Matt RaibleMatt Raible is a Java Champion and Developer Advocate at Okta.

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Over 10 years ago, I wrote my first blog post. Since then, I've authored books, had kids, traveled the world, found Trish and blogged about it all.

Airport Extreme

Airport Extreme Even though I managed to get my home network speedy again after my bandwidth speed issues, I bought a new Airport Extreme last week. My main reason for buying it was its USB device sharing feature. I have a Suse 10 box that runs Samba, DHCP, DNS right now, but for some reason, my MacBook Pro doesn't work for printing to CUPS over Samba. In my experience, printing is one of the major issues with Macs - it just never seems to work when you want to print over a network. I have gotten it to work in the past, but it's often been a wretched weekend's adventures where I end up sacrificing a goat to the CUPS gods to get everything working.

So by buying an Airport Extreme, I figured I'd have an Apple product at the center of my network and all my problems would be solved. I was wrong.

First of all, why can't there be a web interface on this sucker? Why does it require that I have a client installed to configure it? With most routers I've worked with in the past (NetGear and Linksys), the web interface might've been clunky, but it didn't require I install a CD. I initially tried installing the software on Windows XP, but for some reason it wasn't able to communicate. So I installed it on my Mac and was able to configure everything. While the setup process worked, and I was able to access the internet afterwards, this device doesn't seem to work well with my network. After plugging my printer in (an HP OfficeJet G85), I was able to add it on both XP and OS X using Bonjour. However, no matter what I sent to the printer, it'd never print. Further gripes: it might have an integrated firewall, but there doesn't seem to be a way to configure it. I couldn't find any way to do port forwarding. This stuff is so simple to do on my Netgear router.

At this point, it seems logical to return my Airport Extreme as it simply doesn't work as expected. Of course, my frustration could be from my lack of knowledge, but that's the point - I shouldn't have to read the documentation or contact Apple Support - it should all just work.

Posted in Mac OS X at Feb 28 2007, 09:23:29 AM MST 35 Comments

That's unfortunate, especially because Apple is usually the company that makes the products that "just work". My Airport Express was simple to get up an running... however, I shared one similar problem, I couldn't print. Turns out that it is a problem with my HP printer. In fact, I don't know anyone that has gotten an HP printer to work with their Mac... except for the HP for Mac printers that they sell. Also, I'm not sure why, but the comment box I'm typing in right now is only 9 characters wide in Safari... did you update your site recently? I can send you a screenshot if you'd like

Posted by Joe Scalise on February 28, 2007 at 11:04 AM MST #

So it sounds like I can continue to struggle with my Mac printing issues or buy a new printer? Ugh. I've had mine (a fax/copy/scan/print bad boy) for over 7 years and it's always worked great with Windows and Linux.

I fixed the CSS for Safari - apparently it doesn't like 100%, so I changed it to 500px. Thanks for letting me know.

Posted by Matt Raible on February 28, 2007 at 11:27 AM MST #

I've been using a HP Laserjet 1010 (and used a couple of other Laserjets) without any problems (even plug and play) from OS X (as well as Windows and Linux). So saying HP printers doesn't work is a bit of a stretch.

Posted by Conny Lundgren on March 01, 2007 at 08:09 AM MST #

Hey Matt, I'm not trying to share a printer on mine but I'll tell you one thing, this device has solved my itunes library sharing problem big time! It's very cool. I actually have 3 osx machines at home, put all of my songs on a shared usb hdd connected to the extreme. the thing that really blows me away is that i can upload a song to the shared drive from one machine while i play a song on another machine and yet another song on another machine which is streaming that song wirelessly to my airport express via airtunes. all with out any buffer issues, not a single skip or delay in the streaming music (also, my express is about 75 feet away, on a different floor with a few walls between). I hate the lack of web client too. The other complaint that I have is that they didn't put a firewire port on it. It's apple for crying out load, what the hell were they thinking? The one problem I do have with this router is that it doesn't play nicely with vpn. apple has acknowledged this and is apparently fixing it.

