HP ScanJet on Mac OS X (or any scanner, for that matter)

December 30, 2008

Using a USB legacy scanner for Mac OS X can be accomplished with this set of TWAIN/SANE tools based on the SANE implementation for *NIXes.

Since it took me a while to find what I needed to get my old HP ScanJet 5470c to work on Mac OS X (10.5), I wanted to post this link accompanied by some of the keywords for scanners that others may use (so they’ll have an easier time finding it on search engines):


This site lists several binary packages which should make your scanner work for you, too … after you installed them in the following order:

  1. gettext
  2. libusb
  3. SANE backends (installs all, even though you may only need the HP 54XX one)
  4. SANE Preference Pane
  5. TWAIN SANE Interface

After installing all these, go to the SANE Preference Pane and disable all the backends you don’t need (at least that’s what I did; it works for me, but I don’t know if it’s necessary). Next I clicked on Configure and then OK; without this step, apparently, the SANE/TWAIN interface is not activated. After closing the preference pane and entering my password to store the settings, I opened Image Capture. A preview dialog popped up and my already connected scanner did a quick preview scan. From there I was able to scan the document on the flatbed.

If this does not happen for you, make sure your scanner is properly connected. By going to the Apple Menu > About This Mac > More Info, you get access to the System Profiler. One of the last entries in the left column under hardware should be USB. After selecting this entry, the right panel should show the USB Device Tree. Make sure your scanner shows up in that list.

If that still does not help, try restarting your Mac, although that should not be necessary.

I presume this works for pretty much any scanner listed in SANE’s Supported Devices List, but it may be of particular interest for legacy devices such as:

Hewlett-Packard ScanJet 2100c, 2200c, 2300c, 3300c, 3400c, 3500c, 3530c, 3570c, 3800c, 3970c, 4070 Photosmart, 4100c, 4200c, 4200cse, 4200cxi, 4300c, 4300c Silitek, 4370c, 5200c, 5300c, 5370c, 5400c, 5470c, 5490c, 5550c, 5590c, 6200c, 6250c, 6300c, 6350c, 6390c, 7400c, 7450c, 7490c, 7650c, 8200c, 8250c, 8290c, G3010

Update: Some people have commented with problems on Snow Leopard. One commenter suggested that VueScan works, but it’s not free. You can probably find a used scanner that does work on craigslist for less than what VueScan costs.


97 Responses to “HP ScanJet on Mac OS X (or any scanner, for that matter)”

  1. Dave Says:

    Thank you very much. Your directions got my old campus HP Scanjet 6300c working with my newer laptop even though HP no longer supports the drivers. I was going to pitch the scanner today but decided to give it one more chance. Thanks for making my work from home a little easier and for making the world a little greener.

  2. Michelle Says:

    Thanks so much – I’ve been periodically searching and meanwhile keeping an old emac that runs OS9 – just to use my HP5470c scanjet scanner. Now we can use Image Capture and also Photoshop to scan. Much appreciated.

  3. Jim Says:

    Thank you very much – you just saved my sanity.

  4. Tom Says:

    Another thank you – I can now use my old HP 4200c scanner. Really didn’t want to spend money on a new scanner, so this is great!

  5. jasreet Says:

    thanks man. i found a hp 6300c in the trash and now it work on my mac so 10 thanks to you

  6. Steve Smith Says:

    Thanks for putting this together; other instruction on sane is pretty sparse.

    “After installing all these, go to the SANE Preference Pane and disable all the backends you don’t need”

    How do I get to the SANE Preference Pane?


  7. Chava79 Says:

    Thanks for your help! I was appalled when I tried to go through the HP website for the Mac driver and would have had to pay over $10 to order a CD. This installation worked for me and I was able to use it in Microsoft Word (Mac version) to import my scans as a picture. Thanks again!

