Canon PIXMA MX870 and macOS Catalina

When I upgraded to macOS Catalina I didn't expect to lose the ability to print in duplex / grayscale, or to lose the ability to scan via Preview. Here's what it took to revive my MX870.

Short Form

Install the Canon Inkjet Utilities and use them to configure your printer as a network (not USB) scanner and printer.

More Detail

If you discover that your USB-connected MX870 doesn't appear as a scanner under Catalina, and that it no longer honors requests to print duplex and/or greyscale, try the following.

  1. Go to the Canon Support Page for the MX870.
  2. Click the Drivers & Downloads link.
  3. Read "There is no driver for the OS Version you selected. The driver may be included in your OS or you may not need a driver."
  4. Cry a little.
  5. Select the software tab, and download "Canon IJ Network Tool Ver.4.7.2".
  6. Install the software.
  7. Launch Applications / Canon Utilities / IJ Network Tool.
  8. Follow the instructions to configure the MX870 as a WiFi-connected scanner.
  9. With the printer turned on, open System Preferences > Printers & Scanners.
  10. Click '+' at bottom left to add a new device.
  11. Wait for a long time (30+ seconds?) for the MX870 to appear as an available printer.
  12. Select it and add it.

Catalina and First-Time MX870 Setup

The steps above should work on a Mac that had configured an MX870 printer before being upgraded to Catalina. What about Catalina Macs that are trying to set up an MX870 for the first time?

I'm less certain about everything that follows, so let's switch from imperative ("Do this") to narrative ("Here's what I tried").

Once the MX870 was working again on the Mac that had been upgraded to Catalina, I tried to set it up on a Catalina Mac on which no printers had ever been configured.

At first I couldn't even see the printer on the network. It wouldn't appear even after I installed and launched Applications / Canon Utilities / IJ Network Tool.

Share the Printer?

After much banging around I decided to share the printer from the first Mac. When I tried to add this shared printer to the new Mac, its "Use:" menu showed "Generic Postscript Printer", and a disclaimer: ...may not let you use all the features...

Generic Postscript Printer

Install Old Printer Drivers?

Frustration mounting, I went digging through /Library on the first Mac. Maybe its configuration had succeeded because it still had an old MX870 printer driver installed.

Sure enough, I found a compressed CUPS PPD file from August 2016: /Library/Printers/PPDs/Contents/Resources/CanonIJMX870series.ppd.gz

I copied this file to the same location on the new Mac, then tried to add the shared printer again. This time I selected "Select Software..." from the "Use:" menu.

Select Software

The resulting "Printer Software" window showed an entry for Canon MX870 Series. I selected it.

A dialog appeared, saying that I needed to download updated printer software from Apple. I confirmed that I wanted to download the updated software.

Several minutes later I tried again to install the printer and scanner. This time the WiFi-configured scanner appeared right away in the "Add" dialog.

Bonjour Scanner

About a half-minute later, the WiFi-configured printer also appeared. I added both, ensuring that "Use:" showed something other than a Generic Postscript device.

Network Printer Appears


I wish I had taken better notes. Anyone trying to follow this procedure to add an MX870 for the first time on a Catalina system will probably hit lots of snags. Still, I hope these scribblings provide useful clues.

I also wish I knew how to prompt a Catalina Mac to install "updated printer software" without first seeding /Library/Printers/PPDs. Apple's old Canon printer/scanner drivers disk image contains the missing PPD files, so maybe it suffices to install that package.


It was such a relief, after searching Amazon, B&H Photo Video, and Best Buy websites for a new printer, to discover that a previously configured MX870 is still usable under Catalina.

For Catalina Macs that have never added an MX780 printer before, I think the trick is to start by installing Apple's old Canon Printer Drivers. Then connect the printer via USB; install Canon's "Canon IJ Network Tool Ver.4.7.2"; and use Applications / Canon Utilities / IJ Network Tool to configure the device for use over WiFi.

Canon MX870 System Prefs
Ready to scan and print