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20th January
2009

Does the output from your Epson R800, R1800, R900, R1900 look faint? Are you printing from Mac OS but hosting the printer from Windows? Here’s the fix.

written by Mark Wheadon

[ I guess this will also be true of other Epson inkjet printers such as the newer R900 and R1900 —Mark ]

I have an Epson R1800 (the A3 variant of the R800) plugged into a PC running Windows and shared on the home network.

The other day I set up my MacBook Pro to print to that printer share and all was well until I collected the output — it was really faint, we’re talking about something like 50% opacity — only half there!

To cut a long story short: if you want top-quality output, with full control over the gloss etc. then you’re going to have to plug the printer into your Mac, but you can get close with the printer hosted on a Windows machine. The answer to the faint-print problem is that you need a newer version of the Gutenprint drivers for Mac OS X. The old versions supplied with Mac OS leopard are seriously broken (although they do save on ink :-).

Why do you need the Gutenprint driver? Because when you print from Mac OS to a Windows-hosted printer, Windows expects the print-fodder to be generated by the client machine (so you can’t use the Windows box’s driver), and Epson’s driver for the Mac only knows how to drive the printer directly — and not via CUPS (the system you’re using when you send a print job from Mac OS X to a Windows-hosted printer).

So I now have two queues on my MacBook Pro. One for printing via CUPS (with the latest gutenprint driver) for casual output, and one for printing directly via USB.

For full-quality printing I print to the direct queue, and then walk upstairs and plug it into the printer. Not ideal, but it’ll do.

If you have the printer hosted on a Windows box and a Mac nearby that also needs access to the printer, then I can’t see why you couldn’t plug it onto the Windows box using (say) USB, and into the Mac via its firewire interface. That should do the trick.

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