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Installing HP PhotoSmart 1218 on Windows 7

HP photosmart 1218

My HP PhotoSmart 1218 printer made in the year 2000.


HP nor Mircosoft provide a device driver for the ‘hp photosmart 1218‘ inkjet printer with Windows 7 (or 8, …). Below you’ll find out how to work-around the problem and get printing again.


You can safely skip this bit – I include it only for posterity!

A while back – around Christmas 2000 – I bought the HP PhotoSmart 1218 inkjet printer. I brought it with me from the States when I moved to the UK in 2001 (it takes both 110V or 220V, so just a simple plug adapter is all that’s needed to use the USA cord in the UK).

HP PhotoSmart 1218 sticker

My 1218 model number is C8458A and was made on 27 September 2000. Note the power info: 100 to 240 volts input – so will work worldwide with the appropriate power lead.

I used the 1218 until I bought the HP Color LaserJet 2605dn back on 22 August 2006 (I have the receipt!). I gave the 1218 to my mum to use; but when she upgraded her computer to Windows 7, the 1218 stopped working – HP nor Microsoft included its drivers – and so she bought a current model.

Well, as readers of this blog know, the HP 2605 LaserJet isn’t without its problems, namely you have to clean the internal mirrors every couple of years. I’ve done that twice now and am needing to do it again. You can read about how to do the cleaning in the other article I wrote: click HERE.

On a whim, I thought,

“I wonder if someone has found a way to get the 1218 inkjet to work on Windows 7 yet?”

Sure enough, someone had!

So with credit to the people who posted the steps on the HP forum – see below – I have created a step-by-step instruction on how I got my 1218 to work on Windows 7  (I haven’t bothered with upgrading to Windows 8) along with photos and screenshots of each step.


HP support forum posting 1

A question was asked on the HP support forums…

My search for how to make the 1218 work under Windows 7 started and ended at that HP support forum: in THIS conversation thread.

A person calling themselves ‘Jessica_Is_A_PC‘ asked back in October 2009 if there was a way to get the 1218 to install. An HP expert named ‘Bob Headrick‘ said to use the ‘Deskjet 990c’ driver. Another person, calling themselves ‘greydog‘, suggested to use the HP 8400 driver as it supposedly had more ability to control the printer’s capabilities.

HP support forum posting 2

…and some answers were given!

A few years later, on 18 November 2012 to be precise, a person calling themselves ‘HPTestingGuy‘ listed the steps required to install the driver (although it didn’t work for them).

There were a few more postings, all the way up to 28 February 2013, but it looked like HPTestingGuy didn’t succeed in getting his computer to work with the 1218 – although it seems others did have better luck… including me!

So to help HPTestingGuy and you, I have documented each step I did to get the 1218 printing under Windows 7.

A word of warning: these steps may not work for you. I’m sorry if that’s the case. And I cannot guarantee what Windows 7 might do (and certainly have no idea what other versions of Windows will do!). I’m reasonably confident you’ll do okay by these steps; but if you are at all uncertain, perhaps ask a neighbour, friend, your kids or parents to help.


First off – if this helps you, then please consider buying us a beer as a token of your appreciation and to help fund the upkeep of this blog (your money spent wisely on beer for us means our money can be spent wisely on the fees for hosting the blog!). If you want to buy us 2 – or more! – then all the merrier! 🙂


01 Installing drivers - popup

Plug in the HP PhotoSmart 1218 printer (henceforth “1218”) and connect up the USB cable to your Windows 7 computer. You’ll see this dialog pop up near where the time and date are shown.


02 Installing drivers - window

The installation will sort-of work. It may install a ‘USB Printing Support’ driver but the attempt to install a “HPPHOTOSMART 1218” driver will fail: “No driver found”. Welcome to Windows 7 and its lack of support for your printer! Click the ‘Close’ button.


