PC-Free Printing, Scanning, and Copying With Your AIO

Today's AIOs use memory cards, printer apps, and the cloud, not just PCs

Graphical control panels like HP's allow you to use your printer without a PC. HP

You can use a printer without a computer. “PC-free” operation refers to a printer that can perform without having to receive data or commands from a PC. These devices can scan or print content from storage devices, mobile apps, cloud printing services, and more.

Most PC-free operations are initiated from the control panel or display, which often consists of large, graphical touch screen similar to tablet and smartphone displays. Most are intuitive, making issuing PC-free commands exceptionally easy.

In this guide we cover the ins and outs of PC-free printing, including all the different platforms from which a PC-free print job can be launched.

PC-Free Operation with Memory Devices

Most printers support some sort of memory card—either SD cards, USB thumb drives, or multimedia cards. Some all-in-one (AIO) printers accept several different types of memory storage devices. These allow you to print from or scan to the memory device. That means you can print from computers that are not connected to the printer, or from digital cameras, tablets, and smartphones by simply removing the memory card and then inserting it into the printer.

In addition, some printers, such as Canon’s Pixma iP8720, allow you to print wirelessly from your digital camera with a new feature called “wireless PictBridge.”

Mobile Device Apps

Nowadays, most printer manufacturers develop and make apps that are designed to work with mobile devices. These apps are usually available from the Apple App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android).

Cloud Printing

Most modern printers support and can receive print jobs from a variety of cloud storage services, the most common being Google Cloud Print. In addition to providing a place to save documents and photos online, you can send documents to the printer from any internet connection.

Printer Apps

Similar in concept to mobile apps, printer apps connect the printer to the internet and allow you to print documents stored on various sites. Some printer apps also allow you to scan to cloud sites. Depending on the printer (and the manufacturer), the number and sophistication of printer apps vary. HP has developed this concept much further than most other companies, with an ever-growing collection of apps that include numerous news, entertainment, and business outlets that between them provide thousands of documents, including business forms, puzzles, and games for printing.

A more recent HP printer apps feature allows you to schedule news stories and other documents on a predefined schedule. Say, for example, you want a specific section of a certain publication. All you have to do is set up the app from the printer’s control panel to print it out each day. The document will be waiting for you on the printer at the designated time.