How to Air Print from iDevices without an air printer


How to Air Print from iDevices without an air printer
Quick Mac Tip, 22 May 2011

If you have the right printer you can print wirelessly from your iPad without plugging the device into anything. But chances are you don’t have one of the 17 printers (at time of writing) that allows you to do this. Jo Fothergill has figured out how to use your existing printer instead.

This guest Tip is written by Jo Fothergill.

This new wireless printing capability is called AirPrint:

AirPrint on iPad makes it simple to print your email, photos, web pages, and documents. There‚Äôs no software to download, no drivers to install, and no cables to connect. With just a few taps on your iPad, you can go from viewing something on the screen to holding a printed copy. …

“No cables” means exactly that. AirPrint printing is 100 percent wireless. iPad automatically locates and connects to AirPrint-enabled printers on your Wi-Fi network.

Jo Fothergill. Jo Fothergill is a primary school teacher working with 8 & 9 year old students in New Zealand. Having spent the last 30 years playing with computers, Jo has spent the last 8 years exploring all that is Mac.

Printopia gives you Air Printing with other printers

If you’re like me you have an iDevice or two that is capable of air printing but you don’t have an air printer. If you have a Mac running on the same wifi network as your iDevices the problem is solved with a piece of software for your Mac called Printopia from ECamm.

Printopia comes in a demo version which you can use for a week to see if this product is really for you. (Thumbs up for this — I’ve noticed more and more companies aren’t providing demo versions.

Full version is US$19.95 — totally worth it in my opinion.)

Install it on your Mac and set up the printers you want to share. An added benefit here for Dropbox users is that ‘Send to Dropbox’ is one of your print options!

Once you’ve set up Printopia and sharing is on you can now check out your iDevices.

I initially tested this in Safari but this works anywhere where there’s a print option.

I opened a web page and touched the print icon. There are four options, the last one being Print.

Touching Print gives you all the options you specified in the setup on your Mac.

Touch the option you want to use, then print.

After a moment a PDF will pop up on your Mac desktop and print to the selected device.

It’s a similar process with your iPhone. I’m running a 3GS and it worked fine so will work well with your iPhone 4 too.

Both my iPhone 3GS and iPad 1 are running the latest updates (4.3.2). Both printed actual paper copies of the web pages I selected but more importantly for me, both sent the selected pages & photos to my Dropbox. Printopia created a folder in the main directory called Printopia.

It was a simple matter to then open my Dropbox and find the PDF version of the page/photo I’d printed waiting for me.

On a side note I discovered it was a very easy way to send my screenshots from my iDevices to my Mac without syncing or emailing them. I ‘printed’ them to my Dropbox!

Simple summary

  1. Install and set up Printopia on your Mac
  2. Your Mac base computer must be running on the same network for this to work!
  3. Choose your print option from your iDevice
  4. Print

Do you use AirPrint. Tell us about your experiences in the Comments. Could you write a guest MacTip? If so, contact me.

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11 Comments

  1. Brian said:

    It would be nice if it installed, but it won’t. Have tried everything since buying it and still no luck and their tech support is non-existent. Four emails to them asking for help and not a peep.

  2. Lesli Wright-Bobholz said:

    Thank you so much. After a lot of frustration with Printer Pro and trying to figure out the IP address of my Canon wireless printer, I got something to print using Printopia.

  3. Thomas Hiegel said:

    The suggestion I received was only if I have a Mac computer, which I do not. I want to print from my new iPad to my Epson 840 and have a pc. Need to have some help to do this.

  4. Larry said:

    Someone at Best Buy said my HP c4780 was compatible but it wasn’t. I did some research and found that I could usa an app called eprint and it works fine. I don’t know if u have to have HP printer for this appp to work.

  5. Thomas Hiegel said:

    I am trying to figure how to print to a printer on my pc, not mac. Is there anything to load on a pc that will print to my epson 840 wireless?

  6. Karl said:

    I also tried the free trial of Printopia for my iPad and iMac, but when I got around to trying to buy it, I found it was no longer available. The ECamm web site is no longer available??? What is going on here?

  7. Paul Johnson said:

    Thanks for the tip. I purchased the program based on the MacTip, tried it and it worked. Now I have to lobby Apple to add a share option to the “Notes” built in program. Without checking first I thought Printopia would print my “Notes” but alas.

    • KiwiGraham said:

      Perhaps look for an alternative app to “Notes”.

      I use “PlainText” which has a Dropbox interface and the ability to use Printopia and is free (with adverts at the bottom).

  8. KiwiGraham said:

    Interestingly just yesterday I answered a similar question from a friend in the Windows world about printing from the iPad. My reply, which includes the excellent Printopia mentioned above, went like this:

    “To print over wireless there are 3 methods/options.

    1) AirPrint is the built in feature that detects compatible printers on the local network (via zeroconf broadcast messages). There are only a small number of printers that are compatible. See http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4356

    2) Install a 3rd party app that has the smarts to talk the more “standard” network print protocol. ie. a printer driver. An example is “Print N Share” – I haven’t used this myself but the reviews seem to indicate it works well for HP wireless printers.

    3) If you have an “always on” computer on your network you can install a program that broadcasts zeroconf information about printers that are connected to that machine. AirPrint on the iPad then simply sees those printers. I use a Mac program called Printopia that does this on a server for my home network.

    The Print N Share people also provide server side software, Windows & Mac, that gives pass-thru printing from their app (a mix of 2 & 3).

    No single simple answer and your results may vary, but I hope that helps clarify!”

    Note: “zeroconf” is “Bonjour”

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