How to connect a USB receipt printer up on Mac OS X

This post will show you how to set up a USB receipt printer on Max OS X. These steps were written on Yosemite, but should work on 10.6 onwards (ie, also Snow Leopard through to El Capitan).

This is another post in a series, which has so far covered direct USB printing on Windows and Linux. The printer tested here is this Epson TM-T20:


CUPS is the printing system that’s used on Mac, but most users would be more familiar with the system print dialog:


In our case, we need to set up the printer via the CUPS web interface. This is accessed via a web browser at this address:


At first, you will get knocked back:


To fix this up, open up Applications → Utilities → Terminal and type in:

cupsctl WebInterface=yes

You can then reload the browser and click through to Administration:


Click Add Printer and log in:



Select the USB printer from the list, and optionally share it:



Click Select Another Make/Manufacturer, and select Raw → Raw Queue:




Use the defaults for the other options:


Test print

Type some junk into a file called foo.txt and attempt to print it, using the CUPS printer name:

nano foo.txt
lpr -o raw -H localhost -P EPSON_TM-T20 foo.txt

The prints will be delayed for a few moments, as CUPS spools the jobs.

Disable CUPS web

Once you’re done, for security reasons you should reset this option from before, to disable the web interface to CUPS:

cupsctl WebInterface=no

5 Replies to “How to connect a USB receipt printer up on Mac OS X”

  1. Hi, Dude, thanks for this post, I can install the bluetooth thermal in my mac using CUPS, and I can printing the test page in the admin CUPS page.

    My problem is: when I try to write foo.txt and send to the lpr nothing working. Is there more which I need to do? Thanks for your help

  2. Hello. It´s an old post.
    Will it work with any usb receipt printer?
    Or does the printer has to have a Mac driver?
    Some printers have Mac drivers, but not many.

  3. @Marco – No special driver was required for this setup, but it is only suitable for ‘raw printing’.

    A piece of software still needs to generate printer commands as part of your setup (for formatting, adding images, cutting the paper etc). This is usually done by point-of-sale software (check Mac compatibility for that), but some vendors also provide drivers for their receipt printers. A vendor driver would generally install the printer so that you can use the regular system print dialog (for web pages, PDF files, word documents, etc). This is not commonly required in point of sale environments, so it’s no problem if they aren’t provided for Mac.

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