So Many Options for Apple Users
A decade or so ago, few printers offered compatibility with Apple computers, but now we live in a happier age. Most new printers and all-in-one printers (AIOs) ship with OS X (and now, macOS Sierra) drivers, and many that don't provide them on disc allow you to download Mac drivers during the installation process. Mac-connected printers support most of the printing and AIO features you can access on a Windows machine. (Any features not usable with Macs are usually detailed on the printer manufacturer's website.)
How We Test
We perform our printer testing on a Windows 10 testbed rather than a Mac, but in ad-hoc testing we have found that printing to the same printer from similarly configured Mac and Windows computers tends to yield very similar print speeds. Nearly all printer manufacturers today provide support for Mac users. Thus, a list of the best models for Macs largely mirrors an overall list of the best printers out there.
One item worth mentioning is the Bonjour protocol, Apple's implementation of zero-configuration networking, which is built into macOS Sierra, all OS X versions going back to 10.2, and iOS (and can be installed on Windows, Linux, and BSD systems as well). Bonjour allows users to quickly discover devices, including printers, on their networks. (It is also what lets AirPrint identify compatible printers on a LAN.) You can set up a printer without Bonjour, but its presence simplifies the task. Nearly all new network printers are Bonjour compatible, though very old routers may not support it.
Who Needs a Mac-Friendly Printer?
Macs are widely used by publishing professionals and graphic artists who rely on Adobe programs, such as Illustrator, to ensure the best output quality. Illustrator, as well as Photoshop and Acrobat, are optimized for Adobe's own PostScript printing language. You can print graphical material with text made in these programs from non-PostScript printers, but at a potential loss of quality, including occasional dropped elements and formatting. For any business that prints a lot of graphics, a printer with a PostScript driver (or at least PostScript emulation) is a big plus. PostScript has been a staple of the graphic arts since its inclusion with the Apple LaserWriter printer launched the desktop publishing revolution in the mid-1980s.
Many specialty printers are Windows-only. This is especially true of label printers (those that are able to connect to a computer at all). A few good exceptions are the Epson LabelWorks LW-600P Portable Label Printer and two Editors' Choice models, the Dymo LabelWriter 450 Turbo and the Brother P-touch PT-P700. Some recent 3D printers, such as the MakerBot Replicator+, work with Macs as well as Windows machines; check the manufacturer's specs for Mac support when shopping for a 3D printer.
How to Print From Your iPad
With iPads now commonplace in many homes and offices, there are several solutions to print from your tablet. The one most users will rely on is Apple's own AirPrint utility. which is built into all iOS versions since 4.2. This allows a Wi-Fi-connected iPad to communicate with a compatible printer on the same network. If your printer doesn't support AirPrint, there are several third-party utilities, including Printopia and Presto, you can download to your desktop. These effectively make your printer AirPrint compatible. Another alternative is to use a printing app, such as Samsung Mobile Print or Epson iPrint. When using these apps, your iPad and printer will need to be on the same network. Other solutions include cloud printing (sending your documents to a cloud server which then sends them to your printer) and email printing, which assigns an email address to your printer which you in turn use to print from your iPad by sending an email to your printer.
Which Mac Printer Is Right For You?
Below are our top-rated Mac-friendly printer picks. This roundup includes a generous selection of PostScript printers, as well as some non-PostScript models capable of high-quality graphics and/or photo output. But because many Mac users use their computers for tasks unrelated to graphic arts, we also present some top-notch general-purpose printers here. By and large, the qualities that make a Mac-compatible printer great are the same things that let any printer stand out from the crowd: a winning combination of features, speed, and print quality at a competitive price. For more, check out our top overall printer picks, as well as our favorite wireless and portable printers, top inkjet printers, and best-reviewed laser printers.
%displayPrice% at %seller% The Brother HL-L2300D's small size and excellent paper handlingwith a 250-sheet tray, manual feed, and duplexershould be at the top of your list for a personal monochrome laser printer. Read the full review
%displayPrice% at %seller% The Canon Maxify iB4120 Wireless Small Office Inkjet Printer is inexpensive, but provides generous paper capacity, competitive running costs, solid speed, and excellent output quality. Read the full review
%displayPrice% at %seller% Aimed at the moderately serious photo enthusiast, the Canon Pixma iP8720 Wireless Inkjet Photo Printer offers a low initial price and the ability to print at up to 13 by 19 inches. Read the full review
%displayPrice% at %seller% The Canon Pixma TS8020 Wireless Inkjet All-in-One Printer has excellent photo and text quality, and is unusually fast at printing photos. Read the full review
%displayPrice% at %seller% Although the Dell Color Smart Multifunction Printer S3845cdn is pricey, its speed, print quality, and low running costs make it an excellent color laser all-in-one for your micro or small office. Read the full review
%displayPrice% at %seller% If you need a multifunction printer that includes PCL or PostScript support, the Epson WorkForce Pro WF-5690 is an excellent fit for moderate to heavy-duty printing in a micro or small office. Read the full review
%displayPrice% at %seller% The HP Officejet Pro 8620 e-All-in-One delivers almost any feature you could want in an inkjet multifunction printer for a micro, small, or busy home office. Read the full review
%displayPrice% at %seller% The HP PageWide Enterprise Color 556dn is a fast inkjet printer that produces laser-quality text and terrific-looking graphics at very low costs for its class. Read the full review
%displayPrice% at %seller% The HP PageWide Pro 552dw Printer uses inkjet technology, but competes directly with lasers designed for small to midsize offices. It delivers excellent speed, ample paper capacity, and laser-quality text. Read the full review
%displayPrice% at %seller% The Xerox WorkCentre 6515/DNI provides above-par output quality, solid speed, and a thorough feature set for an all-in-one color laser-class printer. Read the full review