The iPad is more than a games machine. Pair it with a keyboard and office suite and you’ve got a fully-fledged laptop replacement. The same is true of the iPhone – particularly now that Office365 subscribers can use it to edit native files in mobile editions of Excel and Word.
The trouble is, without a USB port – and with no way to install any drivers – printing looks like the missing link. It’s all very well being able to create and edit documents, but what about those times you need a hard copy of a vital email, printed directions for a forthcoming journey or a paper based recipe so you don’t have to tap and swipe your screen with pastry chef fingers?
It’s a problem that's easy to work around, as we’ll show you here, with four different ways to print your documents from an iPad or iPhone.
How to print from an iPhone or iPad: AirPrint
AirPrint is Apple's officially authorised means of printing from its mobile devices. It was introduced with the iOS 4.2 update, and adds a print function to a wide variety of applications. In Pages, Numbers and Keynote you'll find Print under Tools | Share and Print. In Mail, tap the reply button and pick Print from the menu. In Safari, tap the shortcut button to the left of the address bar and then tap Print.
AirPrint adds native printing features to a wide range of applications, including Pages, Numbers and Keynote.
AirPrint is compatible with all iPads, the iPhone 3G and later, and the third generation iPod touch onwards. You'll also need a compatible AirPrint printer. These were originally only produced by Canon, but each of the leading manufacturers now has a selection of compatible devices in its range.
They aren't expensive, either. Shop around and you can pick up an HP Deskjet 3520 for around £45, and an all-in-one multifunction device such as the Canon Pixma MG3250 for £50.
Setting it up is easy, and quite literally a two-tap process. The first time you send a document to print, iOS opens the Printer Options dialogue. Tap Select Printer and it scans your network for compatible devices. When it finds one, tap the printer name to return to the Printer Options dialog and complete the process.
You can now specify how many copies you need (and whether to print double-sided if your printer has a built-in duplexer) and tap the Print button to output your file.
Setting up AirPrint is a two-tap process, after which you’ll have access to your printer’s specific built-in features.