9 Replies Latest reply: Apr 11, 2012 7:13 AM by Allan Jones
parkside19 Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

A friend's elderly eMac is still quite sprightly in most areas despite its age but printing, even a single page of B/W text, through his HP Photosmart All in One printer via USB, is excruciatingly slow. Any pointers?

eMac, Mac OS X (10.4.11)
  • Allan Jones Level 7 Level 7 (32,995 points)

    Has it always been slow or is this a recent change? The first eMAcs had only USB 1.1 ports which are pretty slow; later eMacs had USB 2.0 and are much faster. If you have access to the eMac, do "About this Mac" from the Apple menu and, in the resulting window, click "More Info..." The first page that appears will have a code--in OS 10.4 it is labeled "Machine Model"


    If "Machine Model" has the code "PowerMac4,4" the eMac has USB 1.1 and that could be a contributing factor if the problem is a long-standing one. If it's "PowerMac6,4" is has ISB 2.0 and should print fast.


    Another thing: Please get the printer's model name and number (ex. PhotoSmart 6280) and post it. There may be newer drivers or even an alternative way to connect it that might help.

  • parkside19 Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    My friend's had the eMac since new. It's only quite recently that the printing speed has slowed down so much as to be virtually useless. I'll be calling in to see my friend next week and will check out the relevant model numbers. In the meantime - thanks!

  • Allan Jones Level 7 Level 7 (32,995 points)

    It's only quite recently that the printing speed has slowed down so much as to be virtually useless


    That suggests that there is some process, likely in the background, that is slowing things, not a connection or hardware issue. Printers are basically slow, so most work fine even when connected to a USB 1.1 port of the older eMacs. USB 2.0 is a big help when to have to move a lot of data; examples: a) moving files to/from an external storage device like an external hard drive or a flash ("thumb") drive, or b) fetching pictures from a digital camera. However, it doesn't add a lot to print speed unless the printer is quite new.


    Ask if your friend has installed any anti-virus or internet security software recently. From a performance standpoint, hey are the computer equivalent of strapping a one ton weight to a car's bumper.


    There are ways to use Activity Monitor to see if there are any runaway background processes. However, checking that may mean you visit your friend and look in person to make sure the right data are showing.

  • parkside19 Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    Yes, on reflection, it had occured to me that a quick look at Activity Monitor might offer a clue, particularly as it's only the process of printing that's severely affected; most other tasks seem to run much as expected. I'll report back. Thanks again.

  • Allan Jones Level 7 Level 7 (32,995 points)

    Remember to set up Activity Monitor properly before checking. You may know this but a lot of people don't, so forgive me if this is "preaching to the choir":


    1) Don't check immediatlely after a restart. Some of the background culprits may not load unti after several programs have run. Doesn't hurt to check after the computer has been running several days.


    2) By default, AM is set to show only "My Processes" and can miss some of the suspects if so used. At the top of the Activity Monitor window is a "Show" option:


    ActMon settings example.png

    Change it to "All Processes" as in the example, then highlight the "%CPU" column header to bubble all the heavy hitters to the top.


    3) Once thus set. let AM run for a minute of two while you watch. Most processes cycle their usage and a screen shot or a two-second observation may not pick up a high-use process. That's why you may have to make a field trip.


    This just occurred to me: How full is this person's hard drive? Printers generate temp files---some quite large--- during the print process. If the hard drive is short of space, it takes longer for these files to be written to the hard drive as the system looks for space.


    Another thing: does your friend occasionally restart the computer? If not, lots of dreck can accumulate and eMacs can't hold much RAM. A restart clears an considerable amount of undergrowth--I try to restart our working Macs at least one a week.

  • parkside19 Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    Thanks for those AM tips. I know my friend doesn't restart that often but also know that, certainly until quite recently, less than half of the HD space was used.

  • BDAqua Level 10 Level 10 (120,605 points)

    Also open Console in Applications>Utilities, & watch for clues when trying to Print.

  • parkside19 Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    In the event the eMac was a PowerMac 6,4 so was USB 2.0. However, I had asked my friend to do one simple thing that I knew he could handle - restart it - and that apparently did the trick. As you mention, presumably a load of dreck had accumulated which had a severe effect on printing speed.

    Thanks anyway for all of the suggestions which I've filed away for thr next time!

  • Allan Jones Level 7 Level 7 (32,995 points)

    Excellent news. I love it when the low-tech solutions work!