Want to print directly (and wirelessly) from your iPad or iPhone without having to get your Mac involved at all? Not a problem.
Apple's wireless printing technology, AirPrint, makes it possible to print wirelessly from your iOS device to any AirPrint-ready printer. There's a full list of AirPrint printers on Apple's website, or if you'd like to buy one you could read our guide to the best printers for iPhone or iPad and our roundup of the best printer deals.
Even if your printer doesn't support AirPrint, there are third-party apps that will allow you to do so.
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.
Printing from iPhone/iPad to an AirPrint printer
AirPrint technology enables Apple devices to send print jobs over Wi-Fi to suitably equipped printers. The number of printers supporting AirPrint is quite high, but it's always worth checking the specs 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. 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.
The process depends slightly on the app in use.
How to print an email with AirPrint
- Open the Mail app and find the email you want to print. If you want to print an attached document (such as a PDF file), click on the attachment to open it.
- Along the bottom of Mail you'll see icons including a Flag, and just before the end a curved arrow pointing left.
- Tap this arrow and choose Print from the list of options.
- Tap on Select Printer and your iPhone will seek a local AirPrint printer.
- Once the printer is located, select it.
- Tap Print.
How to print from Safari using AirPrint
- Open the Safari app and then navigate to the desired web page.
- Tap the share icon in the bottom bar (it's a square, with an arrow pointing up).
- You should see three rows of actions. The top shows AirDrop shares, if available; the second shows app-specific actions; and the bottom row shows generic actions. Swipe across this bottom row until you see Print, and tap on it.
- Tap on Select Printer if your AirPrint printer hasn't already been identified, and wait for it to be located.
- Choose your AirPrint device from the list of printers.
- You can choose which pages you want to print - swipe through the various pages and deselect any you don't need. (This avoids printing pages worth of comments or unnecessary information.)
- Tap Print.
Note that you might find it works better if you PDF the web page prior to printing, as this tends to take away some of the unnecessary page furniture. We'll walk through this next.
How to create (and print) a PDF of a web page
- Locate the web page in Safari and tap on the share icon (square with arrow).
- Swipe across the bottom row of options until you find Create PDF. Tap this.
- Once the PDF is created, tap the share icon again and choose Print.
The document will now be printed from your iPhone or iPad and outputted directly to the printer.
Printing from an iPhone to a non-AirPrint printer
But what if your printer doesn't support AirPrint? If you've got 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, 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
- Print 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 AirPrint support to any printer
Devices such as the Lantronix xPrintServer can be connected 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.