  8. christine Says:

    I have followed your suggested installation, and have checked to see if my scanner HP 5370c is properly connected and is, and when it did not work – restarted – and opened Image Capture again. However, the scanner is not there. Also checked in Photoshop and it is not available. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    • TJ Says:

      In System Preferences, there is a SANE Preference pane that allows you to select back-ends to be used. Try the “avision” one instead of any of the HP and see whether that helps. Sorry for the late reply.

  9. Thanks from me too…. got my 5470c going easy as pie.

  10. Enrico Says:

    Hi, i tiried to use this tutorial whit SnowLeopard, the scanner is recognized but after the preview scansion it don’t do nothing, say scanning but nothing no sound/rumors from the scanner.. any solution?! thanks a lot

    • TJ Says:

      I am about to upgrade to Snow Leopard and will let you know what I can find out.

      • Michael L Says:

        I’ve got the same problem with MacBook Pro and Snow Leopard 10.6.2 / SANE and a HP3530C – Its driving me mad – can’t find the solution! Has anyone seen and solved this problem. I’ve tried different programs ( ImageCapture, Acrobat etc ) but get the same issue. The scan starts ( scanner scans very slowly tho ) but then no image appears and the software hangs ( I’m presuming waiting for something from the scanner )

  11. crin Says:

    Great advice! Got my hp scanjet 5470c working, except I can’t get the XPA (transparency adaptor) to work…
    Any ideas?

  12. BG Says:

    tried the procedure to connect my HP scanjet 2100C on my iMAC + Snow Leopard.

    Seen in the system profile. installed the SANE packages. Can’t seem to get to “image capture”. Is it located anywhere in particular ?

  13. Bryan White Says:

    I have the TWAIN program working with my scanjet 5470c and have disabled all others in the SANe preferences (not east to find for a non mac-user). It will scan fine with 75dpi, but if I try to scan at a higher resolution, it just zooms in on a smaller section of the scan surface. Thus, if I try to scan at 150, it will only allow me to see a maximum of 1/4 of my page. If I scan at 300, only 1/8. I can still crop areas as usual on the higher dpi, but it is cropped from the 1/4 screen. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


  14. A VanderMolen Says:

    Successful with the install.
    Image Capture sees 5470c.
    Scanner will scan(Overview) but no image.
    Can not set any of the scan parameters.
    Can not do a scan (ghosted).
    OSX 10.4.11

  15. Dale Sherbourne Says:

    Used with Hp Scanjet 5370c
    Imac 2.8 GHz Intel
    OS 10.6.2 Snow Leopard
    No go with Image Capture and Sane crashes GraphicConverter 6.6
    but VueScan 8.6 seems to work
    The Scanner is found on the usb bus
    Now how do I uninstall all of those files

  16. Clemens Says:

    Thank you so much! The stupid HP support page should link to your post, or at least mention the SANE stuff…

    You saved my ass 🙂

  17. elrpincipito Says:

    worked fine for me too! HP Scanjet, Mac OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) using hp drivers from SANE Preference pane.

  18. Colin Shepherd Says:

    Searched extensively for this solution for my legacy HP 5470c scanner for several years before tossing it away. Your post saved my investment. Couldn’t install the OS X 10.5 version of gettext but installed everything else and all works great.

    Any ideas on a Mac OCR solution?

    But really! Thanks a million for this.

  19. toe Says:

    obviously sane authors fixed the snow leopard bug!
    please update the initial post.
    (mac os 10.6, hp scanjet 4200c, sane installstuff)

  20. Fernando Says:

    Hi Mindful,
    Nice job! But it didn’t work for me…hpscanjet3670 and SnowLeopard10.6.2. But…guess what: I found this link which gave a driver thar worked


    Follow to the letter and get a good surprise.

    All the best,

  21. Fernando Says:

    By the way, Image Capture doesn’t work for me, only ScanVue or HP’s software. Cheers.

  22. olezhe Says:

    Thenk you very mach from Moscow! I have HP SJ 5470c, and now it work.

  23. sch Says:

    I was able to get this package to almost connect to my old HP scanner but the downside is it all but diables my optical USB mouse which i need more. uninstalling worked except now periodically my mouse freezes up, requiring unplugging/re-plugging to get it to reset. anyone else xperience this and how can i get it resolved?

