hp-printer-app Documentation

Version License

HP Printer Application Documentation

HP Printer Application v1.2.0 Copyright 2019-2022 by Michael R Sweet

hp-printer-app is licensed under the Apache License Version 2.0. See the files “LICENSE” and “NOTICE” for more information.

Table of Contents


hp-printer-app is an HP PCL printer application for macOS® and Linux®. I wrote it originally as sample code for PAPPL and now maintain it as a standalone application.

Basically, hp-printer-app is a print spooler optimized for PCL printing. It directly accepts “raw” print data as well as JPEG and PNG images and has built-in “drivers” to send the print data to USB and network-connected PCL printers. The spooler also tries to keep the paper moving by merging jobs over a single connection to the printer rather than starting and stopping like CUPS does to support a wider variety of printers.

hp-printer-app supports all standard PCL paper sizes, paper trays, and 2-sided printing modes. Whenever possible, hp-printer-app will auto-detect the make and model of your printer and its installed capabilities. And you can configure the default values of all options as well as manually configure the media that is loaded in each printer.

hp-printer-app also offers a simple network server mode that makes any PCL printers appear as IPP Everywhere™/AirPrint™/Mopria™ printers on your network. Thus, any Android™, Chrome OS™, iOS®, Linux, macOS, or Windows 10/11 client can use any PCL printer supported by hp-printer-app. And you can, of course, send jobs from hp-printer-app to an hp-printer-app server on the network.

Finally, hp-printer-app offers command-line and web-based monitoring of printer and job status.


hp-printer-app is published as a snap for Linux. Run the following command to install it:

sudo snap install hp-printer-app

A package file is included with all source releases on Github for use on macOS 10.14 and higher for both Intel and Apple Silicon.

If you need to install hp-printer-app from source, you’ll need a “make” program, a C99 compiler (Clang and GCC work), the CUPS developer files, and the PAPPL developer files. Once the prerequisites are installed on your system, use the following commands to install hp-printer-app to “/usr/local/bin”:

sudo make install

The “configure” script supports the usual autoconf options - run:

./configure --help

to get a list of configuration options.

Basic Usage

hp-printer-app uses a single executable to perform all functions. The normal syntax is:

hp-printer-app SUB-COMMAND [OPTIONS] [FILES]

where “SUB-COMMAND” is one of the following:

  • “add”: Add a printer
  • “cancel”: Cancel one or more jobs
  • “default”: Get or set the default printer
  • “delete”: Delete a printer
  • “devices”: List available printers
  • “drivers”: List available drivers
  • “jobs”: List queued jobs
  • “modify”: Modify a printer
  • “options”: Lists the supported options and values
  • “printers”: List added printer queues
  • “server”: Run in server mode
  • “shutdown”: Shutdown a running server
  • “status”: Show server or printer status
  • “submit”: Submit one or more files for printing

You can omit the sub-command if you just want to print something, for example:

hp-printer-app report.pcl

The options vary based on the sub-command, but most commands support “-d” to specify a printer and “-o” to specify a named option with a value, for example:

  • hp-printer-app -d myprinter report.pcl: Print a file to the printer named “myprinter”.
  • hp-printer-app -o media=na_index-4x6_4x6in photo.jpg: Print a photo to a 4x6 page.
  • hp-printer-app default -d myprinter: Set “myprinter” as the default printer.

You can find our more about each sub-command by reading its included man page, for example the following command will explain all of the supported options for the “submit” sub-command:

man hp-printer-app-submit

Adding Printers

The “add” sub-command adds a new printer:

hp-printer-app add -d PRINTER -v DEVICE-URI -m DRIVER-NAME

“PRINTER” is the name you want to give the print queue. Printer names can contain spaces and special characters, but if you do any printing from scripts you probably want to limit yourself to ASCII letters, numbers, and punctuation.

“DEVICE-URI” is a “usb:”, “snmp:”, or “socket:” URI for the printer. For USB-connected label printers, use the “devices” sub-command to discover the URI to use:

hp-printer-app devices

For network-connected printers, print the configuration summary on your printer to discover its IP address. The device URI will then be “socket://” followed by the IP address. For example, a printer at address will use the device URI “socket://”.

Many network-connected printers also support discovery via DNS-SD and SNMP - use the “devices” sub-command to discover these printers’ device URIs.

