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README - Apple CUPS v2.3.6 - 2022-05-25

Note: Apple CUPS is the version of CUPS that is shipped with macOS and iOS. For the current version of CUPS that is used on other operating systems, see for details.


CUPS is a standards-based, open source printing system developed by Apple Inc. for macOS® and other UNIX®-like operating systems. CUPS uses the Internet Printing Protocol ("IPP") and provides System V and Berkeley command-line interfaces, a web interface, and a C API to manage printers and print jobs. It supports printing to both local (parallel, serial, USB) and networked printers, and printers can be shared from one computer to another, even over the Internet!

Internally, CUPS uses PostScript Printer Description ("PPD") files to describe printer capabilities and features and a wide variety of generic and device- specific programs to convert and print many types of files. Sample drivers are included with CUPS to support many Dymo, EPSON, HP, Intellitech, OKIDATA, and Zebra printers. Many more drivers are available online and (in some cases) on the driver CD-ROM that came with your printer.

CUPS is licensed under the Apache License Version 2.0. See the file "LICENSE" for more information.


Initial documentation to get you started is provided in the root directory of the CUPS sources:

  • A list of changes in the current major release of CUPS.
  • Guidelines for contributing to the CUPS project.
  • A list of past contributors to the CUPS project.
  • Guidelines for developing code for the CUPS project.
  • Instructions for building and installing CUPS.
  • LICENSE: The CUPS license agreement (Apache 2.0).
  • NOTICE: Copyright notices and exceptions to the CUPS license agreement.
  • This file.

Once you have installed the software you can access the documentation (and a bunch of other stuff) online at http://localhost:631/ and using the man command, for example man cups.

If you're having trouble getting that far, the documentation is located under the doc/help and man directories.

Please read the documentation before asking questions.


If you have problems, read the documentation first! We also provide two mailing lists which are available at

See the CUPS web site at for other resources.


CUPS includes a web-based administration tool that allows you to manage printers, classes, and jobs on your server. Open http://localhost:631/admin/ in your browser to access the printer administration tools:

Do not use the hostname for your machine - it will not work with the default CUPS configuration. To enable administration access on other addresses, check the Allow Remote Administration box and click on the Change Settings button.

You will be asked for the administration password (root or any other user in the "sys", "system", "root", "admin", or "lpadmin" group on your system) when performing any administrative function.


CUPS currently uses PPD (PostScript Printer Description) files that describe printer capabilities and driver programs needed for each printer. The everywhere PPD is used for nearly all modern networks printers sold since about 2009. For example, the following command creates a print queue for a printer at address "":

lpadmin -p printername -E -v ipp:// -m everywhere

CUPS also includes several sample PPD files you can use for "legacy" printers:

Driver PPD Name
Dymo Label Printers drv:///sample.drv/dymo.ppd
Intellitech Intellibar drv:///sample.drv/intelbar.ppd
EPSON 9-pin Series drv:///sample.drv/epson9.ppd
EPSON 24-pin Series drv:///sample.drv/epson24.ppd
Generic PCL Laser Printer drv:///sample.drv/generpcl.ppd
Generic PostScript Printer drv:///sample.drv/generic.ppd
HP DeskJet Series drv:///sample.drv/deskjet.ppd
HP LaserJet Series drv:///sample.drv/laserjet.ppd
OKIDATA 9-Pin Series drv:///sample.drv/okidata9.ppd
OKIDATA 24-Pin Series drv:///sample.drv/okidat24.ppd
Zebra CPCL Label Printer drv:///sample.drv/zebracpl.ppd
Zebra EPL1 Label Printer drv:///sample.drv/zebraep1.ppd
Zebra EPL2 Label Printer drv:///sample.drv/zebraep2.ppd
Zebra ZPL Label Printer drv:///sample.drv/zebra.ppd

You can run the lpinfo -m command to list all of the available drivers:

lpinfo -m

Run the lpinfo -v command to list the available printers:

lpinfo -v

Then use the correct URI to add the printer using the lpadmin command:

lpadmin -p printername -E -v device-uri -m ppd-name

Current network printers typically use ipp or ipps URIS:

lpadmin -p printername -E -v ipp:// -m everywhere
lpadmin -p printername -E -v ipps:// -m everywhere

Older network printers typically use socket or lpd URIs:

lpadmin -p printername -E -v socket:// -m ppd-name
lpadmin -p printername -E -v lpd:// -m ppd-name

The sample drivers provide basic printing capabilities, but generally do not exercise the full potential of the printers or CUPS. Other drivers provide greater printing capabilities.


CUPS provides both the System V lp and Berkeley lpr commands for printing:

lp filename
lpr filename

Both the lp and lpr commands support printing options for the driver:

lp -o media=A4 -o resolution=600dpi filename
lpr -o media=A4 -o resolution=600dpi filename

CUPS recognizes many types of images files as well as PDF, PostScript, and text files, so you can print those files directly rather than through an application.

If you have an application that generates output specifically for your printer then you need to use the -oraw or -l options:

lp -o raw filename
lpr -l filename

This will prevent the filters from misinterpreting your print file.


Copyright © 2007-2021 by Apple Inc. Copyright © 1997-2007 by Easy Software Products.

CUPS is provided under the terms of the Apache License, Version 2.0 with exceptions for GPL2/LGPL2 software. A copy of this license can be found in the file LICENSE. Additional legal information is provided in the file NOTICE.

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.