I don’t have an iPad (though it would be cool), but my friend Mike asked for some help printing from his iPad to his Wifi printer… I did a little searching and it turns out he’s definitely not the only one having trouble with this. Here’s why…
Full of Promise
iPads, like other iOS devices, were given a nice upgrade by Apple when they included the “AirPrint” feature in iOS 4.2 and it seemed to be promising. Unfortunately that is all it seems to be so far — promising…
Writing checks it can’t cash?
The trouble is that in order for AirPrint to work it’s magic — and by magic I mean helping the iPad et al print from a printer — it needs both an upgraded iOS device and a printer that supports its protocols. At the time that it was released there were all of 8 or 10 printers that supported it! I don’t think it has increased all that much since.
“So what can I/we do?”
Well, there are some options, but they can be expensive and/or frustrating… I’ll list a few of the most common with a few caveats:
- Buy a Printing App (note: almost every one I’ve seen requires an additional download that you run on a computer attached to the printer to work as a type of pseudo-AirPrint driver. Not all are cross-platform. Also the prices can be very expensive.
- Jailbreak your iOS device and run some print-helper scripts that make use of Dropbox on your phone and on your computer. (Look, this really isn’t a reasonable option. It may be free, but it’s far from efficient).
- Jailbreak your iOS device and buy a Printing App (note: this one may still be expensive, but supposedly it does not require installation of any additional software)
- Do it the old-fashioned way by emailing the files you want to print and opening them from a computer attached to the printer you want to print from. (note: Really? That’s so lame!)
- Sync the documents to Dropbox on your iOS device then print them from a computer that is also synced with your Dropbox account. (Note: Faster than the option above, but still not exactly efficient or desirable).
- Go out and buy a printer that is AirPrint compatible. (note: that is assuming you have enough cash left after coughing it up for the iPad)
The Best Option?
Clearly the best and cheapest thing you can do to print from your iPad (or other iOS device) is to do as this image demonstrates:
But in all seriousness, the best solution is whatever works best for your own situation.
If you have the money (say $9 or $10 USD) go ahead and buy/download PrintCentral Pro iPad | iPod Touch and iPhone
Then install the helper software (called “WePrint”) on the computer attached to your printer. You can find it here: http://mobile.eurosmartz.com/download.html
If you’re curious, you can read more about the problems with AirPrint and etc. with these links:
Official Apple AirPrint page. Includes list of supported printers.
TruPrint — The jailbreak app I mentioned earlier…
Some Forum talk regarding printing from an iPad
More forum talk, different info.
Sorry I couldn’t be more help.
UPDATE! — Some better info from a good friend of mine — See below!
The following quotes are from my friend Phil. He was able print from his iPod(s) and shares his experience as follows…
This was actually really easy, at least for me.
Of course, I jailbroke my idevice and downloaded TruPrint from Cydia, which did not require any additional software. TruPrint is a pretty awesome app, but I think it costs like $10, so if you don’t see yourself printing a whole lot from your idevice, it’s definitely not worth it!
The cool thing about TruPrint is that it allows you to print documents like emails, webpages, PDF’s, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and any other app with a “Print” option. When you open TruPrint, you will see “Printer Helper Status”, then below lists Canon App, HP iPrint App, Epson iPrint App, Lexmark App, and Brother iPrint App.
When you click on your printer brand, it will then take you to the App Store. All the apps *should* be free (mine was–Canon). For me, the Canon app page listed the printers that is supported, and of course, mine was listed, but I’m not sure about the other ones; I’m sure they are listed though. The downside to using JUST the Canon app is that it will only print pictures. To some people, that would be good enough, but to others, they may want to have the option to print emails, documents, etc.
I think it really depends on what you are going to be printing, how often you plan on using it, and convenience. For me, printing an email or document on my computer is good enough; I don’t HAVE to print from my ipod. The opportunity cost to pay $10 for TruPrint is much lower than to simply hopping onto the computer to print a document.
On the other hand, I’m sure somebody has already cracked TruPrint (or an app similar) to be free. With that, you get into the moral and ethical debate, but I guess that is the user’s choice.
This is great news for those who don’t mind jailbreaking their iDevice. But if you want to keep yours “jailed” then maybe try downloading the iPrint app related to your printer (Canon, HP, Epson, Lexmark, Brother, etc.) and see how well it works “out of the box”. You may need to install computer-side software to get the printer and your iDevice to interact properly (I believe TruPrint makes use of other methods that are not restricted to Apple’s iPrint and thus bypasses the need to run computer-side softare).
If you have a non-jailbroken phone and this works for you, please let me know.
Finally, a few more quotes from Phil and a link to his website.
Found out another way to print. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before. It may not be the most effective way, depending on if it fits on the whole screen.
Tested only on iPod Touch 4Gen, you can take a screenshot by pressing the home and power buttons at the same time. The image automatically gets saved to your Camera Roll. Open the free printer app that you download from the App Store (in my case Canon iEPP), then print the picture from there.
It will only work if what you need to print fits all on the screen, so any documents that is several pages long will not work unless you resize it to fit one page on one screen, do a screenshot, then do the same with the remainder pages.
Update: you can take screenshots with iPod 2Gen, so the idea should work with most idevices as long as it has iOS 4.2+ for printing.
This is probably the best free and legit way you could take, but may not work in every situation. In many situations I can think of, you can usually zoom out enough to make everything fit well on the screen.
Thanks again Phil for the help!
Check out Phil’s website here –> http://pmccomb.net