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Pharos printer

Pharos is a software package that provides "hold-and-release" printing. Normally, when you print a job, it is sent directly to the printer. Under a hold-and-release system, when you print a job, it goes into a queue where it is held until retrieved by you at a "release station". MIT aims to reduce the cost of public printing by eliminating waste and encouraging deliberate printing, without unduly reducing access or increasing cost to students.

Key Features

  • Keeps the user mindful about printing choices.
  • Security that protects printed information.
  • Reduces cost and waste.
  • Mobile printing.

How to Use

Before you begin, please be sure you are connected to MIT Secure.

Microsoft Windows

Option 1: Install the Pharos "Popup" client
Option 2: Set it up as a network printer ( Your username on your computer must match your MIT Kerberos username for this option to work.)

Apple Mac OS X

Option 1: Install the Pharos "Popup" client
Option 2: Set it up as an LPR network printer ( Your username on your computer must match your MIT Kerberos username for this option to work.)


  • Select the printer "mitprint" (from a print dialog box or the command line).


Set up Pharos as an LPR network printer on Ubuntu ( Your username on your computer must match your MIT Kerberos username for this option to work.)

Instructions are for Ubuntu 14.04 but should readily translate to other distributions on Linux.

Web and mobile devices

Use MobilePrint's web application. It's a fully responsive app that lets you release jobs to any Pharos printers on campus without having to swipe your ID or use the touchscreen.

Where are all the printers located?

Most printers are located in Athena clusters and dorms. A few can be found in the MIT Libraries and near Athena Quickstation kiosks.

  • See MIT Printer Locations for the complete list.
    NOTE: Due to COVID Athena clusters are closed. Pharos printers can be found in the main lobby of dorm buildings. For a more complete list of active printers, refer to CopyTech:

Who can use Pharos at MIT? Is there a quota?

  • All MIT Kerberos Account holders can print with Pharos. However, Affiliates would need to request that their MIT ID Card is linked to the Pharos system. This link is automatically done for staff and students, but not Affiliates. Affiliates must request this link be created via the MIT Card office in order to print to Pharos.


From the Athena Rules of Use:

  • Printing is a shared resource; restraint must still be exercised when using printers to ensure fair access for everyone to this important service. This holds especially true when the clusters are busy. Violation of these rules can result in loss of printing privileges.

Troubleshooting and FAQ's

Getting Help

  1. To report a problem with a printer or the Pharos system send mail to CopyTech at
    • Make sure you include your username, the name of the specific printer, and any error messages you received.
    • Mail you send will generate a trouble ticket and you should receive a ticket reference number almost immediately.
    • Examples of the kinds of things to report:
      • Printer out of paper or toner.
      • Printer physically broken
      • Printer is stuck on a job or not accepting new jobs.
      • Printer is displaying an error that won't go away.
      • Your card does not work on Pharos or you get an error when you swipe.
      • Your account quota needs to be reset
  2. To get help with printing from an application on Athena, contact Athena Consulting as you would for other Athena software questions
  3. To get help setting up a network printer on your Mac or Windows computer contact the Computing Help Desk as you would for other Mac or Windows questions

Have Questions or Still Need Help?

Additional escalation information for Help Staff can be found here:
  • [hd:Pharos Printing Recon]
  • [MITnet Printing Overview (includes setup and escalations)]

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members

Last Modified:

October 20, 2020

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  1. Aug 25, 2011

    Pharos printers are in Athena clusters.

    For a map of Athena clusters, see

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