If the paperless office isn’t here for you yet, you can print from your iPad or iPhone. Sure, you can’t directly connect a printer to your iPad, but there are plenty of ways to print wirelessly.
This doesn’t mean old wired USB printers are left out — if you have a wired printer, you can still print to it from your iPad or iPhone after connecting it to a Windows PC or Mac.
AirPrint is the Apple-approved wireless printing standard. It’s integrated into Apple’s iOS, so it’s easy to print to AirPrint-enabled printers from an iPad or iPhone.
To use AirPrint, you’ll have to buy a wireless printer that’s advertised as supporting AirPrint. If you’re interested in turning an old printer into an AirPrint-enabled printer, you can try turning any printer into an AirPrint-enabled printer. Bear in mind that this isn’t officially supported by Apple, so it may not work perfectly.
A quick search on Amazon shows that AirPrint-enabled printers can be had for as little as $60. Buy one of these printers and go through its setup process to connect to your Wi-Fi network. When your iPad and an AirPrint printer are connected to the same Wi-Fi network, your iPad will automatically detect the printer. When you select the Print option in an app — like the Safari web browser, for example — you’ll be able to choose from a list of automatically detected AirPrint printers and print to them. There’s no tedious setup process, accounts, or printer drivers required.
AirPrint-enabled printers don’t just work with Apple devices. They also function as Wi-Fi printers so you can print to them from a Windows or Linux PC. Some AirPrint-enabled printers may include Google Cloud Print support, too.
Google Cloud Print
Google Cloud Print is Google’s wireless printing solution. It takes a little bit more work to set up because it requires a Google account, but it has other advantages. With Google Cloud Print, you could print to your printer over the Internet — so you could print to a printer at home when you’re out and about. Google Cloud Print isn’t integrated as nicely into Apple’s iOS, but you can print to Google Cloud Print-enabled printers from the Chrome browser app.
To use Google Cloud Print, you’ll first need to set it up on your printer. If you have a Google Cloud Print-enabled printer, you can set this up directly on your printer — your printer connects to Wi-Fi, talks to Google’s servers, and becomes associated with your Google account. If you have an older printer, you’ll have to set it up through a Windows PC or Mac. Once you’ve got everything set up, you can tap Chrome menu button, tap Print, and select Google Cloud Print.
To set up Google Cloud Print on an older computer, connect it to the older computer and install the Chrome browser. Go through the Google Cloud Print setup process in Chrome to associate the printer with your Google account. You’ll now be able to print to the printer from Chrome on your iPad when the computer is running and Chrome is open. The Chrome app sends your request to Google’s servers, which send it to the Chrome browser on the PC, which sends it to the printer.
If you want to other types of documents to a Google Cloud Print-enabled printer, you may want to try PrintCentral Pro. Google advertises this paid app on their official list of apps that work with Google Cloud Print.
Manufacturer-Specific Printing Apps
Printer manufacturers generally provide their own apps so people who buy their wireless printers can easily print from iPads, iPhones, and even Android devices. If you have a wireless printer that doesn’t support AirPrint or Google Cloud Print, you may want to give your printer manufacture’s app a try.
Open the App Store and do a search for the name of your printer manufacturer to find the appropriate app. You’ll find official apps like HP ePrint, Samsung Mobile Print, Canon Mobile Printing, Epson iPrint and Lexmark Mobile Printing. There are even some unofficial apps you can choose from. These apps generally let you open a variety of different files — web pages, photos, documents, and other things — and print them from within the app. Different apps have different features, and some manufacturers’ apps will work better than others.
That’s it; you can now print web pages, photos, emails, and other documents from your iPad. But try not to print too much — that printer ink is expensive.
Image Credit: Danny Sullivan on Flickr