03 Devices and Printers - Start menu

From the Windows (“start”) menu select ‘Devices and Printers’


04 Devices and Printers - photosmart 1218 unspecified

You will see in the listing of devices an ‘Unspecified’ section with a ‘photosmart 1218’ specified (yes, that’s right, an unspecified specified printer – this is Windows logic at its finest!). Right-click on the ‘photosmart 1218’ icon and choose ‘Properties’


05 photosmart 1218 Properties - Hardware

A window called ‘photosmart 1218 Properties’ will appear. Click on the ‘Hardware’ tab at the top of it then highlight the ‘HPPHOTOSMART 1218’ item and click the ‘Properties’ (yes another one!) button.


06 HPPHOTOSMART 1218 Properties - Change settings

Now a window called ‘HPPHOTOSMART 1218 Properties’ will appear. Surprise! Windows tells you that “This device is working properly” — yah right! This is Windows first (assuming you got this far) attempt to send you away. Ignore it. Click on the ‘Change settings’ button.


07 HPPHOTOSMART 1218 Properties - Update Driver

That window will close and another one named exactly the same thing will open. It is the same but different. Now click on the ‘Driver’ tab at the top and press the ‘Update Driver’ button. If the button is greyed out then check that you didn’t skip the previous step!


08 Update Driver Software - Browse my computer for driver software

You probably are used to seeing windows open and close and open again. Now one called ‘Update Driver Software – HPPHOTOSMART 1218’ appears for you to click the ‘Browse my computer for driver software’ button. Click it!


09 Update Driver Software - Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer

Now click the button called ‘Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer’.


10 Update Driver Software - Select your device's type from the list below - Printers

Scroll down the list that appears and click on the item called ‘Printers’ then press the ‘Next’ button (or just double-click on the ‘Printers’ item).


11 Update Driver Software - Select your device's type from the list below - HP Photosmart 8400 Series

A wizard decides to make an appearance! Where was he lurking up to now!?!? Anyway, in this, the ‘Add Printer Wizard’ screen, scroll through the left-hand list of ‘Manufacturer’ names and highlight ‘HP’. Then in the right-hand list of ‘Printers’ scroll through the list until you find ‘HP Photosmart 8400 Series’. Highlight it and click the ‘Next’ button (or double-click the Printer series’ name).


12 Update Driver Warning - Yes

Ding-dong! Alert! Alert! Windows will scream at you in a yet another window that you really should think twice about what you are doing: “Installing this device driver is not recommended…”. Listen, you didn’t come this far to back down now!! What are you? A keyboard or a mouse? Click the ‘Yes’ button (or type the letter ‘Y’). Trust me.


13 Update Driver Software - Installing driver software...

Now you’ve gone and done it! The window has gone all white! It says it is installing some driver software!! What have you done? Calm down dear, everything is fine. Or is it? Be patient and watch the pretty green blob drift repeatedly along the length of the grey bar a good dozen or so times. Then wait some more. Now would be a good time to make some tea.


14 Update Driver Software - Timeout

What!? Windows encountered a problem? You’ll be lucky if you don’t see this! What to do? What to do? Well, thankfully, there is no option except to click the ‘Close’ button – so click it! Now go back to Step 7. Think of this like Snakes & Ladders. You just landed on a snake. So, work your way through the steps again from there. Things will be better the second time through. Trust me. Tip: put some champagne on ice.


15 Update Driver Software - Successfully updated

It worked! “Windows has successfully updated your driver software”. Pop open the champagne that I told you put on ice (if you missed the step where I told you to do this, then count yourself lucky for not encountering a problem along the way; in consolation, have a beer instead). Click the ‘Close’ button. Then click the ‘Close’ button in the ‘HP Photosmart 8400 Series Properties’ window too.


16 photosmart 1218 properties - device shows HP Photosmart 8400 Series

What there’s more? Well, only if you want to be pedantic and tidy things up and make sure they work right. You should have just the ‘photosmart 1218 Properties’ window left on your screen now (remember Step 5?). You can close that now too.
Oh! the ‘Devices and Printers’ window is still there! Forgot about that one. But wait! It still says the specified printer is ‘unspecified’? What to do…what to do…


17 Devices and Printers

Press the ‘F5’ key in the ‘Devices and Printers’ window. Presto! That wizard must have waved his magic wand! The ‘photosmart 1218’ unspecified specified printer has disappeared and a new ‘HP Photosmart 8400 Series’ printer has appeared under ‘Printers and Faxes’ (faxes? faxes? what’s that?).


