How to use your StyleWriter in Mac OS X

by Christian Walther <>, 2002-2004 - page last changed on 2011-10-16

Introduction and Technical Background

As Apple doesn't support such legacy technology as serial printers in Mac OS X, getting my trusty old StyleWriter II to work required digging a bit deeper into Mac OS X' Unix foundation.

On Mac OS X 10.1.5, my experiments finally succeeded using a combination of the Unix Line Printer Daemon that comes with Mac OS X (but normally doesn't run), Ghostscript for converting a PostScript print job to a bitmap image, and Monroe Williams' "lpstyl" StyleWriter driver for Unix. StyleWriter Enabler is a nice mac-like installer program (written using AppleScript Studio) that will help you install and configure the necessary Unix software to take advantage of that method.

When Mac OS X 10.2 "Jaguar" came along, I had to develop a new method, as lpd, the Line Printer Daemon, is no longer present there. However, as Jaguar uses CUPS, the Common Unix Printing System, there is another, much simpler method:'s "Foomatic" system, which acts as an interface between CUPS, Ghostscript, and lpstyl. However, for not-so-Unix-savvy people, this can still be complicated to install and configure, so that I wrapped up that software into an installer package and wrote some small AppleScripts to do the configuration.

On Mac OS X 10.3 "Panther" and 10.4 "Tiger", including 10.4 on Intel Macs, this solution turned out to still work without modification. That's why the documentation inside the package wasn't updated either and only refers to 10.2. It also works on 10.5 "Leopard" and 10.6 "Snow Leopard", although the installer stops with an error (see the note below).

According to the lpstyl documentation, both methods should work for StyleWriter I, StyleWriter II, StyleWriter 1200, Color StyleWriter 1500, Color StyleWriter 2200, Color StyleWriter 2400, Color StyleWriter 2500. I have tested it myself with a StyleWriter II and have received reports of it working with Color StyleWriters 2400 and 2500.


Note for users of Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" and 10.6 "Snow Leopard"

On 10.5 and, as far as I'm told, 10.6, the current Foomatic for StyleWriter installer stops with an error message saying The following step failed: run postflight script for Foomatic for StyleWriter. However, the required components have already been installed at that point, and the step that failed is not necessary anymore on 10.5 and later, so the software still works. You can continue with the configuration (Choose Serial Port for StyleWriter and Add StyleWriter to Printer List scripts) normally, and the StyleWriter should work. If not, try restarting your Mac.

I may release an updated version that fixes the error (and brings some other things up to date) when I have time, but don't count on it. Supporting StyleWriters is very low on my priority list right now. If anybody else wants to take over, I'd be happy to assist.

The outdated version of Ghostscript available below may not work on 10.5 or later. You may want to try a more recent version. Version 8.64 from OpenPrinting has been reported to work, and the newer versions available there (8.71 at the time of writing) should work as well.

Foomatic for StyleWriter for Mac OS X 10.2 - 10.6

Download these two disk images and open the enclosed installer packages to use your StyleWriter on Mac OS X 10.2, 10.3, 10.4, 10.5, or 10.6.

   Foomatic for StyleWriter - 134 KB

This disk image includes lpstyl, all parts of foomatic necessary for using a StyleWriter, and documentation. It does not include Ghostscript, which is required as well. If you don't already have the Unix command line version of Ghostscript (if you don't know what I'm talking about, you probably don't), download and install the ESP Ghostscript package below. Any other Ghostscript package, like the ones installed by Fink or Gerben Wierda's i-Installer, should work as well.

   ESP Ghostscript 7.07.1 - 5.5 MB

This was, according to their Sourceforge project page, "an up-to-date GNU Ghostscript distribution including bug fixes, new drivers, and additional support for CUPS", but is outdated now. It was just mirrored here as a convenience and will not be kept up to date. Newer versions are available here, among other places.

StyleWriter Enabler for Mac OS X 10.1.5

This software will not work on Mac OS X 10.2 and later. It is kept here mainly out of historical interest.

   StyleWriter Enabler, fat version - 6.2 MB

This disk image includes everything you need, including a Ghostscript installer, an uninstaller and documentation. Use this if you don't care about having the latest Ghostscript version, and if you want to be able to install offline.

   StyleWriter Enabler, thin version - 1.2 MB

This disk image includes a "thin" version of the Ghostscript installer, which downloads the Ghostscript software at install time. Use this if you already have the Unix command line version of Ghostscript, or if you want to download the latest version of Ghostscript at install time. Note that this might not work anymore because it uses an outdated version of i-Installer.


lpstyl 0.9.9 © 1996-2000 by Monroe Williams, used with permission
Foomatic code and companion database by Grant Taylor, Till Kamppeter and contributors, licensed under the GNU General Public License
i-Installer © 2002 by Gerben Wierda, used with permission
Beta testing and dutch localization of StyleWriter Enabler by Oscar Laurens Schrover
Everything else by Christian Walther, public domain - do with it what you like as long as you don't claim it's your work.