Airprint: Print anything from your iPhone and iPad

AirPrint is Apple’s proprietary technology for mobile printing. You print from your iPhone, iPod touch and Mac without a cable. The advantage of AirPrint is that you can print all kinds of document types through a wireless network (Wi-Fi). The service is supported by hundreds of iOS apps and works with printers from various manufacturers.

What is AirPrint?

AirPrint makes it possible to create high quality printing on your printer without having to install drivers. You start the print from an iOS or OS X app. All you need to do is select the desired printer in your local network. To use AirPrint you must have at least iOS 4.2 on one of the following devices:

  • iPhone 3GS or newer
  • iPod touch third generation or later
  • iPad (all models)
  • Printers with AirPrint support

Initially AirPrint was only available on HP printers, but now the support is extended. Certain printers from Brother, Canon, Dell, Epson, Fuji Xerox, Kyocera, Lenovo, Lexmark, Olivetti, Ricoh, Samsung, Sharp, Toshiba and Xerox now support AirPrint. You can find a complete overview on the Apple support page.

What can you print using AirPrint?

AirPrint lets you wirelessly print:

  • Photos (eg. Via the standard photo app)
  • Email (eg. Via the Mail app)
  • Web pages (eg. Via the Safari browser)
  • PDFs and documents (via apps like Documents by Readdle)
  • Articles you want to read later (via apps like Instapaper and Evernote)

Printing with AirPrint

You can make prints directly from iOS apps such as Mail, Safari, Camera, Maps, Pages, Numbers and Keynote. Also, third-party apps such as Dropbox, Evernote, Instapaper, and Wikipanion Documents by Readdle support AirPrint.

In all kinds of apps you’ll find a button to print. It is usually accessible via a button as shown below:
Print in iOS

Next you will see a menu as below:
iOS print menu

Or a menu with icons, such as in the Photo app:

iOS Airprint button
You may have to scroll horizontally to see the print button.

The next step is to print the document or photo. You’ll only have a few options:

iOS Airprint options
Select the printer and the amount of copies you wish to print.

Limitations of AirPrint

AirPrint printers connected to the USB port of an Apple AirPort Base Station or Time Capsule are not supported with AirPrint.
Some AirPrint printers with Wi-Fi functionality need some time to connect to a Wi-Fi network after the printer is turned on.

Printing on the Mac with AirPrint
It is also possible to print from the Mac with AirPrint. This works the same as printing as you used to. iMacs and MacBooks with OS X Mountain Lion (10.8) and later are suitable for AirPrint. The difference with the conventional method is that you do not need to install printer software and drivers if you want to print something. You can add printers nearby by going to System Preferences > Printers and scanners. If there is an AirPrint enabled printer, OS X will automatically add the printer without having to download and install printer software. You can start a print job from any application via File > Print.

It is also possible to get AirPrint working on Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7/8 computers.

Wireless printing on non-AirPrint printers
hp officejet pro X551dw airprint
Not all printers support AirPrint. If you have to deal with an unsupported printer, then you can still print using third-party apps. Examples are Printer Pro and PrintCentral for iPhone (sold separately as PrintCentral for iPad). With these apps you can print almost any document from your iPhone or iPad, with no computer required. Another option is PrinterShare or handyPrint, the former AirPrint Activator. handyPrint ensures that all local shared printers are available via AirPrint. If the printer is shared on your Mac, you will see the printer.

On the Mac, you can use handyPrint and Printopia for printing on printers that do not support AirPrint.