Printing Wirelessly from iOS Using an Old Printer

The ability to print wirelessly from your iOS device (iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad) is relatively new, but very powerful. While some vendors call this technology "ePrint", Apple's marketing name is "AirPrint". Regardless of the name, it's empowering for the end-user. AirPrint is one of the key technologies that really enables someone to use an iPad as their full-time content-creation device.

In an ideal world, we would all have shiny new printers that have the AirPrint (or ePrint) technology built-in. Unfortunately, for most of us, that would likely require the purchase of a new printer.

I use an HP CP3525n color laser printer, and LOVE it. It lasts forever, is very reliable, has great print quality and is very cost-effective. The problem, however, is that it doesn't have AirPrint/ePrint built-in. I'm guessing you also have a printer without this feature, but would still like to AirPrint documents to it. No problemo! Here's how to circumvent that minor detail. 

First, you will need to download and install a small program called Printopia. They offer a free trial, but to purchase the app for permanent use will set you back a whopping $20. Chump change in most cases.

Note: Printopia is only supported on Mac. If you're looking for a Windows alternative, you'll want to check out Presto. The concepts discussed here are the same for both solutions.

How does Printopia work? 

Printopia essentially re-shares the list of printers that you already have configured on your Mac with iOS devices that are on the same network (turning your Mac into a print server). For example, if I have a color laser printer and a large-format inkjet printer setup on my Mac, those printers (along with other really nice features that Printopia offers) will be shared with any device on my home or office network. The only catch is that both the Printopia-shared printer and the device you are printing from have to be on the same network (you can't print to a Printopia-shared printer at home from the office, for example).

Once Printopia has been installed, you will want to go into System Preferences > Printopia on your Mac to verify that the printers are enabled (they are enabled by default, but it's always good to double-check). That screen will look something like this (notice the other "Send to..." features that are available):

With that done, now, it's time to print! To do so, click on the action button on your iOS device (the action button is available from most apps, including Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Messages, Mail, Safari and many, many more): 

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From here, tap "Print": 


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Now, choose the printer you wish to print to:

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BAM! That's it! You're off and running. Now go download a free trial of Printopia and try it out today! It will make your iOS life a whole lot more useful.

Posted on July 10, 2013 and filed under How To, iOS, iPad, iPhone, Mac.