Mobility

How to print from Gmail and Inbox on iOS: 7 methods

Google's email apps for iOS—Gmail and Inbox—lack the ability to print. But, with a bit of work, you can still print your email and attachments.

Desktop printing from Gmail or Inbox takes three taps:

  1. Tap one: Pick the More menu to the upper-right of an email,
  2. Tap two: Choose the Print option from the menu, then
  3. Tap three: Select the Print button to print.

But printing from Gmail or Inbox on iOS takes work. As of June 2017, neither of Google's iOS email apps provide a print option. You read that correctly. The iOS email apps from Google, formerly a "mobile-first" company, omit the option to print.

So, if you want to print from Gmail or Inbox on iOS, you'll need to get creative. Here are seven ways to print email (and attachments) from these apps on your iPhone or iPad—until Google's AI-first, machine learning systems figure out how to add the ability to print directly. (Note: You'll need a printer that supports AirPrint, Google Cloud Print , or printing via email for some of these options to work.)

1. Screenshot

For short emails, the simplest method may be to take a screenshot (press home and power simultaneously), open the Photos app, select your screenshots, tap share, then print. Elegant? Not really. But it works.

2. Text to Note

Another approach is to select the text of an email, then save it as a new Apple Note (Tap to select > Select all > Share > Add to Notes > Save). Next, open the Notes app, select your note, tap share, then choose print. (Don't get clever and try to share your text to Google Keep. As of June 2017, Keep on iOS also leaves out the ability to print.)

Screenshot showing text of an email about to be saved to the Notes app

One way to print email contents: Select all text, share to the Notes app, the print the note.

3. Print images and PDF attachments

In either Gmail or Inbox, tap on a PDF or attached image to view it, then select the share menu in the upper right, then choose print. While this works for PDF files and images, you'll need the next option to print files in other formats, such as Microsoft Office.

4. Save to Drive, then print

Another way to print attachments and emails is to save the item to Google Drive, then print from Drive. I see two ways to do this on iOS: One within Google's apps, the other within Safari on iOS.

To save an attachment to Google Drive from Inbox or Gmail, open your email, tap on an attachment, then tap the Save to Drive icon (this looks like the Google Drive icon with a + in the lower right corner of the Drive triangle). By default, items you save this way are saved to your main Google Drive directory. After you save an item, you'll seen an option to Move the item at the bottom of your screen—tap this to move your file.

To print Microsoft Office documents saved to Google Drive, select the file, tap the menu button in the upper right, choose Share & export, then Print. You'll see available Google Cloud Printers and nearby AirPrint printers.

You can also convert the body of an email into a PDF on Google Drive. To do this, login to Gmail in Safari on iOS, open your email, then tap the triangle in the upper right corner. Choose Print. You may see a couple of options: One of those will be Save to Google Drive. Tap that option to save your document as a PDF in Google Drive, navigate to Google Drive (either in the browser or Google Drive mobile app), select your PDF, and print. You'll see the contents of the email.

Screenshot of Gmail print option in Safari browser on iOS

Login to Gmail in Safari on iOS, choose an email, then tap the triangle in the upper right, then Print. Choose 'Save to Drive' to create a PDF of the body of your email on Drive. Then print the PDF from Google Drive.

5. Email to print

Your printer might have an email address, and anything sent to that email address will route to the printer as a print job. While the setup process varies for different vendors, all require you to connect your device to the internet and associate it with a specific email address.

I've added my printer's email address as a contact. So, to print an email from Inbox or Gmail, I forward an email to my printer's email address. The body of the email prints, as do any attached files. (Importantly, I've also configured HP to accept only print jobs sent from specific email addresses to prevent printed email spam.)

Screenshot of HP print-to-email website

If your printer has an email address, forward an item to it to print both the body and contents of any attachment.

6. Mail app

The Apple iOS Mail app supports AirPrint for email and attachments. First, configure your email account in Settings > Mail > Accounts > Add Account > then add a Google account (or, if you use G Suite, you may also choose Exchange). When you open an email, tap the reply arrow and choose Print to print the message, or tap on an attachment, select the share box, and choose Print to print attached files.

7. Other third-party apps

Third-party apps, such as Printer Pro and PrintCentral Pro, enable printing of data saved to the clipboard, as well as files. For example, while in an email in Inbox or Gmail, tap, select all text, choose copy, then open the Printer Pro app and choose Clipboard, choose your printer and print. Unlike when you copy and save text to the Notes app, Printer Pro preserves most email formatting. The app handles printing attachments, too.

Good for the environment?

Maybe the inability to print from Google's email iOS apps is part of a Google environmental initiative to reduce paper use, extend the life of plastic-filled printers, and lower demand for ink. Perhaps eventually no app will offer the ability to print? Until then, the above methods will help you get email and attachments from Inbox and/or Gmail onto paper.

If you use Google's Gmail or Inbox apps, do you ever need to print an email or attachment? If so, how do you complete the task? Let me know on Twitter (@awolber) or in the comments!

Also see

Photo of an HP print with Google iOS app logos for Gmail and Inbox overlayed in the center
Image: Andy Wolber / TechRepublic

About Andy Wolber

Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.

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