iPad

How to print from an iPad: The best apps for business users

Erik Eckel tells you how to print from your iPad and recommends a couple of printing apps to fit most business-user needs.

It's a fair, and common, question: How do you print from an iPad? Unfortunately, the answer isn't so simple. Out-of-the-box, you don't.

Many users are surprised to learn that you can't just print directly from within the iPad. Like seemingly everything else within Apple's popular lineup of iPods, iPhones, and iPads, there's an app for that.

I have to buy an app to print?

The short answer is yes, users must purchase a third-party application to print using an iPad. There's no Print & Fax menu within the iPad's Settings screen as there is within Mac OS X's System Preferences console.

Before shouting foul, consider the reality of printing today. It's becoming increasingly less necessary. So many tasks and services are turning paperless. Lest you think I've become an Apple apologist, know I used my iPad, day in and day out, for six full months before encountering the need to print directly from the handheld tablet. But occasions are going to arise in which it is inconvenient to transfer a file via e-mail or the cloud to a laptop or desktop system, or in which another computer is simply unavailable, when needing to print a plane ticket, e-mail message, Web page or even a map or driving directions.

The question, then, becomes which application works best? While there are several options, two leap to the forefront. Interestingly, both come from EuroSmartz Ltd.

PrintCentral for iPad

Weighing in at just 5.5MB, the $9.99 application, is currently in version 1.6.0. The app, which is among the highest-rated of any iPad printing software, provides the ability to print directly from an iPad to most Wi-Fi or shared printers. Free print software (WePrint) makes short work of connecting to other printers using printers installed on Macs or PCs. The application also enables printing remotely via 3G/EDGEPrint to printers used by your Mac or PC using USB, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, shared or network printers.

I've personally used PrintCentral. My iPad had no trouble connecting and printing to a Wi-Fi HP printer at my house. Better yet, I was up and running, from application purchase and installation to printing, via my iPad in less than two minutes. However, PrintCentral was unable to connect to a networked Brother multifunction printer linked via wired Ethernet to the LAN.

Fortunately, resolution was easy and required less than five minutes. I followed the simple instructions included with the app to download and install free WePrint software on one of my home systems. The iPad then immediately found the Brother printer and printed with no issues.

For less than ten bucks, PrintCentral includes a boatload of additional features. Using the application, you can access shared files on other computers, share files from the iPad with other computers, move files between devices using iDisk or WebDAV, print photos, open attachments from Apple Mail and print them, open documents within PrintCentral directly into iWork and open and print files within PrintCentral from any other application that supports the "Open In" feature common to many apps.

PrintCentral also enables iPad users to print shipping labels. One other feature that separates PrintCentral from other printing apps is its ability to print or move the contents of multiple clipboard files.

Print n Share for iPad

Print n Share is just 8.6MB and costs $8.99. Currently in version 4.2.4, the software enables printing directly to most Wi-Fi or shared printers. As with PrintCentral, USB and Bluetooth printers can be used by leveraging free corresponding printing software. 3G/EDGEPrint, meanwhile, enables printing remotely to all printers used by a Mac or a PC.

Print n Share also supports email features, including printing email messages and attachments and accessing multiple email accounts. Document support includes viewing and printing Office and iWork files and navigating a computer's folders to locate specific files.

As with PrintCentral, Print n Share enables mounting an iPad (or iPhone or iPod) as a network disk from a Mac or PC computer, moving or printing documents via iDisk, printing contacts, printing photos and more.

Other options

While other options exist, I believe these two apps will serve most business users best. Free or lesser-priced apps are often designed to print only to a single make of printer or might only print one format, such as photos. When you're on the road or working remotely within other offices, the likelihood you'll find a friendly shared printer or Wi-Fi network is pretty high. That means, for less than ten dollars, printing from the iPad can prove just a few clicks away.

About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

26 comments
Leova2
Leova2

I use Beesy as a productivity app. It helps me to generate my Todo List and also send my minutes after a meeting. I can have a good recap of the meeting and print it. Very useful to share your ideas and what you learned from the meeting.

Stalemate
Stalemate

"Many users are surprised to learn that you can?t just print directly from within the iPad." And yet, when you understand it's not a computer, but a networked multimedia platform whose main purpose is receiving data, not distributing it... Anyone purchasing this device for a corporate environment thinking it's a laptop (or laptop replacement) points to a lack of prior analysis and understanding user needs. Back on topic: good finds there.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

This isn't about printing in the future, after an OS update, this is about how to print with the limited yet overstated functionality of the device today.

BrianDubya
BrianDubya

Unfortunately for many of us (iPad fanboys), IOS 4.2 will only print via a (new) HP wireless printer or a printer attached to a MAC, running Snow Leopard as I recall. I will need to print to a wireless enabled Brother MFC printer attached to a Toshiba running XP Pro via USB, an older tech HP PhotoSmart attached to a MAC mini running Leopard (not SNOW Leopard). Luckily I do have one printer attached to a Snow Leopard MAC, tho it is an older tech OfficeJet.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

[i]"And yet, when you understand it's not a computer, but a networked multimedia platform whose main purpose is receiving data, not distributing it..."[/i] ...you realize how limited and all but useless it is for the money you paid and what you COULD have bought that actually gets the job done. User needs:Read newspaper User solutions: A) Spend 50 cents on newspaper B) Spend $500 for iPad buy a monthly unlimited data plan buy monthly subscription to electronic newspaper

Erik Eckel
Erik Eckel

I don't consider untested, unsupported hacks a good way to attempt mission critical tasks, such as printing. Using well-tested third-party supported apps that are proven in the field strikes me as a worthwhile solution, especially when I see it improving productivity and efficiency in the field every day. Some day the iPad will support printing natively. Maybe next month. But when the item published that wasn't an option.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Wear the tinfoil hat, stand one one leg while singing KumBaYah, lick one finger and insert it into socket B3 while the phone is ringing. Fantastic, functionality to them toys! Why I don't run out and buy one is just beyond me.

bastokyg
bastokyg

From what I understand, iOS4.2 is just the first step in allowing users to print from their iPads. The next release, 4.3, should give us more printing options. I'm waiting on that before I purchase a printing app from the App Store.

