I’ve been using a HP-5200tn printer to print The Mushroom Growers’ Newsletter for many years.  This printer requires a manual approach to duplex (double sided) printing.  First I print the number of copies I need of page one, flip those copies over, insert them in the manual feed tray (Tray 1) and print the second page.  It works ok, but it always leaves a toner smudge on the second page.  My printer tech (Brett at Kelley Connect here in Klamath Falls, OR) says this is from the blank side of the paper being rubbed by the printed side as the paper is drawn in from the tray.  He also said this is true of virtually any laser printer and there is a solution.  The solution is a printer that prints duplex automatically.  These printers print both sides of each piece of paper before drawing the next blank sheet of paper.  Thus, a printed side never touches a blank side of the paper.

Installing a Duplexer

There is an identical printer to mine, the HP-5200dtn, that also has a duplexer.  The duplexer can be added to my version of the printer, so I got one.  I found a refurbished one for $54.  Installing it amounted to removing a plastic cover plate from the back of the printer and shoving the duplexer into the slot.

Unfortunately the duplexer will not work unless it has more than 80MB of memory in the printer.  My printer had 64MB,  the standard wired in memory card.  I found a 256MB card designed for this printer for $10.  Installing the card is pretty simple:  slide the panel on the side of the printer backward until it pops out, put the card in the obvious card slot (mine was empty, yours may already have a card that will need to be removed if you are adding memory), lock it in, and replace the side panel.  When you plug in and restart the printer it should display the amount of memory on its display.  In my case 320MB.

Getting the Software Working

The printer needs to know that it has a duplexer. The HP Printer Utility can be used to tell it.  Since I don’t do Windows anymore,  here is the process for Mac OSX:

  1. Open System Preferences under the Apple menu
  2. Click “Printers & Scanners”
  3. Click on your HP-5200 printer
  4. Click “Options & supplies”
  5. Click “Utility”
  6. Click “Open Printer Utility”
  7. Click on “Duplex Mode”
  8. Check “Enable Duplex Mode”
  9. Close the utility and system preferences.

I did all this and still couldn’t get a PDF to print in duplex.  I started a chat with an HP “expert” on the HP website.   She told me there was no printer firmware for my operating system  (OSX 10.14.6) – even though I was running on very old firmware and I found an update on HP’s website (it was for OSX 10.11, but newer than the version I had). I never did figure out how to install the new firmware because none of HP’s online instructions work.  I’m still using the older firmware, 20060330 08.055.1. The chat concluded after she told me it was impossible to print duplex from my printer even with the duplex installed (??).  Then, a convenient network error cut her off.

How to Print in Duplex

After getting cut off,  I tried printing the chat transcript from Safari and lo and behold, the print dialog offered the option to duplex print and it worked perfectly.  I subsequently found that it seems to work like that with most software. Note,  that it may be good idea to restart your computer to be sure all the software knows what’s going on.   Here is what I have tested so far:

  • Apple Pages – check “Two-Sided” in the print dialog box
  • Safari – check “Two-Sided” in the print dialog box
  • Chrome – check “Two-Sided” in the print dialog box
  • Google Earth – check “Two-Sided” in the print dialog box
  • Libre Office – check “Two-Sided” in the print dialog box
  • MS Word – get into the Layout section of the print dialog and turn on duplex printing there
  • Acrobat (PDF) – From the print dialog box, get into the “Layout” pane where there is a drop down labeled “Two-Sided”.  Choose the binding option that works for your project.  That’s “Long-Edge Binding” for a typical 8-1/2X11 document.
  • QuarkXPress – Choose “Printer” at the bottom of the Quark print box to open the standard print dialog box.   Check “Two-Sided” and choose which side the binding is on in the print dialog box

My first attempt with Quark resulted in the back of the page being upside down.  This is because the printer defaults to “Long Edge Binding”, so 8-1/2X11 pages print like a book.  I was printing on 11X17 with a horizontal layout.  Thus, I needed to set it to “Short-Edge Binding.”  By the way,  the User Guide for this printer says at one place that 11X17 will work in the duplex while in another place it says it won’t work.  It works.


Yes, one can automatically print two-sided with a duplexer and extra memory added to an HP-5200.  And, no,  you can’t trust HP “experts” to have a clue.