Connect a USB to Parallel LaserJet Printer Cable Using Windows 7

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Since many of the people visiting 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.

HP LaserJet Mini Centronics Connector IEEE-1284c

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.

108 Replies to “Connect a USB to Parallel LaserJet Printer Cable Using Windows 7”

  1. I got a cable with my new computer and hooked it up to my computer. Iit worked right away installing the drivers to my Laserjet 5. However it is so slow. I do PDF tax returns and 16 pages takes more than an hour. The exact same document from the old computer to the same printer takes a couple of minutes.

    1. Is it slow on all documents or just one that? It’s possible that a font is causing the issue or something in that document is causing the slowness. If everything is slow, try another port or LaserJet driver (like the LaserJet 4/4M).

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  6. I have finally replaced my 10 1/2 year old computer with a new machine that runs Windows 7 (64 bit), BUT not the 10+ year old HP Laserjet 1100a printer. I followed the procedure above but still can not get the printer to print a page. You mentioned a possible driver for a different model that may work? THANK YOU for all your help. I have bookmarked this page for reference. THANK YOU.

    1. You may need a different cable to get it to work properly. Does your new computer have a parallel port? If not, I’ve written a few articles here and here about that. Windows 7 has a built-in driver that should work for it just fine. It prints fine, but if you have the scanning attachment, the scanner works intermittently.

  7. Really informative articles.
    I too own an old Laserjet 1100 with several unused toner cartridges [hence a cheap way to print ‘non essential’ items]. Connected to be a brand new PC WITHOUT a parallel port.
    I have now gone down the cable adapter route to get the Laserjet working. HOWEVER, I was advised by a guy in a computer shop to fit a PCI card to give my new PC a parallel connection. I installed one, loaded the driver for the card and the correct driver [Windows 7/64 bit] for the Laserjet. Individually, all the items come up as ‘working’ correctly, but the Laserjet will not print. It works fine on old XP machine with a parallel port.
    I am curious, more than anything else, as to why with a parallel port fitted the printer will not work.
    As I said, read your article and went down the cable USB-parallel solution route.


    Theo S

    1. Theo,

      There’s real possibility that the folks at Microsoft/ didn’t put any effort into driver support on newer Windows versions for parallel port. The Laserjet 1100 is from late 90’s to early 2000’s. At this point they are probably assuming you will upgrade your printer or upgrade the cable to a USB to Parallel conversion and focus their driver efforts on that.

  8. I have a new Dell XPS desktop with Windows 7 (64-bit). My hp laser jet 4000 will still not run despite doing all your steps, including a parallel to usb cable (IEEE-1284 controller). It shows the printer with a green check mark, but i receive no test page. The same cable/printer works on my new dell laptop (also with Windows 7). Any advice/guidance would be greated appreciated.

  9. Got old HP LaserJet 4000 working with 64-bit Windows 7 laptop. Plugging the parallel-usb connection to the printer and then to the laptop didn’t work right away- plugging in over and over changing usb ports, finally the printer showed up & your troubleshoot directions could be used. BTW, thank you.

  10. I just upgrade from XP to Win7 and cannot get my Laserjet 6MP to work. I have a USB to parallel cable that worked fine in XP. Win7 only sees an unknown device. I tried installing the driver manually and it does not work. I also have a Deskjet 970Cxi that works fine. Do I need a different cable? BTY, I like your picture of Joseph.

  11. The cable recommended did work mostly. I can get a page to print once, then everything gets stuck in the printing queue? I do not know what to do next.

  12. After a reboot the OS found an HP 6P and that works fine even though I have a 6MP.It works and that is all that matters.

  13. I am trying to get an HP LaserJet 2100 to work on my new Gateway DX4870 computer with Windows 7. I have a USB to Parallel connector, there is a Generic IEEE-1284 driver installed, and I have downloaded and installed the printer drivers.
    The printer is the default in Control Panel and Word recognizes it, but when I try to print something, nothing happens and I get an “Error-Printing” message in the dialong box.

    Can anyone help me? Thanks

  14. I got the printer to work by uninstalling it, then shutting down and restarting the computer.

    It found the printer and previously installed drivers, and reinstalled them. Now it works.

  15. windows 7 can’t find the HP lasterjet 4000n. HP download site says it’s included but it’s not. troubleshooter didn’t help.

  16. I just got a windows 7 machine have older laser printers (Lexmark 4039-12R & IBM Info print 20 4320-001) do you know if the ptr drivers are available so that I can use a USB to Parallel printer cable with these printers. Also I ordered XP mode as part of the windows 7 load. Does this help?

  17. Windows 7, 64-bit operating system. Followed the instructions but had to turn the computer off and on again twice between steps. So after step 6 and again after step 14 I had to turn the computer off and on again. Now it’s kind a functioning, but still I often face problems (again, mostly solved by turning off and on again…)

  18. Hi,
    Maybe you can help me! I have an Epson TM-88III printer on a parallel port, which I am trying to connect to the USB on my Windows 7 laptop. The lead driver installed ok, and the Printer driver installed ok, but the two are not reconsigning each other as being connected. What can I do?

  19. I have an HP 9000 mfp printer and have tried everything to get the new windows 7 to recognize it..I have followed yours steps,but when i ask to detect problems it tells there are no problems….help!

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