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How to print from an iPhone and iPad

The printer is the Keith Richards of machines — slowly on the decline, but seemingly immortal. They are no longer our go-to source of information like they were in the ’90s and early ’00s, but they still hold a special place in the hearts of those of us who prefer the physical print medium to the eye-straining digital format we’ve grown accustomed to on our laptops, tablets, and smartphones. However, you don’t necessarily need a fully-fledged computer to serve all your basic printing needs. Your nifty, spiffy iPhone will do just fine.

Related: Connecting a printer to Windows 10: Tips and troubleshooting

There are plenty of options for printing work-related emails, Instagram selfies, or directions should you be trekking into the boonies where obtaining cell reception is nigh impossible. Modern printers have also made the task of wireless printing from an iPhone or iPad a breeze, incorporating Apple AirPrint functionality and a number of native and third-party apps that utilize your local Wi-Fi for remote printing. Here’s how to get it done.

Print using Apple AirPrint

AirPrint-enabled apps let you create and print full-quality documents and graphics without the chore of installing drivers or configuring the printer queue. The requirements are rather minimal — you need any model iPad, an iPhone 3GS or later, or a third-generation iPod Touch — as well as the latest version of iOS and an AirPrint-compatible printer with the latest firmware. Feel free to check Apple’s AirPrint basic support page for a comprehensive list of all compatible devices, including popular models from Canon, Epson, HP, Samsung, Brother, and a ton of other noteworthy manufacturers. AirPrint functionality is also the same across all iPhone models, which makes the software incredibly easy to use no matter if you have an iPhone 5c or a 6S Plus.

Step 1 — Connect to Wi-Fi

In order to use AirPrint, both your printer and iPhone must be connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Keep in mind there may be multiple networks available in an office setting and you might have to enable the AirPrint function depending on your printer. Check your printer’s manual or the manufacturer’s website for a more detailed instructions about how to turn on the function and connect to Wi-Fi.

Step 2 — Select the printer

Check the connection between your iPhone and the printer by opening an AirPrint-supported app such as Mail, Safari, or Evernote. Most apps will feature a familiar arrow that resembles a forward or reply email icon. Tap the icon, select Print and your printer should appear as the selected device by default. Otherwise, tap Select Printer at the top and allow your iPhone to scan for nearby printers.

Step 3 — Choose the number of copies

Select the number of copies you want to print by tapping the addition and subtraction arrows to the right of Copy. Obviously at least one copy is mandatory, but you can print up to a total of 99 pages at once if you’re feeling trigger happy. You can also tap Options to reveal color options and which pages to print (if there are multiple pages).

AirPrint on iOS

Step 4 — Print

Once you’ve selected the printer and the number of pages you want, hit Print in the top-right corner of the page. You can cancel your print job or check its status by double-tapping the Home button, choosing Print Center while in the App Switcher, and tapping Cancel Printing.

AirPrint - Cancel Print

Print using email

Did you think people were the only ones with email addresses? Many of Epson and HP’s new models feature HP ePrint or Epson Email Print for printing anywhere in the world by simply emailing a photo or document file to your printer’s assigned email. Once set up, the process is relatively easy and straightforward, requiring you to merely send an email from your iPhone to your email-compatible printer. This is obviously not an option for all users and printer models, but it is available for many models, such as the Epson Expression and WorkForce series as well as most recent HP printers.

Step 1 — Activate email printing

Assuming you have an email-compatible printer, the first thing you need to do is activate the email function. The enabling process will vary from device to device — Epson users are going to want to activate Epson Connect, for instance — but the entire process should be outlined in greater detail in your printer’s manual or on the manufacturer’s website. The printer will be assigned a default email address upon activation, which will likely amount to a series of random characters at a specified domain name, but you can change this later to something you’ll actually remember. Although your iPhone doesn’t need to be connected to the same wireless network as your printer in order to use email printing, the printer will still be required to connect via Wi-Fi as opposed to a standard USB cable.

Step 2 — Print

If set up properly, all you need to do is email a document or image from your iPhone to your printer and it will automatically print the file to the default specifications — typically letter size on plain paper unless you adjusted the default settings during activation. Your printer won’t accept all file formats, but should be able to handle files from Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, as well as JPGs, GIFS, and PNGs, among others. Check your printer for details regarding acceptable file formats, size, and the number of printable attachments you can include per email.

