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iPad Q&A - Revised October 30, 2015

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How do you print directly from the iPad without transferring files to a computer first? It is possible?

Upon the unveiling of the original iPad, Apple stated that to print a file from any of the iWork iPad applications -- whether it was Pages, Numbers, or Keynote -- you needed to "send it to your computer via e-mail, public beta, or File Sharing in iTunes."

Thankfully, times have changed since the original iPad was released. On November 22, 2010, with the release of iOS 4.2 for the iPad, Apple added "AirPrint" capability that initially allowed one to officially print directly to a number of compatible Hewlett-Packard printers.

Epson released several AirPrint compatible printers shortly thereafter and Brother, Canon, Ricoh, Xerox and others have followed. Apple maintains a full list of AirPrint compatible printers that may be of interest.

How to Print with AirPrint

For those who have one, AirPrint compatible printers definitely make life easy. Some Wi-Fi enabled printer manufacturers also provide their own software that can be used to print from an iPad.

Nevertheless, to print with AirPrint from your iPad, it's a simple process:

1) Make sure that both the printer and the iPad are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

2) Touch the "Action" button within the iPad application you would like to print.

Using iOS 7 and later, the action button looks like:

Using iOS 4.2, iOS 5, or iOS 6, the action button looks like:

3) Select the "Print" option.

Note that when using iOS 7 or later, oddly, the "Print" option is partially cut off on the right edge. You can select it regardless or drag to the left to make it completely visible as shown below:

Image Credit:

4) Within the "Printer Options" box, select the printer by name (if it isn't selected automatically or there are multiple AirPrint compatible printers on the network) and the number of copies you would like to print.

Image Credit: (iOS 6 -- Left, iOS 7 & Later -- Right)

5) Finally, touch the "Print" button.

That's it! Quite easy, really.

Software to Print Directly from an iPad via Mac and Windows

For those on a budget or who already have a quality printer that does not support AirPrint, third-party software options also are available to install on your Mac or Windows computer. These applications, in turn, make it possible to print from the iPad without the need to transfer the file to the Mac or Windows box.

Specifically, two commercial options include eCamm Printopia (for Mac OS X 10.5.8 and newer) and Collobos Presto (for Windows XP SP3 and newer).

Image Credit: eCamm Network LLC

These apps make it possible to share just about all unsupported printers with all iPad models -- as well as iPhone and iPod touch devices -- running iOS 4.2 or higher. eCamm Printopia is available for a one time charge of US$19.95 whereas Collobos Presto starts at US$1.95 per month.

For Mac users interested in free options running Mac OS X 10.6 or later on a Core 2 Duo or faster Mac, handyPrint (formerly called AirPrint Activator) makes it possible for any shared printer to be visible on an iPad running iOS 4.2 or later, as well.

The handyPrint application is made available for free, but the author is accepting donations. If you find it useful, strongly recommends that you make a donation to support the programmer's kindness and the app's continued development.

Software to Print Directly from an iPad to a Wireless Printer

For most users without an AirPrint compatible printer, one of the unofficial software options above -- Printopia, Presto, or handyPrint -- should be more than sufficient.

However, there may be scenarios where you encounter a wireless printer but either cannot or would prefer not to install software on a supporting Mac or Windows PC. Perhaps you are traveling and find that the wireless printer in the hotel business center -- despite costing an outrageous amount to print per page -- does not support AirPrint and you would prefer to not also have to pay to use their computer or you have security concerns about using it.

There are a number of iPad apps that make it possible to print directly from an iPad to many, but not all, non-AirPrint capable wireless printers without the need for supporting Mac or Windows software. Two quality options are EuroSmartz PrintCentral and Readdle Printer Pro.

However, both of these programs also are provided with free supporting software -- WePrint and Printer Pro Desktop, respectively -- to use if needed or desired. In particular, Readdle notes that with the Printer Pro Desktop supporting software it is possible to print additional document types and with better quality than with Printer Pro alone.

Ultimately, whether or not you have an AirPrint capable printer, there are many options to print from the iPad to USB-equipped home printers, networked office printers, and wireless printers alike. The above software options make it simple.

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