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Installing drivers (PC/Mac) ¶ 

For Windows, you have the most driver options to work with on this printer. You will have the following options with Windows:

For Windows drivers, you have the following options:

  • Download the no Installer CD. This is similar to the CD that shipped with the printer. If you want to install the printer manually with .inf files and omit the programs, this is what you will need.
  • The second option is the Full Installer CD. It wraps everything under a .exe and doesn't separate it like the No Installer option. It's good for install simplicity, but not if you want to install the printer without the utilities and just want the base driver.
  • The PCL6 HP UPD also works with this printer. This doesn't install the M401n specific utilities, but it works fine. The M401 driver is based on this UPD anyway, so you can cut the bloatware out of the question with this driver. The only special part of the M401 specific driver is the utilities.

For Mac owners, the author recommends the following:

  • You are better off with the Apple driver for Mac installation. Apple will have this and you get the utilities anyway.
  • HP Easy Start. You will need to use this for 10.11 and any future versions of Mac OS X if you want to use HP drivers with the printer.
  • If you have Mac OS X 10.5-10.10 there are various versions of the Full Installer driver package. The version will vary based on how old your version of OS X is. It will be older for retired versions of OS X but newer versions may still be updated, even if they are out of support.

These options are NOT RECOMMENDED

  • HP Smart Install. Smart Install was plagued with problems and abandoned by HP years ago.
  • Driver CD. The majority of CD's are older then the latest version of the driver you will find online. Get the driver from HP's website.

Linux Drivers ¶ 

For Linux, you can either use a Generic PCL6 or PCL5/5e drive or use HPLIP.

Most Linux distros include the HPLIP drivers as part of their software packages. Some don't, but you can get it from this page if you need to install it, or update the version your distro came with.

The HPLIP driver is suggested for most users. This driver will work the best since it it written by HP.

Toner ¶ 

This printer ships with an 80A toner cartridge which gets ~2,600 pages. Once the 80A runs out, it is not advised to re-purchase the 80A due to a poor real world yield. The HP 80X gets ~6,900 pages and has a more accurate real world yield as well.

You should also set the printer to Continue or Prompt before the toner runs out. You do not have to do this with a full toner but it's better to set this up before it runs out so you don't have to do it later. Continue will remind you it needs toner and keep going, while prompt will remind you and let you cancel the job or print it. The choice on the mode you use is up to you, based on what access you have to the printer.

HP 80X (recommended)

HP 80A (Okay if you are on a budget, but the real life yield is not the best)

Toner Life Optimization ¶ 

Note: Some tweaks in this section are geared towards helping the HP 80A lifespan issues. This is not required for printers that have a 80X toner installed, with the exception of resolution, print density and Override out. Less paper curl is optional.

Override out (HP 80A and 80X): Configure the printer to prompt before it continues to print, or set up to print without intervention once the chip says it is out of toner. Doing this allows you to replace the toner when it is truly out of toner rather then what the chip is reporting. In a lot of cases, the toner is good for a few hundred extra pages when it is out of toner before it starts to truly run out or have problems. To set this up, here's how you do it: System Setup/Supply Settings/Black cartridge/Very Low Setting/Continue or Prompt

Low threshold (HP 80A only): Set the printer to prompt you to replace the toner at 8%, according to the chip readings. The printer comes set at 15% from the factory. You do not have to do this, but this will make sure the 80A the printer came with is truly low or empty when you replace it. This will hurt the amount of pages you get in Override Out mode, so if you want the most pages in override out do not do this. To set this up, here's how: System Setup/Supply Settings/Black cartridge/Low Threshold/8 (1-100)

Resolution (Recommended on the HP 80A toner, but can be used on the 80X): The printer comes set to ProRes 1200 from the factory. Change this to 600dpi since you do not need 1200dpi in a Mono Laser. You will also want to disable ReT.

If this is done from the printer itself, the computers will also need to be set to 600dpi or it will run at 1200dpi, even with it set on the printer. If this is done from the driver you need to make sure that every computer is set to 600dpi with these changes, or it will print at 1200dpi.

It does not matter if you do it from the printer or driver, since it will print at 600dpi either way. Some people may wish to leave the resolution on the printer alone, while others will want to do it directly on the printer to make sure the setting sticks.

Print Density (Recommended on the HP 80A, but can be used on the 80X): By default, this is set to 3. Set it to 2. This will have a small effect on the print quality, but it will be hard to notice. To do this: Settings/System Setup/Print Density/2

Less Paper Curl (Optional): Set the printer to reduce paper curl. This is disabled by default. Along with reducing paper curl, it also reduces the fuser temperature. To set this up: Settings/Services/Less Paper Curl/On

HP Smart Install ¶ 

Note: This feature was removed in a later firmware update. If you want to retain the feature do not update the printer's firmware.

HP Smart Install is abandoned and is no longer supported. The main reason for this is how the drivers in the printer had to be updated. In order to update the driver stored in the printer, the firmware had to be updated. The problem with this is HP rarely updates the firmware for their printers, so it was never up to date. This was an issue, since the files were read-only and HP did not provide other means to update the files stored in the printer. On top of this, the version in some printers is so old, it doesn't even check for updates successfully and comes up as up to date, when it is not.

My recommendation is to remove Smart Install altogether. You can do this by updating the printer's firmware to the newest version, which does not include it. This is highly recommended in a Linux environment as well.

If you wish to keep it, do not update the firmware unless you absolutely have to do so.

HP Smart Install and Linux ¶ 

HP Smart Install caused a lot of issues in Linux when it was released. The most common problem was how the printer would show up as USB mass storage instead of a printer, which caused installation problems. The only fix to this problem is to disable HP Smart Install.

This became less of a problem over time, but it still has to be disabled in some cases. It is also recommended you turn this feature off if you use Linux to be safe and avoid these problems altogether.

This may not be a problem with network installation, but if you were installing the printer locally this is known to happen. It may still be a good idea to disable it anyway.

HP implemented the feature, implying the user is not using Linux. This did not happen in Mac environments, since it was smart enough to detect it as a printer. This is why Linux confused the printer for USB mass storage.

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