Scanning to a Mac from an HP All in One Printer

I have found most things to be easier to accomplish on a Mac vs PC. But one thing that I had a very hard time with was scanning to a Mac from an HP all in one printer.

I don’t remember exactly what I did when I got my first HP printer but I am now on my third one – and my applications folder contains an Hewlett Packard folder that has a slew of various programs and device managers and I don’t know what else. It’s kind of scary how many things are in there – none of which I use, BTW. And I dislike how HP has taken the liberty of installing these programs on my computer.

Now even though my printers are all in one’s – I rarely use the flatbed scanner. Instead I rely heavily on my ScanSnap 300M for quick scans of documents – but that is an entirely different post. So, when I do need to use the flatbed – I routinely forget how the heck I got the thing to work the last time.

You see – in the bulky Hewlett Packard folder (the one that has moved into my Applications folder like an unwanted houseguest) – there lives two programs that look promising. There is something called HP Device and HP Scan I figured one of these should do the job. But in fact – NEITHER ONE OF THESE WORK.

To be fair – I have not run an HP software update in quite some time – because last time I did this, my computer would not connect to the printer for anything. The hours I spent trying to get everything to talk nicely to each other were quite painful. So call me once bitten twice shy – but I will not be running an update until I have no other options.

The way I got the scanner to work was actually quite simple. It is a program that is included on all Apple Mac computers. An often neglected and lonely program called Image Capture. From what I understand – this little guy has been around a long time and has been outshined by all the other awesome programs that Apple offers. But Image Capture is a powerhouse and it might be old but it is not forgotten.

This is how I use it for scanning to a Mac from an HP all in one printer:

First, go to your applications folder and open Image Capture

Find Image Capture

Now open Image Capture. You will see your devices and any shared devices in the column on the right hand side. In my case, my printer is shared on my network – but if your printer is connected directly to your computer via USB then it will show under the list of devices not under the shared title. (click the picture to enlarge – it will be easier to read)

Open Image Capture

Now click on your printer. You will get a message that says “Trying to open scanner session…” After a second or two it the message will change to “No paper loaded…” (if you have a document feeder on your printer). If you don’t have a document feeder – I imagine that you can skip this step – but I have not been able to test that. This message flashes up because it seems that the default scan mode is the document feeder. You will need to change this selection to flatbed. (click the picture to enlarge – it will be easier to read)

When you change the selection to flatbed the program will tell you that the scanner is warming up. Then it will do an overview scan. This overview scan is not the actual final scan. What the program is doing is giving you sort of a preview of what the scan will look like. The dotted line with gray dots around the perimeter is the outer edge of the scan. To manually change the part of the paper that is being scanned just drag one of the gray dots to adjust. At this point you can adjust the resolution, size, file name of the document, what folder you want the scan to land in, and the format of the scan.

Currently, I am scanning some recipes on my Mac – so I have set this screen up to save the scan into my recipes folder. (click the picture to enlarge – it will be easier to read)

If I am happy with all of the settings then I hit the scan button and the finished scan will land in the folder that I have specified. If I want to scan another page – I just need to click the up arrow next to my printer in the right column and a new session will begin. (click the picture to enlarge – it will be easier to read)

Scanning to Mac from HPI know that some of the images are small – but just click each one to see a bigger image (and then you won’t have to squint.)

I hope this has been helpful for you – it sure took me a while to put it together!

And for those of you who prefer to watch – instead of read, here is the mac video tutorial for your viewing pleasure:


Find some other great Mac Tutorials here.

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  1. Your info on scanning by using IMAGE CAPTURE worked fine on my Mac. Thanks very much


  3. sheera von says:

    Any idea why image capture won’t recognize my deskjet F4280? I can print documents using other software, but it won’t scan for some reason. It says “image capture device not connected.” Thanks.

  4. BJ Foley says:

    Thank you very much for this advice. Its one of the few times i googled something, found an answer, tried it and it worked on the first try. Great step by step help. keep up the good work

  5. Hi question, I have an HP photosmart all in one printer. I am am able to print and scan but my issue is that the scan isn’t clear enough to read. It’s a document and it is truly too light to read, I have tried a few things to try and change it but nothing seems to work. Is there anything that you can recommend in reference to scanning documents? Thank you.

    • You could try adjusting the resolution to a higher dpi. On some models you may have an exposure adjustment – increasing this would also make the resolution better.

  6. Thank you! I was trying to scan from the printer itself and only getting a partial image. This worked!

  7. Thank you so much! This tutorial really helped me!

  8. I really enjoyed looking at all the posts. Image Capture nor Preview show my shared HP L7700 all-in-one scanner as an option. Last week I decided to download the HP scan driver and it totally screwed up my Photoshop program. Took 5-days to get off all the HP scan software pieces, run and rerun the Adobe cleaner, fix the permissions on my hard drive, uninstall and reinstall Photoshop. ULTIMATELY, had to restore Photoshop from a previous backup and still cannot use image capture or preview to scan. Have to use webscan to scan anything. UGH!

  9. Thankyou so so much for this advice on how to scan!! Was stressing my head off trying to figure it out and you saved my day! Thanks heaps :)

  10. HP Support Forum “Mac Printing And Scanning”

    I have been searching up a lot of answers on the above site… but none that help. I was excited about the image capture option you showed, but my computer doesn’t recognize my printer on the image capture window. (HP Photosmart C6180 all-in-one, Mac OS10.6.8 Snow Leopard)

    Today (11/3/11) I checked my Software Update and downloaded the HP update (HP drivers and they seem to have messed up the update and the printer’s scan ability.) The printer will print but won’t scan to the computer.

    One of the “answers” I found on the HP Forum site mentioned something about USB ports not working?