  24. notyouravedame Says:

    Thank you so much for posting this! I tried it and it worked right away, but then it stopped working and kept saying that a session couldn’t be started. I reinstalled everything and now it’s telling me it can’t even find the scanner. Any suggestions? Thanks so much!

  25. Desmo_Profundis Says:

    Well I’m having the same problems with it as the other HP5470c users. No workie with the XPA and that’s what I really need. Thanks for the help though, I’ll keep working on it and up date this post if I figure it out.

  26. genexd Says:

    Worked great! Very easy to follow. I forgot to power on my scanner before installing so I had to reboot before it started working.

    Thanks again!

  27. Lorne Rideout Says:

    I have a MacBook Pro running Snow Leopard and have an HP 5470c that I’ve been trying to get to work consistently. The HP Scan utility works VERY sporatically.

    I stumbled on your post and solution, and have been attempting to get it up and running. When I tried to install the SANE-BACKENDS-10.6.SDK, I get an error message which states:

    “sane-backends-10.6.sdk can’t be installed on this computer. Please install the Mac OS X 10.6 SDK package before installing the sane-backends 10.6 SDK package”

    When I try to search for a basic ‘Mac OS X 10.6 SDK package’, I have no luck finding one. Can you suggest a solution? Will this solution work without the SANE-BACKENDS installed?



  28. pixarbuff Says:

    Worked beautifully for me! Using Snow Leopard OS 10.6.3 on a 13″ MacBook Pro, with a hp scanjet 2300c. Thanks!

  29. Lucas Says:

    i got 3400C, SANE control panel installed but could not find the backend 😦 ……..PLEASE HELP ………

  30. Mike Says:

    Thanks for the install order! I had no clue. Anyway, I got TWAIN SANE to work with my HP ScanJet 4300c using Image Capture on my iMac running OSX 10.4.11. Just FYI: I had to set image capture to use TWAIN Software. In Image Capture go to Devices > Browse Devices > TWAIN SANE > Click on SANE > and at the bottom of the window click on “use TWAIN software”. It would make my scanner run but not show any image before I did this.

    • Jez Says:

      Thanks for the info on getting TWAIN SANE to work with my HP Scanjet 4300C going on my iBook running OSX 10.5.8…used Image Capture

  31. Lisa Says:

    Just wanted to add another thank you! A friend gave me an old HP 4300C and your directions have got it working like a charm!

    • Andre Says:

      which sane driver did you select?
      I have an 4300C as well

      • spitfire Says:

        Use niash.

        At the below website, scroll down to HP to ScanJet 4300c, it uses niash driver. Select it, there is no configuration options for it. Just close the Preferences, enter the password. Done.

        Once you start Image Capture, follow the instructions that Mike listed to select “use TWAIN software”.

    • mirjam Says:

      dear Lisa,
      I didn’t manage to find the 4300c in the list,
      how did you manage,
      thank in advance mirjam

      • victor Says:

        I dont find 4300C in the list too, so made the following:

        Select hp4200 driver in sane preferences, than click settings for this driver and add following lines to the opened window:

        # HP Scanjet 4300C
        usb 0x03f0 0x0305

        Maybe you will need to reboot.

        This help me, my 4300C now is alive.

  32. mjcmx Says:

    Thank you very much.
    Your advice helped me a lot!
    Grateful for the help!
    Mac OS 10.6.5
    HP Scanjet 2300c
    It’s a work really!!

  33. Jimmy Holcomb Says:

    Thank you for this helpful information. I am trying to use the HP ScanJet 5370C with Transparency Adapter XPA I just acquired. I can scan normally on the flatbed, but the XPA hangs up (scanner light flashes repeatedly). I wondered if there are any updates here that would be helpful. Thank you!

  34. Colleen Says:

    I have an HP ScanJet 4470c and it didn’t seem to work. Any advice?