Posted by rick marry on March 01, 2007 at 10:58 AM MST #

Matt, I am waiting for mine to arrive and after reading your post, I started to search about port forwarding since I do need heavy port forwarding here as well (I work from home doing J2EE consulting and port forwarding is a key enabler for a lot of things we do in our team either here in Buenos Aires, USA and some other locations). Needless to say that having young adults (girl and 2 boys) at home also put port forwarding as top priority, but I as keep them on a separate network having their own DSL link, they handle that with a WRT54 (ahh your kids are still too young so have not started to provide IT support to your kids .. that is a big family issue believe me... you will blog when they start to use the net, but that is another story!) After reading your blues, I was planning to keep my good old WRT54 as my gatekeeper and use the new Apple beast to bridge my MBP and new 802.N gear to my internal LAN. I just found this post, that seems to be very positive, so just in case... Hopefully I will know when mine arrives...

Posted by Gustavo Faerman on March 03, 2007 at 05:29 AM MST #

you can do port mapping. 1) Command - L (this switches you to manual setup) 2) Command - 2 (this selects the internet tab) 3) Make sure Connection Sharing is set to "Share a public IP address" 4) Command - 6 (switches to advanced tab) you should see port mapping in the advanced pane.

Posted by rick marry on March 04, 2007 at 07:24 PM MST #

of course all of this happens in the airport utility.

Posted by rick marry on March 04, 2007 at 07:25 PM MST #

There should be no problem using an HP printer on a wired or unwired network as long as you have the latest drivers installed. I have had no problems printing to a variety of HP printers from my Mac powerbook G4 after updating my HP printer drivers.

Posted by Virgil Shields on March 12, 2007 at 01:28 PM MDT #

Same problem as above - got an HP G85 printer; Airport Extreme works OK otherwise; G85 prints fine when connected to the Powerbook directly; but can't find drivers if G85 plugged into the USB port on the AE. Can anyone help? It can see the printer via bonjour, but can't load the drivers. Maybe my inexperience?

Posted by paul Brown on April 18, 2007 at 04:59 AM MDT #

Same same. Bought AirPort Extreme to share a HP G85 without joy. Couldn't find a suitable driver out of the box; tried installing Gutenprint 5 (full release of the Gimp-print beta present in Tiger), which Airport Utility seemed to like as a printer driver, but still nothing prints. At this point it seems that the only solution may be to change the printer, unless HP pull their finger out with a fix which, for a 7 year old printer, is probably optimistic.

Posted by Ian Farrar on April 29, 2007 at 12:17 AM MDT #

I'm having the same problem with my HP G85 Printer -- it works great with all my windows machines, but my new MacBook Pro can see it, but won't download/install correct drivers, so it just prints gibberish. HP basically told me that this is an Apple problem. I tried downloading the correct drivers for my MacBook Pro, but since I don't have it wired directly, I haven't been able to get them installed. Very frustrating. Dave

Posted by Dave Schappell on May 12, 2007 at 09:16 AM MDT #

I did not have much trouble getting an HP 940c to work with a MacBook Pro and Win XP HP laptop wirelessly initially. However, recently the Mac stopped printing B&W documents for no good reason. Color and photos will stil print though. The Win computer still prints fine.

Posted by Jay Weed on May 25, 2007 at 06:35 PM MDT #

My printed is an HP 4simx and I have been able to print via wired ethernet to it after setting up the printer with the drivers in MAC OSX. The HP 4simx jet direct cards support Appletalk. You may need to set up your printers to IP printers with an IP address if they don't have appletalk. However you may want to be sure that you have appletalk turned on in the "network" system preferences for Airport if you are trying to print wirelessly. If printing wired with ethernet cable, be sure appletalk is turned on for builtin ethernet. BTW - I am having a similar problem but it is a Netgear wireless MIMO router. All three of my MACs can print when connected with ethernet cables to the HP 4simx. I have a MACbook that can print wirelessly through the Netgear wireless router to the HP 4simx but my Powerbook g4 cannot. I suspect there may be an IP addressing problem.

