process and send the read out strait to my computer through its USB connection (my computer doesnt have a parallel port). Will this procedure work for me? If not, any advice?

    Im thinking its not as simple as just buying a USB to Parallel cable, is it??


  12. Farki (March 9, 2009)

    It is work well white Convertor USB to paralel DB25 M. looking to find how can i make to working white scaner. 🙂 thankx !

  13. Jackie Flowers (August 25, 2009)

    I have a HP color laserjet 4600 that I bought the cable for to make it connect to my new hp (vista) computer. It worked for awhile but for some reason it has stopped. We have tried to unload and reload the printer but no luck. It thinks it is printing now but thats all it ever says “printing” Please help

  14. fari (November 2, 2009)

    1) How to connect HP8100Printer to my Lenovo ThinkVision usb?

    2) How to network this Printer to our computers?

  15. Tony (November 19, 2009)

    HP LaserJet 1100 ?
    Laptop newer Vista 32bit
    Has anyone tried just using a USB to Parallel DB25 M/F cable, to a gender bender if necessary, then connect the USB cable to the laptop and let it recognize, then connect the original HP cable that came with the 1100 (DB25 M to Mini Centronix connected to the printer) and did it work?

    I may have missed something, but it looks like everyone is looking for a instant 1 cable exact solution match that seems more expensive.

    It seems it is just USB to Parallel Device Port, so let the OS recognize the parallel port, then connect the lose end of the original printer cable, and then define the device if it is unrecognized. The HP LaserJet 1100(MS) is in the default list of known printers.

  16. Jeanie (December 4, 2009)

    I have been able to connect an hp 1100 for printing to windows vista.

    The key appears to be downloading the xp drivers and updates from hp and install those. The hp 1100(ws) drivers do not work.

    I aslo did not connect the printer until after installing the usb connecter and then the printer.

  17. Carol Ann (December 13, 2009)

    I have an HP 1100 and would like ot connect via USB to my new Toshiba laptop. I have ordered two USB parallel cables and both wrong fitting for the HP 1100. The last guya ssured me that USB to DB25 female parallel printer cable would be correct and it is still too big for the connection on the printer. Can you please tell me the exact cable I need and where I can order one. I am running on Vista. Thank you so much, this has been driving me crazy for months.

  18. Terry (December 18, 2009)

    Yes i have a Hp 4600 And I would like to know if i can use it on my mac. I see that they make a 25 pin to usb is that all it takes. thank you Terry.

  19. steve sidhu (December 29, 2009)

    Question: (Parallel printer to USB) Current configuration is 2 parallel printers connectors on back of PC with a DB25 male connector to a female DB25 extension cable (female on both ends)to printer location. Then DB25 male cable from extension cable to standard 36 pin parallel printer cable into back of printer. I need a USB to DB25 male cable and will that work?

  20. Allen Webb (February 1, 2010)

    I am using my “old trusty” HP Laserjet 4000 printer that I wish to retain as it is a real workhorse for what I do in my part-time job.

    I am, however, moving to Linux and am partial to these two operating systems that I am currently testing:

    1. PC-OS Open Workstation that is a supercharged version of Xbuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala)

    2. PCLinuxOS-2009.2 which is based on KDE.

    At this time I am also upgrading my computer with an AMD Phenom processor and new motherboard. I want, if possible, to use an AM3 socket motherboard which uses DDR3 memory. HOWEVER, I HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO FIND A MOTHERBOARD THAT USES THE NEW SOCKET AND DDR3 MEMORY AND HAS A PARALLEL PORT. Parallel ports are fast going the way of floppy disks — if they haven’t, for all practical purposes, already done so!

    Thus, I am at your front door begging for information and guidance as to how to proceed. Do I have a chance to make it or should I bite the bullet and try to find a new printer that will serve my purposes?

    I look forward to your answer and wish to offer my most sincere Thank You for your time and courtesy in advance.