  35. Lesley Says:

    Thank you, thank you!! After having transitioned from PC to Mac I wasn’t able to get my ancient HP Scanjet 4200c to work on the iMac. The thought of dumping my perfectly functional scanner sickened me. Now, thanks to your instructions, my “olde” scanner works beautifully with my iMac OSX 10.5.8. I’m able to scan at 300 and 600 dpi although limited to 8-bit max, but that’s OK for my present purposes. Thanks again!!

  36. Andre Says:

    Hello, I’ve got an scnajet 4300C, and OS X 10.6.6, but i cant get it to work, i open Image Capture, but no scan is made. any idee wich backbone i need to select?

  37. Andre Says:

    still does not work, do i need to download the sdk file’s or the binary?

  38. Andre Says:

    still does not work, do i need to download the sdk file’s or the binary?
    please help

  39. Peter de Groot Says:

    Dear All,
    Please help me. I have a scanjet 5470c and I want to run it on my mac. I cannot get SANE to work. I have no idea what to do. I have downloaded everything and tried clicking all over the place but nothing “installs”

  40. Elisa Says:

    Hi! Thank you, thank you! This entry made my day! I love you! I had my imac with tiger because i was afraid to never scan! But now i can haha! 🙂 ❤ peace

  41. Christopge Says:

    Just wanted to add another thank you! I m a new comers on Mac and happy to keep my old 3400c working.

    • dee Says:

      i have a 3400c and mine isn’t working, whether through image capture or photoshop! what backend did you leave? i also can’t open the hp3500 option to configure it…

  42. alexandre Says:

    Thank you very very very much!!! People like you really makes difference for the earth. I can make my HP Scanjet 3570c run over Mac OS X 10.6.7 and now I don’t need to waste this machine. I’ll bookmark this page and show for a lot of people from Mac community.

  43. wordhord Says:

    HP 2300c thot lost, now found…THANK-YOU!

  44. frdmfytr Says:

    Its important to point that this does not work for all hp models even if it is listed. you may have to download an alternative if you are having problems still ..


  45. Christiaan Says:

    I have an HP ScanJet 4300c as well, and though I manage to get the software installed an everything, it doesn’t recognize any scanner… Anyone HELP!? Please? =)

    • spitfire Says:

      Use niash back end. Then in Image Capture go to Devices>Browse Devices> a window will open up, in that window select SANE, then look in the bottom left corner of that same window, there will be a box next to Use TWAIN software, put a check mark in the box, click OK, quit Image Capture. Start Image Capture, it will work now.

  46. Sparky II Says:

    I found an HP 5370c scanner at a thrift store in good-as-new condition this weekend. This post is what pointed me in the right direction to get it to work with my new Mac Mini!

    The TWAIN/SANE site has new software for 10.6 Snow Leopard and it worked perfectly.

    THANKS for the tip! I was all ready to go spend real $$$ on a new scanner, but now I have everything I need for a grand total of $20. Most excellent.

  47. Sarah D Says:

    Awesome! Worked well on Mac Mini with 10.6.6.

  48. ildu Says:

    Ok! It works very well whith my scanjet 3400c ant the OSX 10.6.7.


  49. some One Says:

    Thanks a lot! I love brief and concise instructions!

  50. Kristin Says:

    Magic – thanks. Stumbled on this without having to look too far.

  51. Sergio Says:

    Wow!!!!! I can`t believe it!!! Almost lost any hope of solving this problem. Many thanks

    scanjet 5470c
    Mac OS 10.6.7

  52. Soumya Says:

    Yet another big thank you to you for the careful instructions!

    My 15 year old HP Scanjet 5300C had run on Windows only. Today I tried setting it up for the first time with my Leopard MacBook Pro and it worked beautifully. I stumbled initially in choosing the correct driver (5300C not listed explicitly) but it was not hard to find avision after a little reading around in this page.

    To all the above frustrated souls, please go slow and read carefully.

  53. Karen Says:

    Help, will somebody help me do this? I’ve tried and I’m not getting anywhere.