Posted by Bill Alford on May 26, 2007 at 05:33 PM MDT #

I have the extreme in a Mac / PC environment. I am sharing my HP CP1700 and 500 GB hard drive between two Macs and a Dell Latitude D820 - no problems.

Some things I learned about making printing work:

Install the latest drivers, and keep in mind you will install TWICE if you install to print locally and over the airport. I kept trying to make one printer 'instance' work for both connections.

Ended up installing once as a USB printer, and then a second time as a Bonjour printer. I named one CP1700USB and the other CP1700AP.

The great thing about this setup is that the Macs & PC all share the printer, and I can copy files from the PC to the Mac and vice-versa via the USB HD and it 'just works'.

I was able to set up the VPN connection to my Windows 2003 Server at work, as well as port forwarding for Azureus for both Macs. You have to dig a little, but it really works well. I was using a D-Link router on FiOS and the router would crash frequently -- but the Extreme works flawlessly all of the time.

Posted by Vaporland on May 28, 2007 at 07:54 AM MDT #

I had a similar problem with my printer, a small HP inkjet (I forget the model off the top of my head). It worked fine with the UFO shaped Airport I had but wouldn't work at all on the new one. What I had to do was get the GIMPS drivers (they're available free on the internet) and install them, then you add a new printer using the IP address of the Airport Extreme that it's connected to - usually that's, but you're mileage may vary. I later moved the printer to the little Airport cube device, which also has a USB port. On my network it's IP is - just moved it over and everything worked. Then I was able to plub in my USB hard drive to the Airport Extreme. Worked slicker than snot on a doorknob.

Posted by Michael Grace on June 09, 2007 at 08:49 AM MDT #

I have a new Airport Extreme and have been able to print using Bon Jour from my XP machine to a HP LaserJet 1200 no problem. What I cannot do is see the files in my Buffalo hard drive, which is also connected to the Extreme's USB, though I can see the Buffalo hard drive itself -- again, just not the Buffalo's files. I did connect two different thumb drives to the USB, via a hub, one of which displayed files and the other one did not. So I know it's not a problem with the Extreme per se, just that some drives' files are 'recognizable' and some are not. Does anyone have suggestions, either as how to get my Buffalo to show its files (ideal) or the names of other brands of HD's known to work properly with an Extreme and XP setup?

Posted by Tim Roche on June 14, 2007 at 10:35 AM MDT #

I've found the only area this baby that is really screwed up is the Port Mapping. This is so easily done with ANY other popular router in the world, but not with the AEBS. Let's say I have an application that requires me to open port 8081. I've tried a dozen different times to do this with Port Mapping but still when I let ShieldsUP do a port probe for port 8081 it does not show up as open. This is a serious shortcoming in an otherwise great product. Larry

Posted by Larry McJunkin on June 22, 2007 at 12:51 PM MDT #

Same problem here. I spent hours trying to print to a brand new HP officejet Pro L7580 connected to the USB port of an Airport Express. (from a Powerbook G4). The printer is recognized and indicated as a Bonjour printer, but all three mac laptops (2 Powerbooks and 1 iBook) simply crash every time they are installing ("gathering printer information"). Latest drivers and OS X versions installed. It's no use.

Posted by Peel on June 25, 2007 at 12:03 PM MDT #

same print problems here. HP 1200, worked fine w/ old airport for many years, doesn't like the new AE one bit. spent an hour on the phone w/ apple tech support to no avail. set up is fine, drivers current, etc. doesn't work. they acted like this was the first time they had ever heard of print issues w/ the new AE and said i should talk to HP.

Posted by manny on July 24, 2007 at 07:26 PM MDT #

Hey- I can't seem to connect to a USB drive successfully. Each time I plug it in, it asks for a password and once I enter the password, the green light turns to yellow and a message states that I have entered an incorrect password- which I haven't. I can't get around this issue and it's a big reason why I bought the darn thing. Can anyone offer a suggestion?

