Connecting an Older Printer to USB in Windows XP

I recently published a post titled What is USB? where I briefly mentioned the problem of new computers only have USB ports. For many this may not seem like a problem, but for those that have devices that don’t use USB, this can be a problem.

For those with older printers that connect only to the parallel port, and you would still like to use that printer, I will provide instructions on how you can connect that old printer to the USB port in this post.

Parallel to USB

Connecting an older parallel printer to a USB is fairly easy to do, in fact it is very similar to connecting a printer to the parallel port. Before we begin you will need to purchase a parallel-to-USB cable to replace your old cable. This cable will connect the printer to the computer. You can usually find this type of cable at any computer store.

Once you have the cable, follow these instructions to setup the printer:

  1. Connect the larger parallel connector of the cable into the printer, and the USB connector into a USB port on your computer.
  2. Turn on the printer.
  3. Click Start->Settings->Printers and Faxes. The Printers and Faxes window should open and display a list of devices.
  4. Double-click the Add Printer icon.
  5. Click Next at the Welcome screen.
  6. Add Printer Welcome
  7. Since you will be installing a local printer, click Next to continue.
  8. Add Printer Welcome
  9. The next screen will ask you which port the printer is connected to on your computer. Click the Use the following port drop-down and select USB001 (Virtual printer port for USB). If you don’t get this window, don’t worry you can specify the port later. Click Next to continue.
  10. Add Printer Welcome
  11. You will now need to specify the manufacturer and printer model. Form the Manufacturer list select the company that made your printer. Once you select the manufacturer, select the printer model on the right. In my example I have selected HP LaserJet 5L. Click Next to continue.
  12. Add Printer Welcome
  13. Now you need to specify a name for the printer. You can accept the default or give it another name.
  14. Add Printer Welcome
  15. It will ask you to print a test page. Go ahead and try to see if you can print to the printer. Click Next to continue.
  16. Add Printer Welcome
  17. The summary of the printer being installed is displayed on the screen. Click Finish to complete the installation. If you specified to print a test page, it will print now.
  18. Add Printer Welcome
  19. If you test page didn’t print, right-click the printer in the Printers and Faxes window (see step 3), and select Properties.
  20. Click the Ports tab.
  21. In the list of ports, scroll down to the bottom and select USB001 and click Apply. This will set your printer up on the virtual printer port for USB instead of the old standard LPT1.
  22. Click the General tab and then the Print Test Page button to try printing a test page.


This post provided step-by-step instructions for installing an older parallel port printer on a USB port. All you need to do is connect the printer to a USB port using a parallel-to-USB cable and follow the steps in the Add Printer screens. If the printer still won’t print, check to ensure you have specified the virtual printer port for USB as the printer port.

9 Responses to “Connecting an Older Printer to USB in Windows XP”

  1. james says:

    It was really helpful. I want to deeply appreciate you for your kind and easy-to-follow direction. Thank you so much.

  2. Jose Perez says:

    if you are going to use third party USB cables, makes sure that they have the RU or UL mark for best performance.”:”

  3. Becky says:

    Hi. I have an old Canon bjc-240 and a laptop. I bought a new cable to go from parallel to USB and when I plug it in it installs itself, but doesn’t work properly. I uninstalled it and its driver twice, and reinstalled (once plug n play, and once manually). It always says its connected to USB001 virtual printer port. we don’t have windows office. We’re running xp and write in wordpad. I’m trying to print and I only get the first few lines of the page, and then it pushes the paper out and goes for a new one. The second “page” is not a continuation. It picks up further down the document. Is this a spooler problem? We’re thinking that the USB is sending info faster than the printer can manage it. We do have the latest driver for our printer. Any help would be much appreciated.


  4. Pete says:

    Brlliant. Easy to follow instructions. Did not print at first just a note on this part:
    ‘If the printer still won’t print, check to ensure you have specified the virtual printer port for USB as the printer port’
    when i checked the virtual printer port it was already occupied so could not apply, i clicked on the empty vertual priter port above . clicked apply and the test page then printed. The cable came with a driver.
    Thanks for your help

  5. DARSHAN SINGH says:

    Printer did not work.

    Send some suggestions. or softwares

  6. Bill Graber says:

    Excellent – easy to follow – worked first time

  7. Paul says:

    I haven’t tried that, but I don’t see why you couldn’t.

    You could also connect your printer to another USB port to create a second USB virtual printer port.

  8. Chris says:

    Good to know, but what if you already have a USB printer installed on the USB001 port and would like to add another USB printer?

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