Looking for a well-supported printer/scanner (MFD)

I’ve been using a Brother HL-3180CDW for about 3 years and was pretty happy with it until it started acting up a few months ago. First, scanning directly from Preview stopped working: the “Import from Scanner” option under the File menu is permanently grayed out. Rebooting the Mac or the printer does not make a difference, and it’s happening on multiple Macs with different OS versions. Next, printing became extremely slow: it’s taking 15 minutes or more to print a one page PDF document. Finally, some print jobs occasionally are garbled, where there are only a few Dingbat like characters printed on each page.

Needless to say, I’m in the market for a new MFD. The requirements are decent print speed, color, not inkjet (I prefer Laser or LED), and decent support for scanning occasional documents.

I don’t love it, but we have an HP Color LasterJet Pro MFP M477fdw. It has worked fine for flatbed scanning, though I do little of that. And it’s a decent printer, although we sometimes have to fight with it to get it to print. Forcing the Mac to use the PostScript driver rather than the Secure AirPrint driver seems to help. And there was one time recently where it was warming up every 5 minutes; a firmware update eventually solved that.


We have an Epson WorkForce 3640. It does pretty good with both scanning and printing. However, I recently realized I could scan directly into my Mac via my iPhone, and that’s much, much easier.

  • Open Preview
  • Select File->Import from iPhone
  • Select Scan Document in the submenu
  • The scanner on the iPhone opens. Show it at the document. You don’t have to be perfectly level with the document. When the docucment is lined up, it will automatically scan. Skewing is automatically handled.
  • Click Save once the scan is complete.

You now have a scanned document without having to run back and forth between your Mac and the Printer.

Even though my scanner does a good job, I find it easier using my iPhone.

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Speaking of alternatives, on iPhone tap and hold Notes app > Scan Document > Save and then (assuming you sync Notes with iCloud) open Notes on your Mac. Done.

I have an Epson Workforce printer/scanner combo, which was used more as a scanner than a printer (my mom is a musician and scanned her sheet music with it). One day I had a power outage and after that the printer would only display an error code on startup. Research showed the only solution was to send it to Epson for repair. (Difficult, as the thing is a huge tabloid-sized device and weighs 76 lbs.)

The most frustrating thing is that even though it was just the printer part malfunctioning, I could no longer use it as a scanner! Not impressed with that kind of design. This a good warning about caution depending on multi-function devices. (I’ve read reports of some printer brands that disable all functions if you run out of ink, for instance, or won’t let you just print in black if you don’t have a color cartridge installed.)

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The only problem I have is that the scan is embedded in the note.

I use Scanner Pro on my iPhone. It allows me to save and share the scan in its pure form. I scanned my covid vaccination card in it. In case I lose my card, I’ll have the scan as proof.

You can drag the scan from the note into another window. So, if you drag into a Finder window, it will copy a PDF into that location.

I, on the other hand, definitely have a crush on my monochrome HP M428fdw, which replaced a Brother MFP and Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300 (the Brother scanner was used only when I needed a flatbed). The M428fdw has weathered my recent upgrade from Mojave to an M1 Mini and Big Sur with aplomb, and its sheet feeder and Easy Scan desktop software are IMO even better than Fujitsu’s; the driver is kept up to date by the App Store. If I were in the market for color I would get a M479fdw.

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Same here. Love my HP LaserJet Pro M12w. It’s a very simple printer. But it’s reliable and fast and quiet. It didn’t cost a whole lot, neither does toner. And best yet, it was one of the few things that went all the way to Big Sur without single a hitch. :+1: :slight_smile:

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Thanks everybody, lots of good information in this thread, and I learned a bunch of tips and tricks to boot! I had recently read about the ability to scan from the Notes app, but it’s good to know about the additional scanning capabilities of iOS devices.

BTW Joanna Stern did this recent review of printers, focusing on “ink tank” vs. laser.

I have considered these ink tank printers, and I know they do color prints, but are they as good for photos on photographic paper? I have heard from some they are not and all the examples about the printer seem to focus on colorful tables and graphics but not photos

I switched to a HP Color LaserJet Pro MFP M479fdw after my Brother Printer MFC-L8850CDW’s auto feeder started feeding a tad off-center and I’m pretty happy with it.

Gave the old printer to my wife to use until the toner runs out now that she’s working from home.

It’s a tad pricey but I had trouble finding another Brother with all the features I wanted (including iDevice printing), and Brother never bothered updating their work center software for 64 bit (not that the HP’s software is much better than what I’ve been using with the Brother).

This (like the 8850) is a big heavy printer though, so unless you’re looking for a midrange office printer you may want to look elsewhere.

Are you on Big Sur? the brother web site indicates there is a firmware update up to macOS 10.15, and it is not listed as supported in Big Sur.

Since we’re talking about iOS scanning software, I figured I’d mention Adobe Scan. It’s free and it works great. You can also Sign In with Apple so that Adobe doesn’t get your email address.

The logical conclusion of iPhone scanning is here: In the Finder, gear menu > Import from iPhone or iPad scans directly to any folder (I’m on Catalina). Same menu as in Notes, but you get the file directly (processed as a document or simply a photo–or draw a sketch!).

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Absolutely, when you’re near your Mac. What’s nice about using Notes
is that you can scan items when you are away from the Mac and then import the item later.

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I followed the recommendations for the HP family and ordered a Color Laser Jet Pro MFP M479fdw. The software setup was a but klunky on my Mac, but the printer and scanner have been working flawlessly the last few days. Thanks for all the feedback and I learned a few new tricks to boot!

I agree about the “HP Smart” software, Alfred. I haven’t used it since I set the printer up. The separate “HP Easy Scan” app, however is excellent, and may be all you need.