Painless printing from your iPad

(without calling tech support)

Despite Apple releasing AirPrint waaaay back in the heady days of iOS4, printing has long been the iPad’s Achilles heel. Wireless printing in general remains a mysterious and arcane art whose magics are passed down from tech support to tech support only in oral storytelling form, or perhaps encrypted Ogham sticks. NO ONE REALLY KNOWS FOR SURE. But here’s a way to get truly painless printing from your iPad.

Let’s break it down, step by step:

1. Determine whether you can print from your current app

Not all iOS apps allow for direct printing. Here’s how to tell whether you can print from your current app:

Painless printing from the iPad

Tap the Share icon, and in the menu it brings up, look for the Print icon. If the Print icon is there, boom! You’re golden. Some of the apps that allow direct printing include iOS’ native Safari, Photos, Notes and Mail, along with Google Drive, Google Maps, Instapaper, Keynote, Pages and Numbers, and Evernote.

Skitch, inexplicably, does not, a fact that pains me on a molecular level.

For apps that don’t allow printing, one workaround is to email your work to a laptop or desktop machine where you already have printing set up. Another is to take a screenshot of the work and print it from within Photos. Yes, those are cop-outs, but most importantly, they’re effective cop-outs.

2. Tap the Print icon and choose your printer

Painless printing from your iPad

Now, if your printer is AirPrint-enabled, on the same wi-fi network as your device and turned on, you should see it as an option.

Painless printing on the iPad

Tap on your printer of choice and go collect your paper gold.

If your printer is not AirPrint-enabled, all you need is to add a printing utility to route traffic from device to printer.

3. Grab an iDevice printing utility

Two solid choices for printing utilities are Printopia and handyPrint.

Printopia!

You can download a 7-day free trial version of Printopia here. Download it onto a Mac OS desktop or laptop where you already have printing enabled. Double-click the zip file and it will install a new panel in your System Preferences:

Painless printing from your iPad

Click into that panel and you’ll see:

Painless printing from your iPad

BOOM! Extra options! You can configure Printopia to not just send paper print jobs, but also send items from your iPad to Dropbox and Evernote. After you’re done with the dance of joy, make sure your printer has a checkmark next to it in the menu.

Now when you return to your iPad and tap Share > Print > Choose a Printer, you should see your printer listed.

handyPrint

No exclamation point because the name’s not as cool as Printopia! even if it is incredibly descriptive.

handyPrint is a utility made specifically for the older kinds of non-Airprinting printers, and over at its website it has an exhaustive photo tutorial on installation and use. The developers ask for a one-time $5 minimum donation.

Troubleshooting

  • Is your iPad on the same wifi network as your printer?
  • Is the printer turned on?
  • Did someone cause a paper jam in the printer and then walk briskly away?

Okay that last one might be painful, I admit, but other than that, you should be all set with painless printing from your iPad!

And yes, we will be covering printing from the Chromebook and from Android tablets as well. But that’s another blog post.

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Audrey Homan
Audrey Homan does online things like game-building, blog-posting, live-tweeting and video-editing for the Tarrant Institute. She also gets to dremel DIY iPad carts and make up theme songs for other people's columns. It's a good life, is what she's saying.
Audrey Homan

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