  54. Hi, a client loaned me an HP Scanjet 3970. My Mac (OS 10.6.8) can’t find the scanner. I downloaded the driver/software from HP, then all the packages from the link on this page and nothing is happening. Scanner still not found. USB and power cords are firmly plugged in. Help?

  55. Stephanie S Says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! A friend gave me her HP 6400c and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to use it with my MacBook running Snow Leopard, but now I can. 🙂

  56. dee Says:

    i tried all the HP backends, and tried the avision backend, and still my scanner can’t be detected! it’s an hp 3400c, i’m using leopard 10.5.8, and both my cords are good. what else can i do?

    • dee Says:

      got off my duff and looked it up- for everyone else, try the NIASH backend, it’s meant specifically for the 3400c! (though it still wont work through image capture, you’ll have to use photoshop)

  57. Tony Says:

    Thank you. My hp4370 now scans perfectly on my macbookpro but I can’t scan color slides. When I click on Scan Mode I don’t get any choice but “Flatbed”.

  58. Joe Donnally Says:

    My HP Scanjet 5370c I carried over from my old PC days, and I’ve had it successfully linked to my 2003 eMac through the OS 9 driver download HP provides. (My particular model of eMac being one that supports OS 9). Since the new Intel-chipped Macs arrived though, along with OS X 10.5 and above, I’ve had ZERO luck in finding anything that will connect the Scanjet to the newer OS versions Apple has released.
    My solution ultimately was to take the Snow Leopard-equipped MacBook Pro I had, and through Bootcamp, create a partition on the HD for Windows XP. Now I can connect to pretty much anything for a peripheral device made in the last 10 years with no problem.
    Only drawbacks? I have to take 20 seconds to reboot into OS X after scanning, and retrieve the images from the XP partition – that, and using Windows… but other than those two issues, Simple.


    Hey! what’s about drivers for HP scan jet G2710 for Mac? I’ve buy a Macbook Pro and I want to use my scanner, (and my old printer, HP laser jet 6L). Anybpdy knows if that’s possible, and how?!

  60. Curt Says:

    When I first found this post, the linked site didn’t have Lion drivers. Now it does and my 5470c is up and running. I did have to restart to get it to work.

  61. Jez Says:

    Brillant! got my old HP Scanjet 4300C to work with my Mac iBook OSX 10.5.8 via Image Capture…thanks you heaps!

  62. ange Says:

    Hi, I downloaded everything in the order you mention but cannot see where the Configure and then OK button is I have to push. Can you please help me.

  63. antonio Says:

    its works great for imac 20″ intel core due duo with 10.6!

  64. Nick Says:

    I have a Mac OS X version 10.4.11 and I keep getting this message when trying to install:

    “Wrong version of Mac OS X. This package was compiled for version 10.7.”

    Is my mac too old for this software?

  65. Luís Batista Says:

    takes almost half a hour just to start. but it’s working.

  66. Yavuz Says:

    Hi, Thank you very much for help, my scanner HP4300C works very well now. thanks, I love my macbook :)))

  67. Those of you trying to use a ScanJet 4300C, use the “niash” driver.

  68. Thank you, it works great for my old ScanJet 3400C! Sane is a bit slower than the original Windows driver, but it is much faster than launching Windows for it…

  69. ximena Says:

    Hi! the link is broken, Ive used sane with an older mac 10.4 and my oldie hp3400C. where can i download it from?

  70. Dave Says:

    Thanks for this great page! I’m a MacPorts user; I just did “sudo port install twain-sane”, and everything I needed installed. The built-in OS X “Image Capture” program works like a champ under Snow Leopard with my Scanjet 4100C.

  71. Maria from South America Says:

    Guys like you really make the world a better place, TJ.

    I’ll try to figure out my way through the installation process (i’m no expert on the subject and I have S.Leopard), but in the mean time I’d like to say I’m glad you all exist. You relieve all of us (the rest of the globe population, or at least the ones that are able to find your developments and use them) of the feeling that these greedy companies own us entirely and will suck us dry to our last drop of blood.
    But it isn’t just that…These scanners were all bought 10 ys ago or less, and a lot of them are in general good shape. You are blessed for preventing us from trashing them away just because of some (intentional) gap in copyrighted software. That is a serious green enterprise!!!

