It’s certainly possible to print from your iOS device—whether it’s an iPad, iPhone (3GS or later), or iPod Touch (3rd generation or later)—but it depends upon what printer you have. Although Apple only officially supports printers that support the AirPrint technology, as you’ll discover it’s possible to use other printers.
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Check for AirPrint
If you’re buying a new printer or would like to check if your existing printer supports AirPrint, refer to the Apple website to see their list of printers. Plus you may want to double-check the printer vendor’s website for a list of AirPrint compatible models.
Keep in mind some vendors release firmware upgrades for printers that may include the addition of AirPrint among other features and fixes. Thus double-check on the vendor’s website if any firmware updates have been released for your particular model.
AirPrint works wirelessly, so if your printer supports it and both the printer and iOS device are connected to the same network you should see the printer show up on the iOS device when you select to printer from an app. To do this with the Apple apps, such as Mail, Safari, Photos, and Maps, you tap the share button and then tap Print. Other third-party apps can also support AirPrint but the printing process may differ.
If no AirPrint printers are found, double-check that the printer is turned on and that your iOS device is connected to connected to the same Wi-Fi network that your printer is connected to. Also ensure the printer is ready and doesn’t have any errors display on the LCD screen or on your computer. And if problems persist, double-check your printers compatibility and check for firmware updates.
Remember, AirPrint doesn’t work with printers connected solely via USB to a computer, Apple AirPort Base Station, or Time Capsules; AirPrint works via Wi-Fi and the printer must be connected to the same Wi-Fi network as the iOS device.
Install Software on Your PC or Mac
One way to make just about any printer AirPrint capable is by installing software on your computer. These work by taking printers connected via USB cable or the network and broadcasting them as AirPrint printers to iOS devices on the network. Since the software is doing the trick, the PC would have to be running when you print from your iOS devices.
HandyPrint, FingerPrint, and Netgear Genie are examples of software applications that can add AirPrint support to your regular printers. HandyPrint requires a small donation after the free trial and can be installed on only Mac computers. FingerPrint costs $19.95 after the free trial and can be installed on either Mac or Windows PCs. And Netgear Genie is network management software you can use with supported Netgear routers that helps you manage your home/small network in addition to providing the AirPrint functionality.
Use Mobile Apps
Another software solution is to use a mobile app on your device to enable printing to printers, most of which support printing from iOS and Android devices. Here are a few options to consider:
Print Magic ($1.99) allows you to print to most Wi-Fi printers on the same network without installing software on your computer, which is also available for Android ($2.99). And you can print to any printer shared from your Mac computer via Printer Sharing or any printer available on your Windows PC after installing their software. They offer the Printer Test for Print Magic app so you can check for printer compatibility before purchasing.
Print n Share ($9.99) also allows you to print to most Wi-Fi and network-connected printers on the same network without installing software on your computer, and is also available for Android ($2.99). And after installing their software you can print to any printer available on your Windows PC or Mac computer when on the same network or remotely via 3G, 4G, or the cloud. In addition to the printing functionality, the app includes many other Wi-Fi and cloud sharing features.
Epson iPrint (free) lets you print anywhere from your iOS devices if you have a supported Epson printer, and is available for Android (free). You can also check your printer’s status and ink levels with the app as well. Also keep in mind Epson supports other printing technologies; see their compatibility list.
Eric Geier is a freelance tech writer—keep up with his writings on Facebook. He's also the founder of NoWiresSecurity, a cloud-based Wi-Fi security service, and On Spot Techs, an on-site computer services company.