This one has been bugging me for quite a while. My office has a large number of multi-function printers and none of them have good support under macOS. It’s easy to print to them in black and white by treating them as generic HP PCL/PXL printers, but they refuse to work as color printers.

Snow Leopard supposedly has full support for the Savin printers, but it appears that support requires the Savin printers to have Postscript cards installed. That’s not the case at my office. If you try to use the Savin Postscript (PS) printer drivers you’ll end up printing page after page of Postscript gobbledygook.

On-line recommendations for other printers insist that the PCL XL generic printer driver will print in color. That doesn’t work for the Savin printers. The print dialog refuses to allow color as an option.

To solve this problem we need to venture into the Unix heritage of macOS. macOS uses the Unix CUPS printing system under the covers and hides it with pretty dialog boxes and System Preference pages. If you look around you’ll find PXL color drivers (PPD files) for the Savin printer drivers. Those drivers are for Linux (which also uses CUPS) and won’t directly work on macOS. If you install one, you’ll get a warning message from macOS telling you that required software is missing. macOS will suggest using Software Update to get the required software. That won’t work either. A little more spelunking around finally gave me the answer.

First, download and install Ghostscript from the Open Printing group. Ghostscript is an open source Postscript interpreter. It takes the Postscript page description code that Mac software generates when printing, and converts it for use by the printer-specific drivers. It’s an macOS package, so you’ll have to double-click on the mpkg file to install it.

Second, download and install foomatic-rip. This interfaces with Ghostscript to support the foomatic printer drivers. This is also a mpkg file that needs to be installed. You can’t print yet using these two applications, they provide the “missing software” that macOS complains about when you try to install the PPD printer drivers.

After these two items are installed you can make use of the foomatic printer drivers. The Savin color PXL drivers are available from openprinting.org. Unfortunately, they’re in Linux-specific RPM and DEB formats. I converted them to a zip file that you can download here. Unzip that file and it contains the PPD printer driver files.

If you want to get them directly from the source, instead of using the zip file, download the DEB file from here. From the command-line you’ll need to extract the files out of the DEB file:

ar xv openprinting-ppds-pxlcolor-savin_20090512-3lsb3.2_all.deb
tar -zxvf data.tar.gz
cd opt/OpenPrinting-Ricoh/ppds/Savin
gunzip *.gz

That will get you the PPD printer driver files for the Savin printers.

From here, it’s normal macOS printer installation. Go to the macOS System Preferences and click on Print & Fax. Click the ‘+’ icon to add a new printer. Choose the IP option and for the Protocol, choose HP Jetdirect - Socket. We make that choice because we’re treating the Savin printer like an HP PXL printer.

Enter the IP address of your Savin printer, and provide whatever Name and Location you like. Once you enter the address, macOS will most likely automatically choose the Savin C3535 PS printer. If you’re reading this, you already know that driver won’t work for you. Click on the Print Using drop-down and choose ‘Other..’. Use the file selector to find the PPD file for your particular printer, and open it. macOS will setup the printer and you can finally print in color!

  1. The primary reference for this information can be found here.
  2. The Savin PXL color driver page can be found here.
  3. The links were updated per a comment from Mark.

Updated 11/3/13: I’ve updated the links but I have heard that the printer dialog will hang trying to select the PPD. YMMV.