  72. I have Windows 2000 runing virtual on my PowerMac G5 and it’s perfect. I run the HP scanjet 5470c there also, because there was no drivers for Mac. But then I so this page and whant to try it on the Mac native instead. I have as a told you, HP Scanjet 5470c and Mac OS X 10.5.8 Leopard on a PowerMac G5 Quad Core 2.5GHz. I’ve done all the installation as told and in right order and then I did the settings in the preference also. Then I restart my Mac. The scanner show’s up in the USB device on my Mac. Good I think, but then I see that the scanner was dead. Couldn’t make it work anymore, even i Windows 2000. Sad there is. Any answers?? Shall the TWAIN SANE drivers damage my scanner?

  73. mykey3000 Says:

    Oy I’d love a “for dummies” version of this. On Mac OSX 10.7 how do I install the tar.gz files? Unfamiliar with Linux language and Terminal commands/changing directories.

  74. lesel Says:

    Mac OS X 10.8.3-ScanJet 4300C
    1. Installed all binarys mentioned above 1-5
    2. Opened system Preferences click Sane
    3. Check only (√ niash) in Drivers in top left tab.
    4. Configure button did not highlight for me.
    5. Go to Print & Scan in System Pref. click + to add new scanner. Select Sane. I rebooted not sure if helped.
    6. Installed VueScan http://www.hamrick.com
    7. Works 100% with VueScan 9. Awesome!

  75. Frank Says:

    Fantastic, now I can REuse my old scanner wich still works perfect, instead of it getting dumped somewehere by my ocal recycling companny. Keep up this good work and keep the faith and some day ppl will see the light …. I hope

  76. Frantz Says:

    Just thanks a lot!!!

  77. macbookuser Says:

    hi i tried a few time to download everything as the instructions says, but the SANE is not appearing on the system preferences.. help anyone?

  78. spitfire Says:

    Thank you very much for this howto!

    I got iBook G3, OS X 10.4.11, HP ScanJet 4300c.

    Like others already pointed out, need to use niash driver in the SANE preferences in the Preferences.

    Tank you Mike for pointing to check the box Use TWAIN software in the Image Capture. That finally made everything work.

  79. mauro pin Says:

    Sadly, my HP 2200C didn’t work with this tutorial — but I also tried a Mustek 1200 UB and it worked, although sometimes my Photoshop crashed while trying to handle the scanner. Neither the Mustek 1200 UB nor HP 2200C appeared under Image Capture, though.

    I can see the HP 2200C listed under the USB group on System Information, but it was no use anyway. It wasn’t available under Photoshop or Image Capture.

    I’m running Maverick 10.9 on a Macbook Pro.

    As I really wanted to use the HP scanner, I’ve also installed Windows XP (since this was the Windows version used when this scanner was around) under Parallels on my Mac. Using drivers downloaded from HP website, I was able to make it work.

    Both HP 2200C and Mustek 1200 UB worked on Windows XP under Parallels.

    Something important!
    Regarding the quality of the images, using Windows drivers it was clear that the images scanned with SANE on Mac OS had a worst result than scanned using the original Windows drivers for the Mustek 1200 UB on Parallels.

    So, for those who — as me — couldn’t make your scanner work properly with SANE, it’s worth trying Parallels. I only use it for this, but until now it is worthy.

    An alternative would be just buying a new flatbed scanner compatible with Mac OS! 🙂

  80. Neil Says:

    Hi. For my HP 4400c, I’ve tried adding the following to the hp or hp4200 backend, without success. Any suggestions?

    # HP Scanjet 4400C
    usb 0x03f0 0x0705

    My Mac can see the scanner in the System Profiler, but vuescan cannot (my “Image Capture” software is somehow corrupt and not working (that’s another issue!).

    Many thanks in advance.

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