iPad Printing Solutions, and Stuff

Discussion in 'AirPrint' started by twerppoet, May 22, 2014.

  1. twerppoet
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    twerppoet iPad Legend

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    We’re not paperless, yet:

    The paperless (less paper) era is on it’s way, eventually. Many people carry some kind of viewing device. Ebooks and PDFs are coming into their own. But, sometimes, you still need to kill a tree, and sometimes you need to do it from your iPhone or iPad. So, how do we do the deed?


    AirPrint Printers:

    Apple’s answer is AirPrint, a technology built into your iOS device. On the plus side; many manufacturers support it, developers can easily add it to their apps, and you don’t need a computer (only a network). On the minus side, it doesn’t support a whole lot of formatting options. In Apple’s usual style, the output is good, and will server for most users; but if you are used to tweaking your print output to perfection, you may be in for some frustration. {also true for almost all the listed methods}

    For more information on AirPrint and a list of compatible printers go to Apple’s AirPrinter Basics support page.


    AirPrint Software and Devices:

    Not long after Apple came out with AirPrint on iOS, developers and hardware manufactures started coming out with products to let you use it with your older printers, or to extend the servicer over your network. Here are some of the better known products.

    Printopia by ecamm ($19.95) installs on your OS X computer (sorry, no Windows version). Once installed you can use AirPrint to print to any printer connected to that computer.

    What makes it my favorite solution is that you can create virtual printers that save your documents to folders (as PDF or image files), or open them in compatible apps on the computer. The downside is that your computer must be on, and you must be logged in. If you normally have a computer running on your network this is rarely an issue.

    OPrint (19.95) is a similar solution for Windows computers. It doesn’t have as many bells and whistles, but should do the job.

    Presto ($19.95/yr) replaces Collobos’ older FingerPrint software. Subscription based, it seems better suited to business or home office use; but it also supports mobile devices other than iOS, so it could be a the right solution for a multi-OS household

    AirPrint Activator (free) works with both Windows and OS X. Setting it up requires several steps and some extra software from Apple (iTunes and Bonjour Printer Services). It has become increasingly difficult to find reliable sources for this software, and I haven’t had any luck finding decent instructions for OS X installation. Here is the best AirPrint Activator for Windows link I could find. You may have to work at it, but at least it’s free. Good luck.

    NetGear Genie (free): If you own a compatible NetGear router, you may be able to use NetGear Genie. Primarily a network management tool, it also makes the printers on your network AirPrint compatible.

    XPrint Server ($99.95) is a box you connect to your network. It has an extensive list of supported printers, and will automatically make all of them it sees on your network AirPrint compatible. If you have several printers, don’t want to leave a computer on all the time, and are willing to pay for it this could be the right solution for you. Be sure to check their list of compatible printers before buying.


    Printing Apps:

    To use a printing app you first have to send your file to that app (with the exception of photos). Using the Open In option, included in most apps, is the normal method. In general these apps will support most image file formats, PDF documents, iWorks documents, and Office documents. Be sure to read the description closely to make sure the app supports the formats you’ll be using most.

    One of the most popular printing apps is Printer Pro by Reedle ($6.99). It supports a wide variety of printers and document types. For those printers that it does not support directly, you can install companion software on your computer and make those printers available (as long as the computer is on).

    Many printer manufacturers provide their own apps. Some support their own proprietary wireless printing method: HP ePrint and Epson iPrint. Others can be for specific models (or families) of printers. The advantage of these apps is that they often support extra features or hardware (like a scanner).

    Be sure to search the App Store for your printer’s manufacturer and and model. Even if you don’t use the app as your primary means of printing these apps make a good backup, and might help with unusual print jobs.


    Other Print Solutions:

    There are a few printing solutions that are a combination of the above, or do their own thing.

    Google Cloud Print (free). Google’s answer to wireless printing requires a Google account, software on your computer (Chrome mostly), an app on your iOS device (or Chrome), and an internet connection. As a plus it supports printing from almost any mobile device and from anywhere you have an internet connection. The minuses are the need for an internet connection and an involved setup.

    HP ePrintCenter is another option, if you have a printer that supports it. You set up your home printer with an email address and send attached documents to the printer. If you’re often out and about, and need to print documents back in the office, this might work for you.


    Summary:

    The reasons for printing from your mobile devices are becoming scarce, but not yet extinct. When the need arises you have three (and a smidgen more) choices: AirPrint printers, AirPrint software/device servers, printing apps, and other (mostly combinations of the above).

    I’ve probably missed someone’s favorite app or service. Or you may know of problems with the services I’ve listed. Please feel free to make this thread better with your knowledge.

    With the exception of Printopia, I do not use these solutions. I recommend you take the time to research them before deciding which, if any of them, that you use.
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  2. twerppoet
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    twerppoet iPad Legend

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    I've been meaning to update my old iOS Printing note for a while. Here it is.

    It turned out to be a bit longer than anticipated, so I won't be adding this to any posts replying to printing questions, just the link.

    If anyone sees any errors, please speak up. I'll fix them, eventually, I promise.

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