Setting printer defaults in macOS CUPS


I have experienced a couple of issues printing with the Ricoh printer drivers for macOS - at one location, I simply couldn't print, and at another, I couldn't get it to print "two-sided" (despite the correct duplex settings). In both cases, I reverted to the standard macOS driver, i.e. "Generic PostScript Printer" or "Generic PCL Laser Printer". This post details the steps to set printer defaults like duplex via CUPS.

In macOS, one would typically create Printer Presets with your desired defaults. In addition, one could check if there are any settings under System Preferences > Printer and Scanners > Options & Supplies.... However, for the Generic PostScript Printer, the settings are rather sparse - only one option to enable duplex printing in my case:

System Preferences Printer Options and Supplies Duplex Printing Unit

Hidden deep in the guts of macOS, there is another way to set defaults like duplex printing, or set up separator pages and so on, as I found on the Apple Forum. These settings are buried in the CUPS printing sub-system.

Configuring the Generic Printer Driver in CUPS

First, open up Terminal and enter cupsctl WebInterface=yes. If it works, there is no output from this command!

Next, fire up Safari to http://localhost:631/printers and select your printer from the list. In the printer summary page, leave the first drop down as Maintenance, select Set Default Options in the second:

macOS Sierra 10.12 CUPS 2.2.0 Generic PostScript Printer Set Default options

Among the functions available apart from Maintenance are Print Test Page, Print Self Test Page, and Cancel All Jobs.

Now you can go ahead and changes to the various options, and hit Set Default Options to save them. If you are prompted for a username / password, use your macOS login which has Admin rights (has "Allow user to administer this computer" checked):

  • The Options Installed page has Duplex Print Unit set to Installed (because I already set it in System Preferences)
  • In the General page, I set the Duplex option to 2-Sided, Long-Edge Binding, Media Size to A4
  • Under BannersStarting Banner is confidential or any other cover page.

CUPS Generic Printer Options InstalledCUPS Generic Printer GeneralCUPS Generic Printer Banners

If you are using the PCL driver, the options may differ slightly.

Finally, you can go ahead and disable the CUPS web interface again via the Terminal command cupsctl WebInterface=no.

Configuring via the Manufacturer's Driver in CUPS

Just for comparison, the Ricoh driver has many, many more settings, in CUPS and in the Printer Presets and System Preferences pages (but I still have problems with duplex printing - don't ask me why):

CUPS Ricoh Printer Options InstalledCUPS Ricoh Printer General


So that's how to set the CUPS printer preferences in macOS. Most users won't need this, and is interesting only tech-heads like me!