Posted by Joe B. on July 26, 2007 at 09:21 PM MDT #

Hey Matt,

I bought this thing about a week ago, and it took me FOREVER to figure out how to make the damn thing work. Mostly because I had never dealt with it before, I was trying to find the web interface to configure it. Just like you and I had done on the Linksys and Net Gear. I actually got so pissed that I threw the thing on my couch, knowing if I threw it anywhere else, I could not return it.

But once I figured out how to make it work, share and configure network drives, and do printer sharing on it, network my tivo's, and all of my computers, as well as on my new mac that I was still getting used to, it actually works just great. I have never had to reboot it to make it work, it doesn't get too hot, and with a usb hub, I have two network drives attached to it. It works fine.

Printing, however, I get the same problem you had. I know that some HP Printers work, and any of the PSC (Printer - Scanner - Copier) printers don't work. But, until I find a printer that does work (and there are many of them, I just have to find a credible source) I have not had any problems with this router at all. It is very fast, and very reliable, and very versitle. You just need to know how to set it up. Best thing to do: sit down with a cup of tea, and actually read the manual. I usually don't, but this is one of those times where I wish I had before hand, becuase the set-up is different than a regular router.

Posted by Nick on August 05, 2007 at 12:46 PM MDT #

Joe B.

On the back of your router, there is a little button. Press this button and hold it (while the routher is plugged in) for about 15 seconds or so, and this will reset your entire router (and network settings). Hold the button for one second or two and it will reboot your router with network settings having been saved. That should get rid of your password problem. You can then set up another password. If you USB drive is protected, it may ask you for a password to access it.

Posted by Nick on August 05, 2007 at 12:52 PM MDT #

I, for one, am an Apple addict. It just works. It's sleek, it's sexy, and state of the art. I never knew you could make a router all of this, but they did with the Extreme. My MacBook Pro was very happy to shake hands with it. And then I bought the OfficeJet Pro L7780 All in One wireless. What the hell? My printer's firmware crashed, to the point no button worked. Just before I was about to throw the damn thing out of the window, I unplugged my router and plugged it in again. And the printer works. Well, you say, then what's the problem? Well, every time I turn off the printer, I have to do the same damn thing!! At one point I had to put my router in bridge mode, because it advised me to do so (something to do with double NAT use, whatever that may be) and while it works, I still have to do this unplugging routine. I am quite certain the printer works fine, and that my router is the culprit. Does anyone have any clue how to circumvent this? Thanks!

Posted by Jason Meyer on August 11, 2007 at 08:09 AM MDT #

I set up my airport extreme tonight. I am using a Brother dcp 7020. No problems printing.

Posted by jennifer on August 15, 2007 at 02:18 AM MDT #

I set up mu airport extreme twice without any problems. The only resaon I installed it twice because I just purchased the "old" version when the gigabit ethernet version was released. I can print wirelessly without any problems with a four year old printer

Posted by Michelle on August 20, 2007 at 03:21 PM MDT #

I installed AE and the speed is great and I can now access wifi with my iphone over the entire house and outside area.

Problem is printing to my HP8250 printer which worked fine with my linksys router and wireless print device on a Dell Laptop PC. The iphone made me take another look at Mac so I bought a MacBook, then AE, and now I guess I have to find a compatible printer to both the MacBook and my wifes Dell PC.

For long term Mac users, keep us posted on what works or how to make it work.

Posted by TOM Patterson on August 23, 2007 at 03:59 AM MDT #

I have my airport extreme setup in my home sharing two HP printers (PSC 1401, and a D5160), along with two hard drives (Seagate and WD). I just bought a usb hub and hooked it all up and everything worked great for me. My VPN connection to work works great too. I have not yet used port forwarding, but I have found the configuration tab and it seemes to be straight forward. I didn't do anything fancy, just ran the configuration cd and I was in business.

Posted by Chris on September 01, 2007 at 06:20 PM MDT #

Back to the original question posted in Feb.: Did anyone ever get the HP G85 to work with MacBook Pro via Airport Extreme?Yes, I installed the new HP drivers. The HP website lists HP printers which work with Mac but it does not list G85. The MacBook prints on the G85 when hardwired, but the HP Setup Assistant does not recognize the airport. I could not find anything on the HP sites where they ever mention airport. What the heck, nothing else to do today but futily fight incompatibility.

