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How to transfer and restore your Mac printer settings

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If you have carefully-calibrated printer presets on OS X and you want to transfer them to a new computer, or reinstall your operating system and restore them, Apple makes it much more difficult than it needs to be.

For macOS Sierra, suggestions you find online — to run killall on cfprefsd, to remove and reinstall printers, etc. — are either out-of-date or never worked originally.  Here is the only method I've found that works.

  1. Make copies of every plist file in in ~/Library/Preferences/ that begins with the prefix com.apple.print.
  2. Set up your new computer.
  3. Open System Preferences from the Apple Menu, choose "Printers & Scanners", and Control-click on the "Printers" panel at the left. That will bring up a "Reset printing system…" option. Select that, confirm, then close System Preferences.

  4. Copy all your plist files to your new ~/Library/Preferences/ directory.
  5. Open System Preferences to the printer setttings again, and press the + button in the left panel to add each of your printers.

Your presets should now work as before.

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