Previous 1 2 Next 25 Replies Latest reply: Dec 14, 2014 12:35 AM by kkfok
RobRR Level 1 (0 points)

I am the process of converting a database from an ancient PC based dinosaur to Filemaker Pro running on an Apple.


The one problem I keep coming up against is printing labels.  We print about 100-150 labels a week- with the cost of Dymo or Brother labels for their small thermal printers being 4x or more the cost of the old fan-fold tractor feed labels, it seemed obvious we should stick with an impact printer. Several companies still make impact printers. They are simple, bullet proof and inexpensive to run. (And though the cost of the  printer itself is 2x the cost of the little Dymo or Brother, the savings in labels makes up the difference quickly.)


HOWEVER, Epson doesn't support Apple's operating system. There is a generic "Epson 24-pin" print driver option in Snow Leopard, but the image quality of the labels is abysmal - and there doesn't seem to be any options to improve the print quality. A call to Epson tech support reveals that they don't support the Apple environment and suggested calling Apple. The other big player in the tiny 24-pin impact printer market is Okidata - but the research there looks to be about the same. (And there are a few other companies still making impact printers, like Panasonic, but I think the story is the same.)


Does anyone have any suggestions?


One of the ideas I have heard is to have another Apple machine running 10.4 or 10.5 and run my labels through that - that seems crazy to me. I know dot-matrix printers are dinosaurs, but, if you have to  printer more than 20 labels a day, they are MUCH more cost effective than anything else I am aware of.


I am open to suggestions.






- Rob Rinaldi

Several, Mac OS X (10.6.8), I work with several different model Apples
  • Asatoran Level 4 (2,525 points)

    Laser labels?


    I don't know what the quality is you're seeing with the Epson & Oki, but perhaps I'm too used to seeing laser and modern inkjet output so all the DMP output I see is comparatively lower quality.  I have to work with a Epson DFX-8500 on my work PC daily.  In single-pass mode, you will see the individual pins.  (Impact printer needed due to government multipart forms. )  Even my old Apple Imagewirter LQ, which is 24 pin, only gets "high quality" in multi-pass.


    What are the purpose of the labels?  If it's just for mailing, then is the quality good enough?  Mailings wouldn't need the greatest quality.  (And you won't see the labels again after they're mailed )


    If this is for file folders or something, you may need to either live with it, or see if you can send a code to enable multi-pass (or whatever your printer will do for higher quality.)  Perhaps you need to figure out something more creative like a formed character printer (a.k.a.: daisywheel, if they still exist and you can get ribbons, etc.) or find some vendor that has a specialized printer.  Or outsource this.  My office will send out some mailings to a local printing service because someone ran the numbers and found that it actually was cost effective when you include the labor on our end.


    I do sympathize.  My Imagewriter LQ is still hooked up by serial cable to a PC specifically to print envelopes and labels.  I still have half a case of labels and that is what I use for my side business because it's an obvious cost savings...and because I can.    Eventually, when I run out of Imagewriter LQ ribbons, I'll probably be switching to laser, but I'll cross that bridge when the time comes.

  • William Boyd, Jr. Level 6 (10,515 points)

    Check this Web site to see if they have a driver that supports your printer.

  • RobRR Level 1 (0 points)

    Also, I forgot to add - I have been trying another suggestion I read somewhere which was to set up the new Epson LQ-590 impact printer on a machine running 10.4 or 10.5 (and I do have a non-Intel Mini running 10.4.11) and then share the printer with the iMac (intel) running 10.6.8. The problem is I can't even find a driver to run under 10.4.11.


    Any suggestions would be helpful.

  • RobRR Level 1 (0 points)

    William, thanks for the link, but I don't see ANY of Epson's impact printers (none of the LQ series) listed. In fact, I don't see any impact printers there unless they are really old model numbers which I am not familiar with.

  • RobRR Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks for the reply.


    Laser labels wouldn't make sense for us. Some sessions there are 2, 3, 4 labels, at the next sitting it might be 30. We would really like to print using the tractor feed type labels we have been using for 20 years. They cost less .008 cents per label versus .04 cents per label and we could print 200 at a time, or 2.


    The amazing part to me is how hard it is to link an amazingly simple, (once) extremely common printer to an Apple.


    There must be some work arounds here.


    AND, more importantly, I can't believe that Apple doesn't have some basic/generic 24 pin driver that will give some basic functionality. At one time, the LQ-300 was a STANDARD driver and other manufacturers made emulation software based on that model.


    I am close to ready to just give up, send the Epson printer back and figure something else out.


    So, is there ANY narrow carriage 24-pin impact printer that actually has a driver to talk to 10.4.11 or better yet, 10.6.8???


    Apple, are you listening?

  • Peggy Lynn Level 4 (2,470 points)

    Macworld has an article on how to print to dot matrix printers from Snow Leopard that might be of some use.

  • RobRR Level 1 (0 points)

    Macworld has an article on how to print to dot matrix printers from Snow Leopard that might be of some use.



    I did see this post and did try downloading print drivers from Apple - but it didn't seem to make any difference and, more importantly, I didn't see any additional model Epson printer show up.


    However, I did not restart the machine and I will try that. But, in the past when I have added print drivers I have not needed to restart. I will give it a try.


    I would like to talk to the person that made this post.


    I could print to the Epson LQ-590 I have, but the quality is that of a 9 pin - almost hard to read.

