How I fixed my Mac when it said "Error while printing"

Date: 2011-04-27 19:01:33 Created: 2011-04-27 14:57:05

A while ago, my Imac at work, which is running the latest Snow leopard, started giving me the message "Error while printing" every time I tried to print. It did not matter which application it was, which format I used or which printer I tried. Nor did it matter if I tried re-setting the printing system nor removed and re-installed printers and drivers. Printers were discovered on the network, added just fine, could be queried for status and settings and so on. But no actual printing, just "Error while printing".

It was time to hit Google. Unfortunately, this turned out to be one of those annoying problems which quite a few people had reported but few had actually found (or at least published) a solution for. While at work I got so far as to try an application called Print therapy. It ran a whole range of checks on printing-related systems and files and could perform a whole range of repairs and maintenance tasks, all of which seemed to go well and none of which solved my problem.

There was one little clue however, one which I did not really think about it until I found a response to a troubled poster in an archived discussion on Apple's support forums. The clue was: one of the checks in Print therapy reported that two files were missing:

/usr/share/cups/mime/apple.convs
and
/usr/share/cups/mime/apple.types

The poster had noticed that message, transfered the two files from another Mac and boom, got it working!

With all the excitement I could manage for troubleshooting of printing, I remoted to my Imac from home (Back to my Mac works surprisingly well for me) and copied the two files from my Macbook air into the right place.

The easiest way to get into /usr/share/cups/mime/, by the way, is to open Terminal, type
cd /usr/share/cups/mime
hit enter, then type
open .
and hit enter again. A Finder window will pop up displaying the folder. You will have to enter your password to be allowed to place the files in the folder as well.

As close to breathlessly as I could get, I fired up Pages and hit print.

Well darn.
It worked.