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I've been seeing this since Leopard (10.5). If I erase my hard disk before installing a new version of OS X, the install the OS, then migrate all settings over from a cloned backup using Migration Assistant, everything is preserved except printers. Anyone else? To make matters worse, I just installed Mavericks (10.9.2) for the first time, and after the migration, not only were no printers preserved, but the OS did not automatically offer to download drivers for my HP 2015dn printer (either networked or via USB). I had to download the drivers (i.e. PPDs) manually.

Is this to be expected?

  • As a data point I've never seen these settings not transfer. Have you searched for printer in /var/log/install.log using the Console.app? It might be your subsystem just needs a reset? – bmike Feb 26 '14 at 21:05
  • Thanks. I just looked in /var/log/install.log, and there is stuff like this:Feb 25 17:21:15 localhost Setup Assistant[175]: (Nop) Copy /Volumes/Mountain Lion2/Library/Printers/PPD Plugins -> /var/folders/zz/zyxvpxvq6csfxvn_n0000000000000/Cleanup At Startup/SMSandboxTools-tmp/Library/Printers (PPD Plugins) "com.apple.print.custompresets.forprinter._10_0_1_4.plist", "com.apple.print.custompresets.forprinter.HP_CP2025dn_Color.plist", "com.apple.print.custompresets.forprinter.HP_LaserJet_P2015_Series__1CF8A5_.plist", "com.apple.print.custompresets.forprinter.HP_LaserJet_P2015dn.plist", – odysseus Feb 26 '14 at 22:45
  • But these files were absent from ~/Library/Preferences when I checked. But what does the (Nop) mean? Were the files not copied? – odysseus Feb 26 '14 at 22:48
  • Lastly, I tried the printing system reset, but there was literally nothing to reset -- it was a "virgin" system. – odysseus Feb 26 '14 at 22:49
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No, printers are usually transferred when you restore a backup using backup software such as Time Machine. As you haven't specified a backup software, I presume Time Machine, in which case the preferences should have been transferred. If you have used other backup software, make sure that the preferences have been backed up and restored correctly.

With regard to the drivers, these should have installed automatically too, unless restoring from backup restored the drivers too. Again it depends how you have backed up, but in conclusion, neither of these situations should have happened, but they're pretty minor and have been solved anyway.

  • I used a cloned backup -- not Time Machine -- and this was restore was presumably performed by the Migration Assistant, immediately after the installation completed. – odysseus Feb 26 '14 at 22:50
  • What I find very curious is why the automatic install of the printing software didn't occur. – odysseus Feb 26 '14 at 22:54
  • That is odd. Are those printers even included in the drivers Apple hosts these days? Perhaps there's a thinning in process. – bmike Feb 26 '14 at 23:01

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