Posted by Rex Hodges on September 03, 2007 at 04:31 PM MDT #

i have hp laser jet 1010 usb printer which is installed on one system and shared on all network. but whel i am ging to install it on another pc through network ,the drivers are get installed successfully. but while i am going to take a test page print it show the error message that THE CURRTENT PRINTER DRIVERS ARE NOT INSTALLED ON SYSTEM DO YOU WANT TO INSTALL IT. if i install it again it show message THIS DEVICE IS FAILED TO PRINT WOULD YOU LIKE TO VIEW THE PRINT TROUBLESHOOTER FOR ASSISTANCE ? OPERATION COULD NOT COMPLETE PL GUID ME TO INSTALL THE PRINTER

Posted by pradeep on September 06, 2007 at 10:28 PM MDT #

I have a HP Deskjet 970CXi connected to a PC running Ubuntu 7.04 and shared using cups. When I brought my new macbook home, it just worked, I didn't do anything, it found the printer on the network and everything works beautifully. I bought my wife a macbook as they're so fantastic and it just worked too, so it wasn't a fluke. Not only that I have some huge Xerox funky thing at the office. I have to admit, I visited their network downloaded the drivers but a couple of clicks and that also worked like a dream. It's even served up from a Window's network and surprisingly, still works. Having a correct networking config / cups config seems to be the key. I can't comment on the AirPort. I do fancy one when I get OS X 10.5 and time-machine. Not sure I'd consider plugging the printer into it now though!

Posted by Paul Gresham on September 15, 2007 at 02:33 AM MDT #

For those having problems communicating with your printers via Airport Extreme try this link. I had many of the same issues you talk about. I was able to print flawlessly from the macbook pro but could not do it from a windows machine. (because of this i knew the issues was windows...not AE). I configured it manually and now it works flawlessly on both my windows and mac computers. WHAT FIXED MY PROBLEM WAS CHANGING THE PORT FROM 9100 TO 9101. There is apparently some issues with certain ports for whatever reason. Just make sure you follow each step....I had to do it about 5 times because i was rushing and did not read the part about changing your ports. Hope this helps some of you.

Posted by errod on December 31, 2007 at 11:27 PM MST #

Has anyone found a solution to having the G85 work with the AirPort Express???

Bought it today (the AirPort) with the sole purpose of sharing my printer with all the comps in the house and so far it doesn't look good...

I have the printer showing up through the AirPort on 3 computers (2 XP and 1 Vista), but when I print a test page it takes forever and finally says "Error-Printing" in the status tab... Same for all 3. Also, the printer acts as if it isn't receiving any information (and works perfectly when plugged straight into the PC).

I hope I can get this to work, as I have already noticed some increased connectivity (previously using an Alliant SpeedStream DSL modem as my only wireless source).

Thanks to anyone who can help,


Posted by Ease on January 04, 2009 at 01:08 PM MST #

I've got the same situation -- trying to get my HP G85 printer to work when connected to my new Apple Time Capsule via USB. All the computers on my network (wired and wireless, Windows XP machines and MacBooks) can see the G85 connected to the TC, but no luck in getting anything to print!! Please help!!

Posted by Jeff on March 09, 2009 at 04:18 PM MDT #

Thank Gooodness I read your comments! I just got off the phone with HP which claimed they could help getting my hp printer to work with my MacBook wireless with Airport Extreme, but the printer was out of warranty - so I would have to pay a fee!

I hung up on him!

I will never purchase HP again!

I will be looking toward Canon to get a wireless computer - hopefully this will be a better bet.

Posted by linda on February 17, 2010 at 03:56 PM MST #

[Trackback] Someone referenced this post to answer question "Is it possible my Linksys wireless router is incompatible with Windows 7? It worked perfectly on my XP?"...

Posted by Copious-Systems on December 01, 2010 at 01:24 PM MST #

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