Driver Update Software

How to Use Your Old Printers in Vista

Filed under: Device Drivers 

The problem many people have with new operating systems is that they need to replace their hardware. Even if the basic computer specifications are adequate for the new operating system, there is always some device that is not compatible with the new OS, or no drivers are available.

Windows Vista is no exception, a lot of older hardware is not supported under Vista and Windows 7 for that matter. Even if there is no direct conflict, new drivers simply are not created. Printers are a classic example of this problem, the printer is working fine, but Vista has no support for it.

The first step is of course to check if there are compatible drivers available for the printer. But if that fails, then what?

Use Old Printer Drivers

When you are upgrading from Windows XP to Windows Vista or Windows 7, you do have the Windows XP compatible drivers for the printer. These however might not be compatible with Vista or Windows 7. Maybe they are not signed, or do not have the right driver architecture.

So how do we tell Vista to allow the use of these old printer drivers? Well that is possible by a change in the group police editor.

Follow these steps to change the group policy settings:

  1. In the Run box at the Start menu, type GPEDIT.MSC and press Enter. This will start the Local Group Policy Editor.
  2. In the Local Group Policy Editor, under Computer Configuration, select Administrative Templates.
  3. Then select Printers.
    Vista local group policy editor
  4. In the righ-hand panel, right-click the entry called “Disallow installation of printers using kernel-mode drivers“, and in the popup menu select Properties.
  5. In the new dialog box, select the Disabled radio button, and click OK.
  6. Close the Local Group Policy Editor and then restart your computer.

After the reboot, you should be able to install the old drivers for your printer. The kernel-mode drivers have a more direct level of access to the OS, and as a result can do more harm if something is wrong with the driver, so make sure you have a reliable set of drivers for your printer.

If Vista does not allow you to execute the driver installation program, make sure to use these tips from Microsoft.

Of course there are other options that will allow you to keep using your old printer in Vista (or Windows 7). You can use a Virtual Machine, like Virtual PC, VMWare, etc. to create an XP instance on your Vista or Windows 7 system and install the printer there. Another option is to use a second computer, install XP on that, install the printer, and then connect through the network with that computer.
HP even keeps a list of alternate printer drivers for some older HP printer models that can be used under Windows 7.
All viable options, but they do demand you know a bit of computing and you definitely need to ask yourself whether the printer is still worth it…


20 Comments to “How to Use Your Old Printers in Vista”

  1. Pan says:

    Is there a way to use this for Vista Home Premium version? I have an old HP that still works that I want to use with Vista 64. Thanks

  2. Anthony says:

    @Pan – The screen shot is actually from Windows Vista Home Premium. The solution does not depend on the Vista edition.


  3. chris says:

    Hello Anthony,
    is it named gpedit.msc or gredit.msc ? On my Vista Business PC I have to input gpedit.msc and it works, but in Vista Home Premium both does not work, Do you have any idea ?


  4. Anthony says:

    @Chris – Thanks for the correction, it really needs to be GPEDIT.MSC, I have corrected the article.
    YOu say ‘it’ does not work on the Vista Home Premium version. Do you mean the GPEDIT.MSC command or the use of the old printer driver?


  5. I tried this for my NEC Superscript 870 and it just would not recognize the driver. It’s a shame to waste a perfectly good printer and fill the landfill that much more. Damn capitalism!

  6. Anthony says:

    @Steve – Before you dispose of it….
    Did you try the HP Laserjet IIP driver? Also have a look at comment 11 in the following link:

    Hope you get to use it with Vista.


  7. I have Vista Home Premium and when I type GPEDIT.MSC in RUN, it says “Windows cannot find GPEDIT.MSC. Make sure you typed it correctly.” HELP! PLEASE.

  8. Andy says:

    Nice tip. But also consider simply installing the XP drivers in Vista using the Vista compatibility mode. Many XP drivers can be installed in Vista that way and work fine.

  9. Ed Garner says:

    Very good tip. It worked with an Epson R300 and Windows 7. This is going to save a lot of printers as XP is phased out. The information needs to be distributed more broadly.


  10. KENT says:

    Hello Andy, My version of vista home does not recognize the GPEDIT.MSC command. I explored the entire windows but no Local Group Policy Editor, Computer Configuration, and Administrative Templates were found. Please help!

  11. Anthony says:

    @KENT – That might be true for the Home editions, so that will not work unfortunately. Have you tried Andy’s tip to use the compatibility mode to install the old driver?

  12. KENT says:

    @Anthony, I came across the different solution that worked out! First, open the printers under the control panel, and then delete the current hp printer. Stay on the tab, add a new local printer and choose the usb printer port and then select a driver for hp 830/832c printer from the vista’s driver selections. The driver works great and the printer has a new lease on life! I almost buy the new printer on ebay auction another day.

  13. Jim says:

    I realize this is an old thread, but I have the same problem as Geneva Yadav (I have Vista Home Premium and when I type GPEDIT.MSC in RUN, it says “Windows cannot find GPEDIT.MSC. Make sure you typed it correctly.” HELP! PLEASE.) and I find no answer for her query. Is ther an answer?
    Thank you.

  14. Anthony says:

    @Jim – Don’t worry about old thread or not, all comments on PCauthorities get attention!
    Regarding your question, yes, not all editions of Windows Vista have the group policy editor installed, so it might not work on the Home Premium version this way.
    But in Vista most XP drivers van often still be used. Have you tried running the XP installer in compatibility mode?
    If you can let me know the printer brand and model, I might be able to give you more advise.

  15. Angus says:

    Hi Anthony..I have this Win XP SP3 before on my desktop, then upgraded to Win 7 Professional. I did this gpedit.msc tweak because my Riso printer driver cant be installed. But I still get this error message in my Win 7. Any more advise?

  16. Anthony says:

    @Angus – What error message are you getting exact?
    Have you tried right-clicking the printer driver install application and in the popup menu select “Run as administrator”?

  17. HelpEverHurtNever says:

    For those of you who are using HP810C 810C or HP 810 C (printer / driver) a workaround might be to use HP Deskjet 812c.. I am yet to test this, but I read a note from another contributor that this works, elsewhere on the web. I uncertain if I can post a reference link to that contribution. I will post my results later.

  18. HelpEverHurtNever says:

    The referenced link to my earlier post… hope it gets published.

    You have to download the driver through Windows 7 add printer “windows update” option.

  19. HP T65xi ForEver says:

    Kent, from comment #13, I wish I could grab you by the ears and kiss you on both cheeks! (I know, you’re probably glad I can’t!) Using the USB port worked! I had done this in the past using the Ancient Printer registry tweak for Vista Home (LOCAL MACHINE/Policies/SOftware/Windows NT/Printers/KMPrinters are blocked) asked by Craig McKay, but I recently had to restore my computer and that fix wasn’t working this time. But when I followed your steps, it worked! The printer wizard defaults to the LPT1 port, so I used the dropdown to select the USB option. I use the HP R65 driver, so the driver might not have to be the range you specify, but hey, who cares about that? Thank you!!!

  20. […] in Safe Mode, you can try to fix your spooler problems by deleting the spooler printer and printer driver files. To do this, launch Windows Explorer and delete the files in the following two […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.