    I think I will wait on trying to fix this scan problem until I update to Lion and then if there is still a problem I will try to fix it then.

    Thank you for posting all your very helpful advice!

  11. Irene Nelson says:

    I have the HP All In One Printer; it is hooked up to my iMac and I am able to print but I am having a really hard time scanning to it. I looked you up on YouTube and found this tutorial about Image Capture which just got me all excited and I started to follow the directions. I open Image Capture; I am on a USB cable and it does not recognize/acknowledge the printer.
    What do I do next?
    Thank you for any input; it would really be appreciated.
    Irene Nelson

  12. Christian Johnston says:

    Thank you again for these recommendations. I have downloaded the latest drivers from the Apple site. Twice actually. And I did notice, too, that the scanner drivers haven’t been updated yet for Lion. I might just have to wait. I’ll continue to do Software Updates, and I hope that will eventually do the trick. Thanks again!

  13. Christian Johnston says:

    Before I begin, I just want to say thank you for your help with this issue.

    I did try running HP Setup Assistant, but I originally ran it AFTER setting up my printer through Print & Scan under System Preference. So as you suggested, I deleted my HP printer from System Preferences first, then ran HP Setup Assistant. (NOTE: I was only able to set up my HP printer using the USB connection – it wouldn’t let me connect and set up the printer through the network.) Since I set up the printer with my USB cord, I kept it connected while trying to scan with Preview, Image Capture, Print & Scan, and even HP Director. Unfortunately, my scanner still wouldn’t work with any of these application. (My HP printer still doesn’t appear in the list of devices for these applications.)

    BUT, I noticed that it did fix something. Previously when I pressed the “scan to” button on the HP printer, I got an error message on the printer’s LCD screen, saying something like “Not set up on PC.” But now, when I press “scan to,” I see that I have three options on the HP printer’s LCD screen: 1) Scan to Fax, 2) Scan to Email and 3) Scan to Scan. But when I choose any of those options and press the “start scan” button on the printer, I get an error message on the printer’s LCD screen after a few seconds saying, “Scanning error, cannot connect.”

    Also, I received your other recommendation by email to try to find what my printer’s IP address was, and then enter that IP address in the “Location” field under the “General” section of the Options & Supplies area of Print & Scan (under System Preferences). When I went to Printer Preferences (you were referring to Print & Scan under System Preferences, right?) and clicked on Options & Supplies for my HP printer, there’s nothing in that section (at least on my computer) where I can go to “utility,” and then open “printer utility” – where you said my IP address should be located.

    If you have any other thoughts after reading this info, please let me know. I appreciate your help!!

    • Christian,

      You are very welcome – I am happy to help.

      I have two more suggestions but I fear we have come to the end of the road.

      The first is this support article from Apple: – it is a list of printers whose drivers have been updated for OS Lion by the manufacturer. Your printer is on the list, but it only has a P in the first column – no S for Scan in the second column. It seems that HP has not updated the scan drivers for Lion yet (Aug 3 is the date of the list) – but it might be a good idea to run Software Update often as it seems that driver updates are coming available frequently.

      The second link I have for you is this: which seems to have a download link for the latest drivers.

      If you do download updated drivers and it still doesn’t work – I would again try deleting then reinstalling the printer.

      Maybe the solution is just to wait a week or so to see if HP issues an update. Keep me updated with your progress.

      And if you found this info helpful – I would appreciate if you could stop in at my new site – Mac Software Tutorials – and give it a like on facebook if you use that social network. At any rate, you may find some helpful info on my that site as well.

  14. Christian Johnston says:

    I’m running Lion (10.7) on my MacBook laptop, and I have an hp LaserJet 3380 all in one printer. And you’re correct – I can’t scan with either a direct USB connection or through wifi.

    Also, when I try to run Preview or Print & Scan under System Preferences, my printer doesn’t show up as a possible scanner in the list of devices, just like it doesn’t appear in the list of devices under Image Capture. In Print & Scan, my printer does show up as a printer, but there’s no Scan button or link that some sites say should be there.

    • Christian,

      Did you try running HP Set Up Assistant? It should be in the Hewlett-Packard folder in your Applications folder.

      I think you should probably delete your printer from system prefs first – and then run the assistant to set it up again.

      I seem to remember having an issue like this a few years ago with a different model HP – and, although my memory is fuzzy on the topic, I believe that the HP setup assistant is what got me up and running.

      Let me know if it works.

  15. Christian Johnston says:

    When I run Image Capture, my HP all in one printer does not show up in the list of devices. I’ve already downloaded the latest HP drivers for the Mac and also uninstalled (scrubbed) the previous HP programs and reinstalled them. And I still can’t scan – from Image Capture, Preview or Print & Scan under System Preferences. I also have HP Director on my Mac, but the scanner for the HP all in one doesn’t show up in that program either. I can print without any problem with my HP all in one (both through a USB cable and a wireless network), so I don’t know what the problem is. Thoughts?

    • Christian,
      I think we need a few more details to figure this one out.

      What OS are you running on your Mac. It is my understanding that under Leopard scanning was glitchy – but under Snow Leopard and Lion things should be working better.

      What model printer do you have?

      I am assuming that scanning is not working under both a USB connection and a wifi connection, correct?

  16. Hey this works, thanks!

    On my Windows all I had to do was double click on the Scanner image in My Computer.

  17. Karen Drage says:

    Thank you for your helpful scan HP all in one to Mac. I am sharing a HP all in one from my Mac on a wireless network with PC. I can print no problem. I can scan from the PC. When I try to scan from the MAC the HP appears on the list in Image capture but when I click on it it says ” printer not connected or in use by another” This message also when the PC is switched on or off. Any ideas
    many thanks

  18. Hello would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using? I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m having a difficult time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique. P.S My apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!