    Allen Webb
    Richmond VA

    PS: I know this is not a “reply” as noted above but could not readily not find an appropriate means to contact you.

  21. Charles Thompson (February 4, 2010)

    I tried following your advice to connect my HP 600C Deskjet to a USB port on my laptop running Windows ME, but I don’t get a choice to select USB001.

    When I tried adding a port USB001 the PC says
    port not recognized!

    Can you give me some help on this? Thanks.

    Charles Thompson

  22. Jatin Kumar (March 1, 2010)

    Hai, i have a question. i have 2 pc and 1 printer with usb and parrallel port both (HPP2014), can i use USB for 1 pc and parrallel for another pc, will it work…!!!! thanx..!!!

  23. Robert Charles (May 13, 2010)

    Purchased a new Dell computer which has no serial port. Brought an adapter for my HP 4100 and connected the serial port to the 4100 and the USB to my new computer. Nothing happens when I try to print. I then hooked the USB back on my old Dell computer and still nothing happens. When I place the old serial cable from the printer to the old Dell computer, the printer works great. Any suggestions?

    • printertech (August 14, 2010)

      I’m guessing that Windows doesn’t recognize your usb to parallel cable. It may need drivers, or just not work completely. I’ve only worked with the cable I recommend on here since I’ve had no issues with it.

  24. Art (May 31, 2010)

    My HP LazerJet 4p was connected as described, still won’t work. Any help appreciated.

  25. Bruce Magruder (June 26, 2010)

    Hi, I have the same problem as Robert Charles May 13. I tried your fix & it didn’t work. I set up the virtual printer but no luck. Any suggestions?

  26. michael ohanesian (July 15, 2010)

    I have tried making the HP1100 a usb type and it did work. Then recently I had to restore the driver windows set. I reloaded the software as before (I have the directions written down) but it would not work. It still works parallel but not with the usb. I got working yesterday and then today I could not get it to respond. I do have the HP1100 driver (not HP1100 MS) as your instuctions state-could that be the issue? And if so where do I get the particular driver.

  27. Stevie Liu (August 14, 2010)

    Thanks for the info of installing an old HP Printer to a new Computer.
    I am having a HP Printer “LaserJet 4 Plus”. I connected it to my Computer “Compaq 6910p” through a Parallel Printer Cable “3AFO USB Universal Serial Bus”, but there is no audible sound can be heard & can’t find any new bubble dialog box “USB Printing Support” after I connected the USB port of the Parallel Printed Cable to the Computer & the D-connector edge to the Printer.
    The computer was went to “Choose a printer port” directly. Although I could add the printer “LaserJet 4 Plus” to the Computer, finally I can’t print any print-out. Did I make any mistake?
    I would be much appreciated if anyone can help.

    Thanks & best regards!
    Stevie Liu

    • printertech (August 14, 2010)

      I’m guessing your printer cable is the issue. Did you get the one I recommended on this post? That is the only one I’ve tested.

  28. Michel (August 21, 2010)

    Thanks for the info. I just saved a lot of money and my good old printer works…. Thans a lot… Without your help I was f……

  29. Rohit (September 10, 2010)

    HI i tried this method but i could not see my printer listed in the drop down menu. my printer is hp laser jet 3150 and os is windows 7 . i have the cable. but no luck. i dnt want to throw this printer as is still looks new . please help

    • printertech (September 10, 2010)

      If you unplug the usb to mini centronics cable and plug it back in, you should hear a sound. I have not tested Windows 7 with this solution, but it should work with no issues since others have got it to work. You can try looking in the control panels and removing all printers, then try connecting the cable again.

  30. Char Gray (September 24, 2010)

    Hi. I am trying to connect a laserjet 4 printer to my computer that only has a usb port. I have followed what was noted above, and also restarted windows, but my documents stays queued. Any suggestions on getting it to print? I have windows XP. thx!

