Portability is always a focus for smartphones and tablets - especially when this concerns printing on the go. This is where Apple's proprietary wireless printing technology, AirPrint, comes in handy. If you buy a compatible AirPrint printer you can print wirelessly from any iOS device at a touch of a button.
There's a full list of AirPrint printers on Apple's website. But what if you want to use a printer that doesn't have AirPrint? All is not lost. There are a range of options that enable you to print wirelessly to any printer from an iPhone or iPad, with or without AirPrint.
In this feature we'll show you how to print from your iPad or iPhone to virtually any printer, wirelessly or across a network, using AirPrint or third-party apps.
How to print from iPad or iPhone to a wireless AirPrint printer
Apple offers AirPrint for iOS and macOS, a technology that enables Apple devices to print over Wi-Fi to suitably equipped printers. The number of printers supporting AirPrint is quite high, but it's always worth checking the specs to ensure that support is built-in before you buy one.
With AirPrint, the option to print from iOS will be available via the share button (the arrow pointing out of a square box) in any application that supports printing, including Safari and Mail. As long as the printer is connected to the same network and configured correctly (according to the printer manufacturer’s instructions) your iPhone or iPad should find it without further prompting.
Here's how to print an email from iOS with AirPrint:
- Open the Mail app and the email you want to print. If you want to print an attached document (such as a PDF file) then click on the attachment to open it inside the Mail app.
- Tap Share (the icon shaped as a curved arrow). If you don't see the Share icon slide up to the top of the Mail message to reveal it.
- Make sure your AirPrint printer is displayed in the Printer area. If not, tap Printer and choose your AirPrint printer from the list of printers.
- Tap Print.
Here is how to print from Safari on iOS using AirPrint:
- Open the Safari app and then navigate to the desired web page (note that if you've got a blank tab open, you be won't be given the option of printing).
- Tap Share (the icon shaped as a box, with an arrow pointing up).
- On the third column you will see a list of actionable settings. Click the printer logo.
- Make sure your AirPrint printer is displayed in the Printer area. If not, tap Printer and choose your AirPrint device from the list of printers.
- Select which web pages you want to print.
- Tap Print.
The document will now be printed from your iPhone or iPad and outputted directly on the printer.
How to print from iPad or iPhone to a printer that doesn't support AirPrint
But what if your printer doesn’t support AirPrint? If you have a Mac (or a PC, for that matter), you're in luck. You can still share your printer with your iPad or iPhone and print via AirPrint through your computer.
If you connect your printer to a Mac computer, you can then install an app that enables you to use AirPrint on an iOS device to print directly to the printer. There are a number of different apps available that enable you to do this. Here are some worth checking out:
- Connect a printer to your Mac with Print n Share
- Print over Wi-Fi from iOS using HandyPrint
- Printing wirelessly with Printopia
You'll need to have your Mac switched on to use AirPrint in this way, but it's an easy option for wireless printing throughout the house for any printer.
If you're interested in having your printer located away from your Mac, you can try using an Apple AirPort base station. You can locate this anywhere in the house and connect the printer to the USB port. This enables your Mac to print anywhere in the house, although you'll still need to install one of the above apps to print from an iOS device.
How to add iOS AirPrint support to any printer
There are also devices like the Lantronix xPrintServer that you can connect to any printer to enable AirPrint printing. With a device like the XPrintServer you can print from an iPhone or iPad directly to any printer.
Increasingly, even printers that don't directly support AirPrint - but do have network capability - offer alternative methods. Check out your printer's documentation to see if, for example, you can print by email. Or look on the iOS App Store to see if there's a custom app for your printer.