Chief Bottle Washer
Chief Bottle Washer

Bunch of morons can't see the obvious - ipad is just a glorified ipod touch - it's not supposed to do real world work! Only good for entertainment! Idiots

Slayer_
Slayer_

Stop posting obvious things. Your pissing off the Mac fanboys.

brownoldshoes
brownoldshoes

Most of us have careers, a home life and are furthering our education. We need to print for all those reasons. The graphics are great but there are many of us business owners who like to use the iPad for work and lighten our load for travel amongst other reasons. Open your mind to other things in your life instead of cynicism.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I never BLAMED anyone. Are my comments not fact then?

JamesRL
JamesRL

Trudeau certainly polarized things. He made the Federal government stronger, and the provinces weaker. That alienated a few Quebecers. He implemented the war measures act against the terrorists in Quebec, in hindsight an overreaction. That alienated a few Quebecers. He was a strong proponent of official bilingualism. That made a few Quebecers think they had a shot at language equality in Canada. He managed to patriate the consitution, in part to allow Canada to make changes, which may have been used to accomodate Quebec's wanting a "new deal". He didn't get Quebec to sign off on the constituional deal. That pissed off the separatists. The separatists think Trudeau was a traitor. But how could any Prime Minister who supports one Canada including Quebec ever make them happy? By the way Oz, it was the British back in 1774 who passed the Quebec act, which meant that in Quebec, civil law would work on the French system, and criminal law would work on the English common law. So blame your ancestors.....

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

'e was a great man but dere are some tings like dis and dat which are, ow you say, different in Kay-bec! ;) Just teasin' ya! As for significance, I'll never forget and many others won't, no matter how much the government tries to diminish it's significance. Gawd when you consider the role that Canadian soldiers played in WWI, Europe will never forget, why the heck should we? :O Ypres, Vimy Ridge, The Somme, Paschendale ? Yeah, all easily forgettable Canadian battles in WWI.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Of course, Quebec is barely part of Canada anyways. Its all Trudeau's fault.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Considering the population and number of veterans there must be in the GTO area? You have the biggest ceremony in Canada! I always watch it before ours begins.

JamesRL
JamesRL

They used to give the kids the day off school, but they decided to have them attend school and have an assembly instead. My daughter was one of the speakers, and made her best friend cry.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Quebec has it' sown legal system, which is a big farce really. They ignore all provincial labour laws and put the company in control, like US employment laws do. That's why I never work for Quebec owned companies anymore, they think that Quebec labour laws, thus their ridiculous employee contracts, should apply nationwide. I'm just tired of legal amendments before I sign an employment contract with them and lawsuits every time I leave the company and have to sue them for not adhering to provincial laws. What they don't realize, again as is the case with most US companies operating here, is that regardless of who's legal terms the contract STATES it covers, it CANNOT be used to bind another province's employees to YOUR pvince or state laws. They try though! By signing this contract you agree that you are relinquishing legal recourse under provincial law and are hereby bound to Quebec law (blah blah blah etc.) If you sign it, it is irrelevant, you can't simply relinquish your rights that way. I have argued this time and time again with companies from Washington, California, Florida, Alabama and of course Quebec, but they just DON'T get it. If you conduct business in a state or province other than your own, you need your legal team to make sure your contracts are obligating to whomever signs it. Just because your HO is somewhere else, it doesn't mean that your laws apply too. rambling on: It was pretty funny when we refused to go in and open the office one day, due to a provincial holiday, and everyone at the HO in Quebec has to work. The boss actually said that he'd fly to Vancouver and hire a competitor's employees for the day and have THEM run the office...needless to say, they laughed at him too when it was proposed to their boss. Freakin' Quebecois employers! Tabernac! ;) Anyway, it became a REAL issue when we were paid a day short for refusing to go to work due to not being paid for the holiday(while on salary?!) and refused to open the office that day too. THEN he found out that he had to pay us for when we refused to work THAT day because we are to be paid while refuting payment! LOL, they just don't get it. In any province other than Quebec, or any US state, the employee has the upper hand, not the employer. Don't screw with the boys in BC, it'll bite you in the bum! ]:)

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

It is actually illegal to open before 11, just the same as retail opening before noon on Sundays (though I think that is now 11AM, been a while since I worked that market)

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Canadian Stat holiday, Remembrance Day. Did you forget? LOL :D Well of course, Quebec has it's own laws, brilliant lot they are!

Stalemate
Stalemate

I wish that was the same here in Quebec.

Slayer_
Slayer_

November 11th is generally a holiday, even grocery stores and the like only open after noon or such.

tdrane
tdrane

Oh, must a Gov't worker......

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

It's a holiday tomorrow, I'm done with this dump in 30 mins, let me play dammit!

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