    • printertech (September 24, 2010)

      You could try to remove the printer that was installed in your printers folder and then connect the cable back up to the computer and see if it uses the right port.

  31. Char Gray (September 26, 2010)

    Hi. I removed the printer that was installed in my printer folder. When I re-added it, it came up as LPT1 as the recommended. I have tried both that and the USB Virtual port and still get the result: 1 document in queue’. Ugh – this should be easy!

  32. betty drake (November 15, 2010)

    I’m trying to connect an HP 4Plus to a new HP computer running Windows 7. I’ve got the converter cable hooked up. When I plugged it into the computer, I got a “ding”. When I go to the “add printer” windows, I do not get a usb option from the drop-down list. I’ve got the drivers, but — HELP!!

    • printertech (November 15, 2010)

      I haven’t tested this using Windows 7 so I can’t say what you should do. I have heard that it does work, but the method to get it to work is different. Hope that helps.

  33. Cheryl (December 16, 2010)

    I’ve tried using a USB to parellel (standard) to an HP LJ 2300d. It worked for a day then wouldn’t. Reinstalled & worked for ~4 days, then wouldn’t. And now can’t get it to re-install. I used driver from HP for the specific printer. Any suggestions? Thanks.

  34. Richard (December 17, 2010)

    I was able to get the connection between my HP Laserjet 3 and my laptop via a centronics/USB cable working – i.e., when I clicked print, the light on the printer indicating that it was receiving data was blinking – but the document never printed.

    After fooling around with it for a while, I found that if I disconnected the cable, turned off the printer and the computer (or even just logged off), plugged the cable back in and then restarted the computer (or logged back in) and printer, it worked. However that means that I cant simply use the laptop, set up to print and then print; I have to restart first. This is less than satisfactory, since I don’t keep the laptop in the same room as the printer, and don’t always know in advance that I’m going to want/need to print a document.

    If anyone has any ideas, I’d be appreciative.

  35. nurik (December 20, 2010)

    Hello. Please help me. I have hp laserjet 1100 i cant get installation. If some one has a driver for (win XP) hp lj 1100 please send me by e-mail.

  36. KG (December 23, 2010)

    Thanks to your website for the assistance in getting my Laserjet 1100 working on my WinXP (SP3) machine! I don’t yet have a Vista or Windows7 computer, so my opinion observations are only for XP SP3.

    I used the original cable for my Laserjet 1100, but then used a DB25-F to USB adapter ($3.50 on EBay). I let WindowsXP do its “plug and PRAY” as I curiously awaited to see if my printer would work. XP added the “HP Laserjet 1100 (MS)” and added the “Virtual USB Port” automatically.

    That was 2 weeks ago and my Laserjet 1100 been working perfectly since then.

    One other note. I tried to alter the driver and manually choose the LaserJet 1100 (NOT the Laserjet 1100 MS) and the printer worked erratically or not at all. This could be the problem experienced by some of your users.

    Best wishes to all. And thanks again PrinterTech for your website!

  37. Bruce (January 19, 2011)

    Hi – I have a HP Color Laser Jet 4500. Will this set-up work with this printer? My Dell XPS only has USB ports.

  38. David (February 3, 2011)

    I have checked this post but can not find the recommended cable for usb to hp 1100 printer
    can I ask for the item and where it can be bought.

    • Printer Whisperer (February 16, 2011)

      I’ve provided links to amazon products that will do the job for you. They should be near the top of the article.

  39. ALK (February 20, 2011)

    First of all – THANK YOU for the advice on how to connect the 1100 to a USB-only port. I just got a new Windows 7 desktop, and the Best Buy people tried to convince me that even if I found a way to connect the printer (and they didn’t even have the right connector at their store) that Windows 7 wouldn’t have drivers. I purchased the 2 items you recommended; then, I plugged it in, and Windows 7 automatically installed it. So THANKS for recommending those products! However … I am having a problem, which may or may not be related to the printer itself. The printer doesn’t print web pages correctly (or sometimes at all). All other documents (e.g., Word docs) seem to print just fine. Any ideas? I tried updating the printer driver, but I already have an updated driver, so that was of no use.

