Fixing HP Scanner “malware” warning on macOS

It’s tax season here in the US and yesterday I plugged in our HP OfficeJet J4500 to scan in some documents that were mailed to us. I don’t use it much but imagine my consternation when I received a malware message “HPScanner.app will damage your computer” from macOS Big Sur and the scanner refusing to work.

I spent a good 30 minutes Googling, uninstalling drivers, reinstalling drivers, with zero success. I went to rant to my husband and surprisingly his Big Sur laptop was working just fine! And while usually I’m the stubborn technologist in the relationship, he was the one who solved this one.

The solution is to download and install the HP 5.1.1 Printer Software Update from Apple, uninstall the printer, and reinstall it.

Why is that so incredibly hard to figure out? Because HP’s website is an incompetent mess. The usual problem resolution path of going to HP’s Driver Download website fails because they don’t have macOS 11 drivers for the OfficeJet J4500. If you click through far enough you’ll arrive on their My operating system is not listed on HP Software and Driver Downloads page which routes you to the Apple website linked above. So there is a driver for the printer it’s just difficult to find. You might need to download and run the “HP Uninstaller” first. I had already done this in my troubleshooting attempt so it’s unclear if this is a prerequisite or not.

Other things that I discovered during my attempt to fix this:

  • Downloading the HP Easy Scan software from the App Store. This doesn’t include the OS-level driver and without it the app can’t communicate with the scanner.
  • Using the Generic PCL driver. While the printer will happily print with the Generic PCL driver (courtesy of Gutenprint) it doesn’t include the drivers for scanning.
  • The reason this likely worked for my husband and not me is that he updated his printer drivers while still on Catalina after HP screwed the pooch and mistakingly revoked certificates for their printer drivers in Oct 2020. I very very seldom print or scan so it’s not surprising that my system was out of date.

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cpeel

I'm a gay geek living in Seattle, WA.

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