  • greg sahli Level 7 (25,305 points)

    I think you should try the resources of They have some Epson LQ-xxx drivers there, and they have a mailing list support area with very knowledgable people.

  • Matt Broughton Level 5 (4,980 points)

    There has been mixed success in using dot matrix printers in any version of OS X.  The one thing I do not see in your original post is the make and model you are trying to use.  It seems like you already have a printer and are trying to get it to work satisfactorily.  If you let us know what printer you have, we might be able to give you a more specific answer.


    You might want to try a Google search for "dot matrix printers".  The does have some drivers for various dot matrix printers.  The drivers are generally built in to Ghostscript.

  • RobRR Level 1 (0 points)

    I have an Epson LQ-590 hooked up to an older (Intel) iMac running 10.6.


    I did try hooking up the printer to an older (non-Intel) Mac Mini running 10.4.11 but there still is no drivers available either through Epson or Apple. So, it would see regardless of the Apple OS, I need to follow up some of these other leads that are coming in on this thread.


    What I am hoping for is someone who has found a driver that really works with this printer.


    And, still, I am stunned that Apple itself hasn't come up with a solution that covers the LQ line of impact printers.


    I know Apple has gone down lots of roads in education, entertainment, graphic design, photography, etc - but it still feels like the business user is left out to dry.


    I do all my other work on a Mac, my ONLY remaining PC is the ancient dos machine running this ancient flatfile database program. I was thrilled to find someone to help me over it over to Filemaker Pro - now I just need to find a way of hooking up a simple impact printer!!!!

  • Matt Broughton Level 5 (4,980 points)

    Thanks.  Having the make and model number does help in sorting out your options.


    When you tried the Epson 24 pin driver that comes with the printing system, did you try the various dpi settings under Printer Features in the print window?  The default is set for 120x60dpi, but the driver allows up to 360x360dpi.


    The other altermative that would seem to fit the bill would be for you to try a driver from  To use that driver, download and insstall Foomatic-RIP and Ghostscript from ic


    You will then need a PPD.  The manual for your 590 indicates that the LQ-2550 is compatible (see the section of the manual dealing with choosing a driver for DOS programs).  You can get a PPD for this model at show=1.  You can save the file to your Desktop or somewhere else and add the .ppd extension.  For this PPD to work properly on a Mac, you need to delete the line

    *cupsFilter:     "application/vnd.cups-pdf 0 foomatic-rip"

    and save the file.


    As for some of the other suggestions that were offered here.  The Gutenprint/Gimp-Print drivers will not work for you.  They only support laser, inkjet, and some dye-sub printers.  I took a look at the LQ-300 model driver from as that was mentioned as a possible source for drivers.  It uses the same driver that is already on your system.  That is, it uses the rastertoepson filter from CUPS.  As far as I can tell, the PPD for the LQ-300 only differs from the generic driver in some of the media sizes offered. 


    There is no need to use a computer that runs a lower version of OS X.  The only case where that might be a solution is if Epson offered a driver for Mac OS X 10.4.x or some such that would not work in OS X 10.6.x.

  • RobRR Level 1 (0 points)

    Matt - your replies are great. I really appreciate you ruling out all the options that have been discussed and that seem logical. It allows me to try and focus in on the things that might really work.


    I didn't know there were any options under "Printer Features" and I was able to change to the 180dpi setting and the text looks MUCH better - still not as good as my nearly 15 year old Epson LQ-870 which is hooked up to an old PC - but acceptable. I could consider this solution solved, at least for the moment. I will keep the printer for sure now. (just as a note of interest, when I pick the highest resolution, the printer sets off its alarm and nothing happens, some software conflict I assume.)


    I do wonder if the other option you gave me (using an OpenPrinting driver) might offer more options? For instance, the way this printer is working now, it only is printing in one direction and I know it is a bidirectional printer. Also, though the text is MUCH better looking - what I think it is doing is printing in a low-res draft format and then double striking over the type to make it more filled in. (The old printer had several options, via software, from several high-speed draft printing modes to slower, but better looking letter quality options)


    Do you think the OpenPrinter driver might offer more options?


    Again, you have solved the problem for me and for the moment, I am going to focus on other tasks associated with moving to Filemaker Pro - I really appreciate your input and effort here.


    - Rob

  • Matt Broughton Level 5 (4,980 points)

    RobRR wrote:


    (just as a note of interest, when I pick the highest resolution, the printer sets off its alarm and nothing happens, some software conflict I assume.)


    It could be that your printer doesn't support 360x360dpi.  I will have to confess that I don't really understand the dpi settings for dot matrix printers.  I see no reference to such in the manual.  It's all about characters per inch (pitch).


    I do wonder if the other option you gave me (using an OpenPrinting driver) might offer more options? For instance, the way this printer is working now, it only is printing in one direction and I know it is a bidirectional printer.


    The driver from does offer more choices for dpi settings but they don't go as high as 360dpi.



    I doubt that the OpenPrinting driver will provide bi-directional printing.  Third party drivers that are written for many printers tend to be fairly generic in what they offer.  I do think it is worth trying the OpenPrinting driver. It is a driver written by a different developer.  It might therefore be better or worse that the driver from the CUPS developers.  It wouldn't take that long to install the software and give it a try.  Both the Foomatic-RIP and Ghostscript packages come with uninstallers, so you can easily back out of that effort if it doesn't work.

  • doivey Level 1 (0 points)



    I doubt that you're still following this post, but I'll ask anyway. Did you explore the OpenPrinting drivers?

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