Epson printers and Lion (and Leopard and Snow Leopard).

Lumix GF1 with G Vario 45-200 OIS Lens at 124mm 1/50th at f/8, ISO 200 No clue what this flower is, but I like the softness of the petals. I assume they haven’t opened yet so they typically look different. Taken at Iao State Park on Maui.

This is an old problem that is surfacing to sting a few using Epson printers and Macs.  If you upgraded to Leopard and Snow Leopard, Lion shouldn’t present any problems at all, however, if you just decide to upgrade to Lion you might be having issues which most worked through some time ago.

When Snow Leopard was introduced, it was getting blamed for every Epson printing problem, even though incorrect installations or improper workflows are a continual issue.  Some users were moving from Tiger to Snow Leopard, so their problems might be related to the changes made in Leopard, which most have resolved. Those now moving from Tiger or perhaps Leopard to Lion may now get bitten by the same little issues.  I guess one of the reasons it is a problem is you normally have to install Snow Leopard to be able to install Lion (at least that’s the simplest way).

At the time what seemed odd were there are so many users not having problems (the majority).  I had no problems printing to a 3800, 7900, and 11880 with Snow Leopard.  I just inserted the Snow Leopard installer disk, did a standard install, and everything continued to work fine.  Frustrated users are trying all kinds of things, but there doesn’t seem to be much commonality – why does it not work for everyone?

Since this original article was published, I had several readers contact me and say this was the only thing the fixed their problems.  Just today I received this email …

I had printer problems switching up from Tiger to Snow Leopard.  I have an Epson r2400 and a Mac Pro 1.1.  I was getting prints light and magenta relative to the screen.  I followed your instructions to “clean” Snow Leopard and reinstall the newest Epson driver. Considering that I tried 5 other solutions that did not work I thought that I should write you and tell you that yours did. Thank you,   Fred.

So what follows is a reprint of my original article, with some updates because thanks to Epson the process is easier now.

The one thing I’ve picked up on from various threads might be related to how “clean” the OS X  system is.  It appears users that have upgraded without fresh installs from previous versions of OS X are having more problems, especially if they also have printer drivers related to older Epson printers.   This actually makes some sense, from the perspective of ColorSync.  If you open the ColorSync Utility on a Mac, you normally find tons of extra “stuff” laying around.  It seems the OS and ColorSync never forgets anything you’ve done, so stuff from printers past still lurk in your system.  As an example, here are some screen shots from my MacPro tower in the ColorSync utility.


I have only 2 printers connected to this computer, a 3800 and an 11880. As you can see, pretty much every Epson Printer I’ve ever owned shows up in this box … even my 9600 and 2200 which have been gone for many years.   This leaves the question of how to clear this up.

At this point, I strongly recommend to everyone upgrading to Snow Leopard to “clean up” their Mac printing system.  To do this I recommend the following steps.

Download the most recent driver for your printer from the Epson site.  While there also download the application Uninstall Center.  If you don’t see it in the list of software when downloading your driver, you can get it by going to the download section for the 4880.  (Uninstall Printer is not specific to any model of printer, and most of the printer download lists show it.)

Uninstall the Epson drivers by running the Uninstall Center Program.

Restart your Macintosh.  After it finishes booting up, empty the trash.

I recommend you launch Disk Utility at this point, and do a repair permissions on your hard drive. This step is optional.

Reset the Mac printing system.  This is perhaps the most important step.  To do this, open the Printer and Fax Preference Pane.  Right click (control click) in the printer list, and select Reset printing system.



This will remove all printers from your system and remove all registered printer devices from ColorSync.  One downside, all custom saved setups as well as saved paper sizes in your printer dialogs will be deleted.

Your printing system is now basically at the same level as a clean install of the OS.  If you launch the ColorSync Utility you should see no printer devices in the list … this is a good step to verify the preceding steps have worked.

At this point you should be ready to reinstall the driver you downloaded earlier, and then add your printer in the Printer and Fax preference pane. When adding the printer, clicking on the + will show a popup of printers the computer can see, and your printer may appear in the list.  I recommend you do not choose it there, but instead select “Add Printer or scanner”, and choose it in the next window.

Don't select the printer from this pop up, but choose Add Printer and
select it in the next window.


If your printer is hooked up via a network, you might have better luck using the tcp/ip version rather than the bonjour.  The bonjour choice will probably show up first, just wait and you’ll see the other choice in the list.

This may or may not help you with your printing challenges. I know it has worked for some.  Drop me an email if it does or doesn’t work for you, including your printer model.


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One Response to “Epson printers and Lion (and Leopard and Snow Leopard).”

  1. Hi

    I upgraded to a new late 2013 imac with 10.9 os and suddenly my epson 9900 was doing crazy things, spooling out 2 feet of paper before it started printing and shrinking print sizes way smaller than they were set for. I followed your procedure and now the 9900 works logically and predictably again, thank you! BTW, lots of permission repairs were made while fixing the disk permissions. Dont skip that step!

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