AirPrint is pretty cool, if you have an AirPrint-enabled printer that is. My mom happens to have one and when I’m at her house printing is a piece of cake. At home, however, I don’t have an AirPrint printer and sometimes I do need or want to print things from my my iPhone or iPad, so want can I do? Several things, in fact.
There are a couple ways to approach this problem. One is with an iOS app, the other is with a desktop app that acts as a shuttle between your device and the printer. With one exception, I’ve had mixed results with both approaches, which makes this a “proceed with caution” kind of how to. Yep, this is one of those “your milage may vary” kind of situations.
You’ll need some help
If your printer doesn’t support AirPrint out of the box all is not lost. First step is whether or not it’s a network printer. Doesn’t matter if it’s on your network through Ethernet or WiFi, then you have a chance that an iOS app solution is all you need. If your printer is on your network by virtue of being shared by a host machine or not shared at all and just connected to a machine, then you’re going to need a helper app running on that machine to facilitate things.
It’s also important to note that if you need to go the helper app on a machine route, then that machine will have to be on and not asleep all the time for the whole shebang to work.
Let’s start with the iOS side of things, because if that works for you, then you’re golden.
Go Lite first and try before you buy
I gave FingerPrint and Handyprint a try and both worked as advertised. Handyprint is very basic, it lets you print and nothing more. It also requires you to turn on printer sharing for it to work. FingerPrint, on the other hand (and from the similar feature set Printopia) might well be worth the $20 investment. While, yes, the apps have to stay running on your machine to do their jobs, they offer nice touches like:
- Print to Dropbox
- Send to your Mac (opens as a PDF)
- Print to Evernote
There have been more than a few times I wanted to capture a webpage into Evernote and have been stymied with the apps I can use (and my bookmarklet I’ve been using has stopped working). Being able to “print” a webpage into Evernote from my iPad or iPhone would be very handy indeed.
First, if you’re a wee disappointed that there aren’t solid, full featured apps (iOS or desktop) that let you use AirPrint from your device for free, I agree with you. I looked and couldn’t find solutions that I’d be comfortable recommending (however if you have one, please leave a comment, I’d love to check it out). However if you’re willing to spend a few bucks, there are solid options for you.
Just remember to try the Lite and free trials of all these apps and see if they really work well for you. All the apps I’ve looked at say that they aren’t guaranteed to work with all printers (but if you get it running for free, then the paid version is guaranteed to work).