18 Properties - rename and print test page

Double-click on the new ‘HP Photosmart 8400 Series’ printer icon; A window will open (another one? No wonder they call this operating system ‘Windows’ not ‘Window’).
Click on the ‘Customize your printer’ button. Yup, you guessed it, another window will open: “HP Photosmart 8400 Series Properties”.
You can change the name of the printer right at the top of this window, say to ‘HP Photosmart 1218’ and add a comment, for example, “Uses 8400 series driver”.
If you are anxious, you can see if things worked: click the ‘Print Test Page’ button. Go on, I dare you!
If all has gone well, then have another glass of bubbly! Your 1218 should now be making some whirring noises and printing something — you did put paper and ink in, right? Step 20 shows you the unsurprising window that will appear.


19 Device Settings - Duplex Unit

If you have the optional (?) duplex feeder installed on the back of the 1218 then you can tell Windows that you have it installed – whether it believes you or not (or uses it) is another matter. Click on the ‘Device Settings’ tab. Find the item ‘Duplex Unit (for 2-Sided Printing)’ under the heading ‘Installable Options’. Click on ‘Not Installed’ (stick with me on this). A drop-down menu will appear where you can now select ‘Installed’.
Click the ‘OK’ button.


20 Print test page

After you press the ‘Print Test Page’ button in step 18, you’ll see this wonderful window stating the obvious. That is unless your printer didn’t print anything; which hopefully it didn’t do, meaning it did print.


HP Original 45 and 78 Combo-Pack Ink Cartridges £46.33 on 2014-01-04 Amazon

Click the image to go to Amazon (UK) where I bought the ink.

After I got my 1218 working under Windows 7, I realised that 6 year old ink just ain’t there anymore – the cartridges had dried out (either that or they were used up when the printer was packed up).

Either way, I had to order some more. I bought a combination pack that included the black and the colour cartridge for £46.33 delivered (about US$76).


I hope your printer now works! If not, then please leave a comment below and someone may be able to help out – and if you figure it out yourself, then leave a comment about what you did to put things right!

Can I trouble you to BUY US A BEER as a token of thanks – believe you me that it would be received with thanks!


12 comments to Installing HP PhotoSmart 1218 on Windows 7

  • David R Johston

    I know this was an old installation plan—but I have a 1218 that has always been reliable, two sided and fairly compact. I redid the drivers using 990c to work on XP. but now 2 phases later I have Windows 10. And the process worked on that as well!! So, thanks for your accurate, cogent, humorous and helpful suggestions.


  • Reiner

    Works perfectly also from inside VMWare Player virtual machines.

    Thank you for posting this ….

  • Eureka! It worked… after spending hours and hours trying to get my HP Photosmart 1218 Printer running on Windows 7 last night and since first trials during 2010.

    Thanks very much.

  • Diane Matesic

    Thanks, it worked for me. I was close to getting another printer, and you saved a landfill from acquiring a perfectly working printer! If you send your mailing address to my email listed, I will gladly send a check/money order for a case of beer, really.

  • thanks so much it worked and yes i want to buy you multiple beers, but how? Are you in town Tucson that is? I will look at your site to solve the mystery.

    Yes my mother was a Reeves born in Eastern Tennessee. Her father ran Blyville Soybean Corp.
    May God bless you.

  • Joanne

    Worked like a champ. Thanks so much for the ‘dumb it down’ instructions. Ironically enough I also have the 8400 printer

  • Joanne

    Thanks so much. I don’t drink, but I did toast with you with a cup of Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. I even went the extra mile of printing a document with graphics in it. Works like a champ.

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  • Syr

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!! That was really really helpful, thank god there are people like you!!
    It worked out at first attempt, finally I can retire my old computer (XP) that only existed to make my printer usable.

    Thousand thanks again, be blessed!

  • Carl

    Thank You. I am now able to use my printer with Windows 7.

  • Michael

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! These instructions worked like a charm!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Fitz

    Great instructions… worked for me!! Now to get some ionk cartridges…:<(

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