Just Follow the Breadcrumbs

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I’m not the type to brag about my accomplishments, in fact, I usually write about myself in a somewhat self-deprecating manner. This makes what I’m about to say all the more unusual. Ready? Here goes:


I just fixed the printer. It took me several hours over the course of the day, in fits and starts between diaper changes and dinner dates, but I finally fixed the darn thing!

Now, I’m sure the last thing anybody wants to read is a play-by-play of how my mind works…but on the off chance I can spare others the aggravation I experienced, I’m going to share the breadcrumb trail I followed to Fix-it-Ville.

Here’s how it went down:

Our printer, an all-in-one from HP (specifically, the HP Photosmart C4780) hasn’t worked in months. I don’t recall when it stopped working, but it’s been basically out-of-commission since we moved into our current home a little over a year ago. We don’t usually do a lot of printing, so I had just dealt with it for awhile. But recently, I’ve been wanting to print out some sewing patterns online, some forms for the kids’ schools, and photos to hang in frames. Paying to print documents at FedExKinko’s when you own a perfectly good (at least, theoretically), functioning printer is galling.

The first thing I tried was to add a printer through the settings on my Mac, but the printer wasn’t listed. No big surprise there. It would have been magic, really, if I had seen it there. I tried doing a Software Update, but no software updates were detected, meaning the Mac didn’t detect that a new piece of hardware (i.e., my HP Photosmart printer) was wirelessly connected.  I decided to figure out if the printer was broadcasting a wireless signal. If it wasn’t, then that could be one reason that the Print & Scan settings on my Mac weren’t picking it up.

So I went to the printer’s UI display and pressed the buttons for Wireless Menu/Wireless Settings/Print Network Configuration Page.

This printed out a page that listed, as you would guess, the network information. At the top under “General Information” I noticed that beside “Network Status” it read “offline”. I found this curious because our network was up and running, and the printer itself was definitely sending out a wireless signal because the information page also listed our home network under the “Networks Discovered” section at the bottom of the page. So I wondered, “if our printer can detect our network, why can’t our network detect our printer?

When we moved we lost both the installation software for the printer, along with the USB cable necessary to get the wireless printer set up properly with our network. My previous computer was a PC, I now have a Macbook Pro, so I figured I could just go to the HP website to download the software for the Mac and install it and the printer would work. Well, that didn’t work. While I could download the software from HP, each time I tried to run the installer, I kept getting an error message that the software wouldn’t work with my version of the Mac OS. Crap, what now?

So I decided to do a Google search for “HP Photosmart c4780 installation mac no USB cable”, and see what I could find. Up came a forum post with the title “Is it possible to connect HP Photosmart C4780 Wireless Printer without USB cable?” The poster even has a Macbook Pro like me. I think I heard angels singing.

The responder gave two methods of fixing the situation: one involved trying to connect directly to the printer’s IP address through the browser, which I had already tried earlier without success. I just couldn’t remember or figure out the printer’s IP address. So, I kept reading for the other option. The other option involved trying to connect via the WPS function on the printer. Now, my many years as a technical writer have given me just enough knowledge to feel dangerous, but I still had no idea what the heck EWS and WPS meant, so I figured I would try something else.

I realized that I DID know how to access our wireless router settings through the browser, so I figured I could pull up the router settings and if it’s listing the printer as a connected device, that would tell me at least that it’s not a connectivity issue. I know that the printer can see the network, now I just need to know if the network can see the printer.

When I first review the router settings it does not have the printer listed as a connected device. I decide to upgrade the router’s firmware because an update is available. Why? I have no idea. I’m kind of kicking tires and pulling straws here, if there is a button to push, I’m going to push it and hope one of them fixes my problem.

After the firmware update, I look at the top of the router settings page and notice “Add WPS Client”  as an option. I remembered reading the forum post earlier where WPS was mentioned, so I pulled that post pack up in my browser. Under the second method listed, it says:

– Check to make sure that your router supports WPS. (I know it does, since it has an Add WPS Client option in the router settings.)

– On the printer, press Scan — Wireless Menu — WPS — Push Button. ( I do this, but nothing happens, so I try pushing WPS Pin, just below Push Button. A PIN number appears. I write it down on the network configuration page I printed out earlier.)

– Once the “Trying to Connect” displays on the printer screen, go and press the WPS button on your router (you have 2 minutes). (This didn’t make sense to me at first, but it will later.)

I go back to the router settings and click on Add WPS Client. It offers two methods for connecting and the Push Button method is automatically selected. There is an actual graphic that looks like a button on the screen, so I go ahead and click on it. I then remember the note in the forum about pushing the button on the printer as well, so I open up the Scan/Wireless Menu/WPS menu again and push the button.

TA-DA!!! The printer is now listed as a connected device! I go to my Print & Scan settings and add the printer and it’s listed! I am prompted to download and install the software I need to make it work. Yahoo!!

Am I qualified to work for the Geek Squad yet?



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