Can I hook up an ethernet printer to an iMac with usb?


I’m trying to hook up an old Apple Laserwriter, which normally works with an ethernet connection, to a 17" iMac with usb. Will your USB 2.0 High-Speed 10/100 Network Ethernet LAN Adapter do the trick?

Richard Schlecht


Hi Richard,

Thanks for the question! The quick answer is: No, I’d suspect this is not what you’re looking for.

The reason why is the adapter adds an (additional) Ethernet network interface to your iMac. From a connector perspective, it’s USB Type A (the standard flattened connector that connects to the host side) to RJ45 (the standard ethernet/cat5 connector).

The adapter does not connect directly to or add any capability to the Laserwriter itself. It’s just adding another network interface to the iMac.

So the reason why I’d say “no” is as long as your iMac already has a network interface, it should be possible (via a netowrk hub or switch) to connect both the iMac and the Laserwriter to the same network to get it to work. And for most people, that would be the most flexible and best way.

Now, that said – if your iMac doesn’t have a working network interface or there’s a particular reason why you want the traffic between the PC and this printer to stay off the main network (and have its own point-to-point network), conceptually the adapter would be helpful, and it may be possible to get this to work simply by connecting the adapter directly to the iMac and then a cat5 cable between the adapter and the Laserwriter. The trick will be network configuration. I don’t know exactly what network configuration capabilities the old Apple Laserwriters have (I assume they don’t have zeroconf or similar), so you’d have to have enough technical savvy to assign both devices static IP addresses to get them talking directly to each other.

So again - short answer, probably not what you’re looking for, unless you’re network savvy and really want to have a separately configured network connection between your computer and a network-capable device.

Thanks again for the question!


I have a usb printer. And a four port RJ45 10/100 gigabit router connected to a cable modem. And two macs connected to the router. I want to add a printer to one of the ethernet slots in the router to make it available to both my computers. I am inside the 10.5 window. Though will be upgrading at some point. Applying the IP manually doesnt look terribly hard. Would this do the trick?


Hi Dusty,

Thanks for posting! What you’re looking for is a “USB print server”. A “USB network adapter” like ours is a simpler USB device that adds an additional network interface to a full-fledged computer. It requires a driver to run on that computer. It’s a male USB Type A connector to plug into the computer on one side, and an RJ45 (network connector) on the other.

The “USB print server” is more complicated. It must act like a USB host and a print server, allowing a USB print device to connect to it, and then have all the network smarts to make that print device visible on the network to all the other devices. It would have a *female* USB Type A connector on one side, to accept the connection from the printer, and an RJ45 network connector on the other side.

Here are some examples of some USB print servers:…

Hope that helps clear up any confusion! Please let us know if you have any follow-up questions.

Thanks again for posting,