Can I get my USB printer to work on the parallel port?

Note: This document is for getting a USB printer to work on a parallel port, not how to get a parallel port printer to work on USB.

The solution to this question is really dependent on the printer you purchased or plan on purchasing. Some printers have both a parallel port and USB connection, which allows the consumer to choose what connection they want to use. Many of these printers also allow users to have both the USB and Parallel connections connected at the same time. However, printers that do include both of these solutions only come with a USB cable, it is up to the user to purchase a parallel port cable.

Printer with USB and parallel connections

Parallel port

If your printer contains a parallel port connection, purchase a "parallel cable" from your local retail store or from the printer manufacturer. After connecting the printer to your computer using a parallel cable, you will need to change the properties of the printer to print to the "LPT" port. Microsoft Windows users can change this setting through the "Printers" icon in the Control Panel.

USB only printer with no more available USB ports

USB cable and portIf you have a USB printer and a computer that has USB but no more available USB connections, purchase a USB hub. USB is capable of supporting up to 127 different devices and a USB hub allows you to connect more USB devices to your computer.

USB only printer with no USB ports on computer

If your printer only has a USB option and your computer is an older computer with no USB option, we recommend you purchase a USB expansion card. These cards are installed in your computer and enable your computer to use all USB devices. However, make sure your computer meets the requirements of the expansion card, often older computers running older operating systems will not support USB at all.

Click here to search for USB expansion cards

You may also want to consider a USB to parallel converter, these converters will convert the USB signals into signals that can be understood by the parallel port. However, it's important to keep in mind that if your printer only supports USB, the printer's software will still not work. This solution should enable your printer to communicate with the computer, but in order to print you would have to install a generic parallel printer driver available through the operating system. This means many of the features of the printer will not work. We do not recommend this solution, but would like to make it known that it is available.

Click here to search for Parallel to USB cables

If your computer does not support a USB expansion card and you would like to get a USB printer to work, we suggest you consider purchasing a new or upgraded computer.

Additional information