Finally, the “DRIVER-NAME” is the name of the internal hp-printer-app driver for the printer. Use the “drivers” sub-command to list the available drivers:

hp-printer-app drivers

For example, a common PCL laser printer uses the “hp_generic” driver:

hp-printer-app add -d myprinter -v socket:// -m hp_generic

Printing Options

The following options are supported by the “submit” sub-command:

  • “-n NNN”: Specifies the number of copies to produce.
  • “-o media=SIZE-NAME”: Specifies the media size name using the PWG media size self-describing name (see below).
  • “-o media-source=TRAY-NAME”: Specifies the tray to use such as ‘tray-1’ or ‘manual’.
  • “-o media-type=TYPE-NAME”: Specifies a media type name such as ‘stationery’, ‘photographic’, or ‘transparency’.
  • “-o orientation-requested=none”: Prints in portrait or landscape orientation automatically.
  • “-o orientation-requested=portrait”: Prints in portrait orientation.
  • “-o orientation-requested=landscape”: Prints in landscape (90 degrees counter- clockwise) orientation.
  • “-o orientation-requested=reverse-portrait”: Prints in reverse portrait (upside down) orientation.
  • “-o orientation-requested=reverse-landscape”: Prints in reverse landscape (90 degrees clockwise) orientation.
  • “-o print-color-mode=bi-level”: Prints black-and-white output with no shading.
  • “-o print-color-mode=monochrome”: Prints grayscale output with shading as needed.
  • “-o print-content-optimize=auto”: Automatically optimize printing based on content.
  • “-o print-content-optimize=graphic”: Automatically optimize printing for graphics like lines and barcodes.
  • “-o print-content-optimize=photo”: Automatically optimize printing for photos or other shaded images.
  • “-o print-content-optimize=text”: Automatically optimize printing for text.
  • “-o print-content-optimize=text-and-graphic”: Automatically optimize printing for text and graphics.
  • “-o print-quality=draft”: Print using the lowest quality and fastest speed.
  • “-o print-quality=normal”: Print using good quality and speed.
  • “-o print-quality=high”: Print using the best quality and slowest speed.
  • “-o printer-resolution=NNNdpi”: Specifies the print resolution in dots per inch.
  • “-t TITLE”: Specifies the title of the job that appears in the list produced by the “jobs” sub-command.

Media sizes use the PWG self-describing name format which looks like this:


“CLASS” is “na” for North American media sizes, “iso” for international media sizes, and “jis” for Japanese media sizes. The standard sizes are:

  • iso_a3_297x420mm: ISO A3
  • iso_a4_210x297mm: ISO A4
  • iso_a5_148x210mm: ISO A5
  • iso_b5_176x250mm: ISO B5
  • iso_c5_162x229mm: ISO C5 Envelope
  • iso_dl_110x220mm: ISO DL Envelope
  • jis_b5_182x257mm: JIS B5
  • na_ledger_11x17in: US Tabloid
  • na_legal_8.5x14in: US Legal
  • na_letter_8.5x11in: US Letter
  • na_executive_7x10in: US Executive
  • na_number-10_4.125x9.5in: US #10 Envelope
  • na_monarch_3.875x7.5in: US Monarch Envelope

You can get a list of supported values for these options using the “options” sub-command:

hp-printer-app options
hp-printer-app options -d PRINTER

Setting Default Options

You can set the default values for each option with the “add” or “modify” sub-commands:

hp-printer-app add -d PRINTER -v DEVICE-URI -m DRIVER-NAME -o OPTION=VALUE ...
hp-printer-app modify -D PRINTER -o OPTION=VALUE ...

In addition, you can configure the installed media and other printer settings using other “-o” options. For example, the following command configures the paper that is installed in a HP LaserJet printer:

hp-printer-app modify -d LaserJet \
  -o media-ready=na_letter_8.5x11in,iso_a4_210x297mm

Use the “options” sub-command to see which settings are supported for a particular printer.

Running a Server

The “server” sub-command runs a standalone spooler. The following options control the server operation:

  • “-o listen-hostname=HOSTNAME”: Sets the network hostname to resolve for listen addresses - use “*” for the wildcard addresses.
  • “-o server-hostname=HOSTNAME”: Sets the network hostname to advertise.
  • “-o server-name=DNS-SD-NAME”: Sets the DNS-SD name to advertise.
  • “-o server-port=NNN”: Sets the network port number; the default is randomly assigned.
  • “-o auth-service=SERVICE”: Specifies a PAM service for remote authentication.
  • “-o admin-group=GROUP”: Specifies a group to use for remote authentication.
  • “-o spool-directory=DIRECTORY”: Specifies the directory to store print files.
  • “-o log-file=FILENAME”: Specifies a log file.
  • “-o log-file=-“: Specifies that log entries are written to the standard error.
  • “-o log-file=syslog”: Specifies that log entries are sent to the system log.
  • “-o log-level=LEVEL”: Specifies the log level - “debug”, “info”, “warn”, “error”, or “fatal”.

Note: When you install the hp-printer-app snap on Linux, the server is automatically run as root. On macOS, running the “HP Printer App” application starts the server. When you install from source, a systemd service file is installed but not activated - it can be used to automatically start hp-printer-app when the system boots.

Server Web Interface

When you run a standalone spooler on a network hostname, a web interface can be enabled that allows you to add, modify, and delete printers, as well as setting the default printer. To require authentication for the various web interface operations, you set the PAM authentication service with the -o auth-service=SERVICE option. For example, to use the “cups” PAM service with hp-printer-app, run:

hp-printer-app -o server-name=HOSTNAME -o server-port=NNN -o auth-service=cups

By default, any user can authenticate web interface operations. To restrict access to a particular UNIX group, use the -o admin-group=GROUP option as well.


The following additional resources are available: