How to Print From Your iPad

how-to-print-from-your-ipad photo 1

5 Ways to Print From Your Tablet

As Apple iPads have become commonplace in many homes, as well as essential tools for many businesses, the demand for effective solutions to print from them has grown. A variety of printing methods have emerged to meet this need. They fall into five general categories, which we'll visit here: Apple's own AirPrint utility; print server utilities to be installed on a computer on your Wi-Fi network; manufacturers' and third-party iOS printing apps; cloud printing services; and email printing. As many of the solutions are OS-dependent, most iPad printing solutions are similar to, and in many cases identical to, the solutions for printing from iPhones.


Since late 2010, Apple's own AirPrint utility, incorporated into iOS versions since 4.2, has been a quick and easy way to print from a Wi-Fi-connected iPad to a compatible printer on the same network. All iPad models support AirPrint. The utility has a limited selection of print options, letting you choose the number of copies, plus a few other details. The good news is most recent wireless printers support AirPrint.

With AirPrint you can print documents from Apple programs such as Photos, Safari, Mail, and iPhoto, as well as many third-party apps. When you open a document in an AirPrint-compatible program, you can access the Share button through an icon (usually a forward arrow) at the top or bottom of the screen. It should reveal a print option (as well as social media sharing options). Press Print, and the Printer Options screen should appear. Press Select Printer, and the app will search for AirPrint-compatible printers on your Wi-Fi network. Once you choose a printer, you're ready to go.

Print Server Utilities

If your printer doesn't support AirPrint, utilities are available that in effect can make it AirPrint-compatible. (The printer can even be USB connected, as long as it's on a Wi-Fi network.) These programs function as print servers, and can be installed on a computer on your network. With Printopia, for instance, you need to install the software on a Mac. Presto (which was previously known as FingerPrint 2 at the time we reviewed it) is compatible with both Windows and Mac.

Print servers tend to add some extras to AirPrint functionality; Presto is also compatible with Google Cloud Print, and allows iOS devices to discover printers via unicast Domain Name Servers (DNS) instead of the (allegedly less reliable) multicast DNS that AirPrint itself uses in discovering printers; and Printopia lets you "print" a copy of the file you're printing, to your Mac, to DropBox, Evernote, and several similar Cloud-based services.

Printing Apps

Nearly all of the major printer manufacturers now offer apps that let you print from your iPad (or other iOS device) to their branded Wi-Fi printers. The iPhone and printer must be on the same Wi-Fi network; if the printer is compatible, the app should readily detect it.

These apps generally let you print a variety of document types, and in many cases have their own browser (with limited features) for loading and printing Web pages. Some of these apps are rather bare bones, while others, such as Samsung Mobile Print and Epson iPrint, let you initiate scans from your iPad as well as offering a variety of printing functions. Many of these apps integrate with various Cloud services to allow printing from them as well.

Third-party app makers have also gotten in on the fun. Thinxtream Technologies, for instance, offers the PrintJinni app, which lets you print from an iPad to compatible printers from a number of manufacturers.

Cloud Printing

Cloud printing services such as Cortado's ThinPrint Cloud Printer and Google Cloud Print let you send a file from your iPad to their respective Cloud service, which processes it into a printable form and sends it to a printer designated by you or your company.

One advantage of cloud printing is that you can print to the cloud printer from anywhere (as long as you're connected to the Internet); another is that you can print to it from multiple platforms: desktops, laptops, and mobile devices running other operating systems. A drawback is that they tend to support printing from a limited selection of apps, which are usually major productivity apps, but often not the iPad's email client or Safari. Google Cloud Print is predictably centered on the Google ecosystem; with an iOS device, you can print from Chrome, Gmail, Google Docs, and other Google apps, but little else. PrintCentral Pro is one of the few iOS apps that let you print a variety of document types to Google Cloud Print.

Email Printing

HP, through its ePrint feature (not to be confused with the HP ePrint Home & Biz mobile printing app), and Epson, with Epson Connect's Email Print, offer a nifty printing solution. When you sign up, your printer is assigned an email address. When you email documents to it (from your iPad or any other device or computer, from anywhere in the world, the printer will automatically print them out.

Strength in Numbers

As iPads have grown in abundance and utility, so have the methods available to print from them. Which of these is the best solution depends on your needs. AirPrint offers quick and easy Wi-Fi printing, but not all printers are compatible with it. Printing apps generally offer more features than the other methods, but only are supported by specific branded printers. Email printing is a great method, but only a few select printers offer it. Cloud printing services are best suited to offices, or to people who use the productivity apps they tend to support.

In most cases, if need be, you can combine several of these methods to increase your ability to print from different apps and printers, and to print different document types. There isn't a one-size-fits-all iPad printing method, but between these different methods you should be able to find an effective solution that works for you.

Apple fans can also check out our roundup of the best printers for Macs.

Recommended stories

More stories