Howto make your ordinary printer an (HP) Airprint printer

I wanted our brother laser printer to work on my wife’s iphone , it turns out it’s fairly easy to do.

First one needs to install CUPS,which is the only printer server that I use. It just works period.
Then I had to add the printer. I set it up using socket://ip address per the CUPS manual. It says there socket or otherwise known as the jetdirect protocol is the fastest way to connect one’s printer so try that first. For me it worked right out of the box.

Now,in order for the printer to appear on an Iphone or an Ipad,one just needs to check off that box that says “share this printer”. That’s it! Voila! Instant Airprinting! Take note though that one must be using the latest CUPS version so if its not working try updating.

Now, there are certain apps that I notice that asks for a specific brand of printer eg ,so when one tries to use print it doesn’t show on the list of available printer. I found a hack to make it work. It’s kinda trivial really. This is how you do it. Let’s say if I wanted my Brother to show up as an HP printer all I need to do is edit the ppd file for that printer. So go ahead and add a new printer and choose the same settings for the one you already have and just change the name and description. Now we have to find that ppd for that new printer we just added and edit that file to make it appear that its an HP printer. The PPD is really just a text file so just edit the manufacturer and model fields and it should work.

If it still doesn’t show,wait a few minutes. If not,restart CUPS and AVahi or your Iphone/Ipad.

Now if only I could print remotely,like through a VPN. . . .

19 Replies to “Howto make your ordinary printer an (HP) Airprint printer”

  1. I am trying to follow your instructions! 🙂 I have a brand new brother airprint capable printer, and want to use my ipad or ipod to print coupons from I cannot find the .ppd file for my brother printer to change it. I did what you said about CUPS, and I changed the name on CUPS for my printer to now be an “HP Photosmart” printer. That is not enough for Can you help me further?

  2. Hello! Truth, First of all thanks for reading my blog. Really appreciate it.
    With regards to your problem,you mentioned that your printer is already “Airprint ready”. If so, it would be fairly easy to setup because there would be no setup necessary ,it should just show up in your menu when you would try to print from your Ipad/ipod.

    Hope this helps..

  3. Hello! Yes, I can already print from the phone and iPad, but I cannot print from because they are picky and only want to use HP printers. I thought you said something about making your iPad think that my Brother printer is an HP printer. Is there a way to do that?

  4. Yep. I was able to do just that make our “Brother” look like an HP.
    What OS are you running on your computer? Are you on a Mac/Windows or linux?

  5. Ok. go to your browser and on the address bar. type in “localhost:631” without the quotes. Now it would probably say that the interface is disabled. So just follow the instructions on the screen.

    After you enabled it,go back to that address and add your printer as a regular brother printer. Then go find that ppd. .mine is at “/etc/cups/ppd” ,then edit it.

    That should do it.

  6. Thank you so much for all your help. If I’m a bother, just ignore me. I have a brother mfc J430W printer. I cannot for the life of me, on my computer, on google, or anywhere find a ppd file for this printer. What should I do????

    The only .ppd files on my computer are:

    Is there any other way you can think of to hack my brother printer to make think it is an HP? If not, I will live, but not happily. 🙂

  7. Thank you for taking pity on a non-techie couponer!!!

    Yes. I can get cups working. I have added the printer. I even now, finally downloaded something that got me a .deb file for my printer, and then I downloaded something else that allowed me to extract those files, and now I have a .ppd file for my printer!!!!

    I even just figured out how to open the .ppd file in text edit and make those changes. Thank you!


    When I go on my ipad to and try to print a coupon, it still says it finds no printer. 🙁 Am I missing something easy?

  8. Here’s an error I’m getting in CUPS under printers. The new printer I created is saying this as its status:

    Idle – “Filter “/usr/libexec/cups/filter/brother_lpdwrapper_mfcj430w” for printer “Brother_MFC-J430W” not available: No such file or directory”

    So maybe I don’t have the files in the right places?

  9. Hi! So what exactly did you install on your Mac? I don’t think you need to install anything on your Mac. Sorry,I might have left out that detail on my post,that post was for a linux server. Macs already have the Cups server built in.

    So just add that printer,you can use the browser or you can use the Printer Settings on the Mac Preferences. Be sure to click , Share this Printer. Then you still need to hunt for the PPD file of the printer and edit it to make it look like an HP.

    I probably gonna need to edit this post to make it clearer.

  10. Wow, every time you reply I am learning new things! I didn’t know Cups was already on my computer, so I deleted those downloads. I also learned how to find specific file folders by pressing CMD + Shift + G. That helped me find the PPD file that was ALREADY on my computer, but wouldn’t show up in a search, I think, because it was in the private folder.

    Anyways, I finally edited and saved that PPD file (after changing the allowances that would allow me to save changes under Finder, Get Info).

    Also, I got rid of that error in the CUPS status, because I now know the path.

    I know I’m getting closer to the solution, and I thank you for your patience.

    I have 2 problems now:

    1. When I choose that PPD file in CUPS (using localhost:631) when I am adding the new printer, it doesn’t seem to “stick.” If I go back to modify the printer, all the other settings stay the same as I originally chose them, but it asks me to choose a PPD file again. Is the PPD file sticking? Is there something magical about the name of the PPD file? If I use a file that has “copy” at the end of the original file, does that mess things up?

    2. Very strange (to me): When I use my iPad now, it only shows up a printer I named “HP Photosmart.” I had named a printer that a while back in all my creating new printers and then deleting them, etc. Right now in CUPS I have no printer with that name (because I deleted it yesterday)! I also don’t have a printer with that name on my computer’s Print & Fax settings. BUT, that printer works and prints just fine (from email) to my Brother printer.

    So, I don’t understand why my CUPS printers and my Print & Fax settings printers and my available iPad printers are not all the same. And, sadly, I still cannot print coupons. 🙁

  11. Oh, I see on CUPS that when I go to add a new printer, it gives me the choice of 2 network printers. One is the real Brother one, and the other is the same printer with the name I gave it of “HP Photosmart.” It does not show up under the Manage Printers tab. But this is the one that shows up on my iPad. Why does one show up on my iPad and not the other. Is there a way to modify the PPD file for this printer?

  12. Check to see if you have admin permissions. Also try to use the regular menu to add/delete printers,the ones on the Apple>System Preferences menu on the top right of your Mac.

    On our Mac ,the ppd files are stored at /etc/cups/ . Check yours if it’s there.The name of that file should be the name of the printer/printers that you already added.

  13. OK. I def have the admin permissions. I can find and edit the ppd files once they are created (after I add a new printer).

    My version of CUPS is 1.4.7. Do you think this is the problem? No matter what or where I add a printer (and share it), it will not show up on my iPad. The only printer that shows up is the actual AirPrint printer.

    If, on my Brother AirPrint printer, I turn off the AirPrint function, no printers show up on my iPad. So I think something is wrong with the way CUPS is communicating with my other devices.

    You said originally that if you don’t have the latest version of CUPS, it won’t work. Do you think this could be my problem? And if so, how would I update CUPS? My Mac OS X version is 10.6.8.

  14. Yes, I am set up there to share. I’m in the process of trying to download Mountain Lion to update my computer to the latest and greatest. Then I will see if I still have this problem. I did some reading online and it looks like CUPS doesn’t always share computers to AirPrint. There are super complicated fixes that I can’t understand, but I’m going to try getting the latest version of everything first.

    Thank you for all your help! I will let you know how it goes after I get Mountain Lion installed.

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