    Thanks again!!

    • Printer Whisperer (February 20, 2011)

      What exactly does it look like? Does it do this on all web pages? I’d try a PDF printing program and see if you have different results (jus google Primo PDF). If they are different, it may be a Windows 7 thing, if they are the same, perhaps a different web browser is needed.

  40. ALK (February 24, 2011)

    It varies, but usually it just prints a few selected words from the page or sometimes just a few lines of garbled text. I tried printing a PDF both inside of IE and also outside of IE (with Adobe Reader), and those wouldn’t print either.

    The odd thing is, before I got this new Windows 7 desktop, I WAS able to print everything from my Windows 7 laptop through a wireless network with my old XP desktop. So far I haven’t figured out how to do file and printer sharing between the two Win7 computers, so that isn’t even an option. But I did try to connect the printer directly to my laptop, and I wasn’t able to print web pages that way either. So … I’m wondering if it’s a Win7 printer driver or setting problem (since the laptop could formerly print web pages, when it was connected through the XP computer’s network). Any insight would be great, but I understand that you probably have better things to do. 🙂 Thanks again!!

  41. Richard (March 13, 2011)


    I would like to connect a HP Laserjet 8150n to a new Dell inspiron 560. Could you please tell me the cable that i require to do this.


  42. riaz (March 16, 2011)

    i want to know that can i connect direct scanner with hp 4600 printer ?

  43. Dilip Shah (April 7, 2011)

    Very helpful indeed!

  44. Adele (April 12, 2011)

    I bought the cable and adapter to connect my old hp LaserJet 1100 to my ‘new’ computer running Vista. The printer is recognized and the driver installed but all print commands result in a queue but no printing. The adapter does not seem to clip in securely to the back of the printer. Is this my problem and do you think a replacement adapter is the answer?

    • Printer Whisperer (April 12, 2011)

      I have not tested Windows Vista but I have heard from others that it does work. You most likely have a driver issue which is causing the printer to not print as expected. I suggest removing the printer completely and reinstalling by plugging everything back in. As far as the clip, the adapter I tested should be fairly secure. Make sure it’s not connected upside down, it’s fairly easy to get it plugged in wrong. This may be related to why it’s not printing.

  45. Adele (April 12, 2011)

    Thanks for prompt and encouraging response. I have uninstalled and reinstalled the printer a number of times but the same thing happens: a printing queue! For some reason, it seems as if the message is not getting from the computer to the printer and I can’t discover why. I’ll try everything again, however. Many thanks again.

    • Printer Whisperer (April 12, 2011)

      The computer should actually install two drivers. One for the USB to Parallel cable and one for the printer itself. The USB driver is pretty seamless, but the printer driver can sometimes be difficult to install if the computer doesn’t recognize it properly. There are no drivers necessary for the mini-centronics to centronics connector, so if you do not see an HP 1100 printer installed in list of available printers, the adapter is likely faulty. If you do see the printer, but nothing prints to the printer, the computer recognizes the printer (since the drivers were installed), but is most likely trying to print to an incorrect port (although I can’t be 100% sure without testing myself). Without knowing all your specifics and being there, it’s very difficult to tell you what steps to take to correct the issue.

  46. Adele (April 14, 2011)

    Thanks again! I have ‘successfully’ installed the printer again but it’s not printing the test page from the PC. I am now in the process of requesting a replacement adapter. This comes to me in the UK from the US so may take a couple of weeks. I’ll let you know when and if I’m ever successful in connecting my LaserJet 1100. Thanks for your support.

  47. Affan (May 24, 2011)

    I did the same steps with HP LaserJet 6L. Why does it not support the USB?

    • Printer Whisperer (May 31, 2011)

      It should with a simple USB to parallel adapter. I’ve had good success with those printers.

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