A lot of people have asked me how to print from the Android platform. Printing is an incredibly challenging issue — even desktops have issues with printing. But the mobile platform is an entirely different beast. Printer manufacturers are only now starting to recognize the validity of printing from mobile devices.
While most printer drivers being released for the mobile platform are generic (so you wind up printing only in black and white and without all the bells and whistles you've grown accustomed to), it's still possible to print from Android with PrinterShare Mobile Print.
Sure, there are other print tools available, but of all the apps I've tried on the Android platform, PrinterShare Mobile Print is the best. However, it's not perfect. For example, PrinterShare only allows printing from:
- Web Pages
- Call Log
- Google Docs
If you have an email account other than Gmail, you'll have to forward that email to your Gmail account to print it. Really, it's a small price to pay for such an easy-to-use application. Just how easy is it? Let's take a look.
There are two versions:
- PrinterShare Mobile Print Free: Limited printing to printers connected to PC
- PrinterShare Mobile Print Premium: Unlimited printing, as well as nearby direct printing via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth without PC, nearby printing to PC or Mac shared printers, and unlimited remote printing. The receiving end (Mac or PC) doesn't have to buy pages or subscribe.
Obviously, you should purchase the full version for $12.95 (USD). But before you do that, install the free version and print a test page to make sure everything works as expected.
The installation of PrinterShare Mobile Print is simple:
- Open up the Android Market app
- Do a search for "printer share"
- Install the free version of the application by tapping Install, and then tap Accept & Download
Don't worry, if PrinterShare works out and you want to purchase the full version, all you need to do is install the Premium Key.
Now that you have the app installed, it's time to get it up and running. First, you need to set up your default printer by following these steps.Step 1: Open up the app Open the PrinterShare app. From the main screen (see Figure A), tap your phone's Menu button. Figure A
If you see "Not selected" under printer, you know that you haven't successfully set up your printer.
From the menu pop-up, tap on the type of printer you want to set up. I'm going to set up a network printer, so I'll choose Nearby Printers (WiFi).Step 2: Select your printer In the newly-opened screen (see Figure B), select your desired printer from the list. Figure B
As you can see, PrinterShare will also list domain and workgroup printers.When you tap the printer, a prompt will open (see Figure C), telling you that the app needs to download some requisite files. Allow this. Now, there's a caveat to this step. You can't have your mobile plugged into your PC as a USB Mass Storage Device. It can be plugged in, as long as it's only charging. If USB Mass Storage is connected, the application won't be able to create the necessary directories and files it needs on the SD card. These files hold the printer drivers, so they are necessary. Figure C
Not all printers will be found in the listed printers.
In many instances, especially with laser printers, if your printer is not listed in PrinterShare, try the "Use Generic" option.
Once you've done that, you'll see a warning that tells you the Driver Pack must be downloaded. Tap Yes, and wait for the download to finish. This download is 4 MB, so make sure you have enough space on your SD card. After the pack downloads, you should be able to select the driver for the printer.Step 3: Test the printer Go to the main PrinterShare screen and select an app to print from. Once you get to the item you want to print, tap the Print button, and then tap the second Print button (see Figure D). Figure D
From the Options button, you can set page margins/orientation, paper size/source, printout mode, and duplex mode.
After you tap the Print button, a new window will appear (if you haven't already purchased the Premier version) that allows you to buy the app from the Android Market (or from PayPal) or print a test page. Tap the Print Test Page button to make sure your printer works. If it does, go forward with the purchase of the full app, and you'll have a working print service on your Android mobile.
It's not perfect, but PrinterShare Mobile Print will have you printing from your Android device easily and quickly. And at just under $13.00 (USD), it's well worth having instead of using print services that cost you an annual or per-print fee.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.