Print using other software

If both AirPrint and email printing are not viable options, you can always settle for software directly from your printer’s manufacturer or another third-party source. We recommend snagging Presto (formerly FingerPrint) and downloading the free iOS app; it’s compatible with nearly all printers. There’s a version available for Android and Chrome, which allow you to print from devices connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your computer and printer.

Alternatively, you can use your printer manufacturer’s free proprietary app — i.e. Epson iPrint, HP ePrint, or Samsung Mobile Print. However, we cannot guarantee that the printing apps will work for all printer models, nor do all manufacturers have an accompanying app for their products.

Step 1 — Download and install the application

Once you decide on an application, head to the manufacturer’s website or the apps’ corresponding page in the App Store. Then, download and install the app.

Step 2 — Launch the application

Next, launch the application either on your computer or iPhone.

Step 3 — Connect to Wi-Fi

In order to use Presto, both your printer and iPhone must be connected to the same Wi-Fi network, whether you’re using a wireless printer or one physically connected to a computer that uses Wi-Fi. Check your printer’s manual or the manufacturer’s website for more detailed instructions about how to connect to Wi-Fi.

Presto also has a feature known as Magic Queue that allows you to save print jobs until you’re connected to Wi-Fi again. It’s perfect for those situations where you have something to print, but aren’t near a network or printer. To enable the feature, begin by launching an app like Notes or one that has a box with an arrow pointing out of it icon. Tap said icon, select the More option, and toggle Preston on. When you have something you want to save, hit the same box icon in the top-right corner, then tap Presto. You’ll be directed to a new page where Presto’s Magic Queue has already been chosen as the default printer. Hit Print to save your print job.

Enabling Presto

Step 4 — Select the printer

Check the connection between your iPhone and the printer by opening an app such as Mail, Safari, or Evernote. Most apps will feature a familiar arrow that resembles a forward or reply icon, or a box with an arrow pointing up. Tap the icon, select Print, and your printer should appear as the selected device by default. If not, tap Select Printer at the top and allow your iPhone to scan any printers you checked in Step 2. Also, your computer must be awake in order to access the printer.

Step 5 — Choose the number of copies

Select the number of copies you want to print by tapping the addition and subtraction arrows to the right of Copy. Obviously at least one copy is mandatory, but you can print up to a total of 99 pages at once if you’re feeling trigger happy.

Step 6 — Print

Once you’ve selected the printer and the number of pages you want, hit the Print button in the top-right corner of the page. You can cancel your print job or check its status by double-tapping the Home button to bring up the App Switcher and choosing Print Center, or the print summary equivalent for the app you’re using.

Print with Google Cloud Print

You can do nearly anything with Google, and printing is no exception. This is only for printing from web pages, however. You can use Google Cloud to print from your email, but you have to pull the email up in Chrome to do that, which is harder than simply using the email app. Once you set up the email app, it works efficiently.

Step 1 — Get a Google account

If you have somehow made it this far without creating a Google account, make one now by going to Google and clicking Sign Up. Then, follow the steps to create a profile.

Step 2 — Download the PrintCentral Pro app for your iPad or iPhone

Cloud Print only works on versions of Chrome prior to version 50. Fortunately, Google has provided a list of other apps compatible with Cloud Print, and of those for iOS, there’s only PrintCentral Pro. Thankfully, the app is available for free from the App Store. Once downloaded, launch it.

Step 3 — Choose something you want to print

Bring up the menu in the top left of the PrintCentral app — it’s represented by three horizontal lines — and choose what you want to print, be it a webpage, file, email, or image. If it’s an email, you’ll need to add your email account. Files, on the other hand, must be added to iCloud, while images require you to allow Google access to your photos. When you’ve found what you want to print, hit the printer icon in the top-right corner.

Step 4 — Add printers

You’ll be taken to a page called Printer (WiFi). Press the addition sign in the top-right corner to add a printer, and at the bottom should be Google Cloud Printing. Select that, type in your gmail address, and tap the blue Save button.

Step 6 — Print

If everything works correctly, you’ll be taken to a print page, with Google Cloud Printing chosen and whatever you’re trying to print shown at the top of the screen. Here, you’ll also see an option to Save to Google Drive and one to change your printer settings, if desired. At the bottom of the page will be options to Print Later, Preview, and Print. Press Print if everything is to your liking.