How to Print From An iPad

You've got 4 choices. Which one will you try?

Side by side pictures of an iPad and a Samsung printer.

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You can print wirelessly from an iPad using several different methods: AirPrint, Google CloudPrint, and using third-party apps and print servers.

How to Print From an iPad Using AirPrint

Pressing the Share button to print on an iPad

The most common and popular way of printing from an iPad involves using AirPrint, which is Apple's own protocol for enabling devices (such as iPads and iPhones) to communicate via Wi-Fi with AirPrint-compatible printers.

As you might have guessed, you'll therefore need an AirPrint-compatible printer to use AirPrint, as well as a working Wi-Fi connection. And while there are an almost-dizzying number of printers on the market, Apple fortunately compiles a loooong list of all the commercially available printers that are compatible with the protocol, a list which it updates once a month.

So, assuming you have an AirPrint-compatible printer and a serviceable Wi-Fi connection, here's what you do to print from an iPad:

  1. While in the app or webpage you'd like to print from, tap the Share icon (generally presented as a square with a vertical arrow rising out of it). In certain cases, you may have to tap the More icon instead (the More icon is often presented as three horizontal dots).

  2. From the bottom row of options presented, tap the Printer icon. It will usually be discoverable in the row displayed in gray (rather than color), and you may have to swipe to the left to find it.

  3. Tap Select Printer.

  4. Choose your printer, which once again must be AirPrint-compatible for your iPad to recognize it.

  5. Tap Print. If you'd like to print more than one copy of the page or image you're printing, tap the Plus button next to "1 Copy" before tapping Print.

How to Print From an iPad Using Google Cloud Print

The Google Cloud Print desktop page

An alternative to printing from an iPad is to use Google's Cloud Print, which like AirPrint is a Wi-Fi-enabled protocol for communicating between printers and devices. It's not as easy to use the first time as AirPrint, but it does offer some versatility that Apple doesn't offer.

Before we get too into this, you Google Cloud Print only works from inside Google apps unless you also download PrintCentral Pro. It essentially functions as a third-party Google Cloud Print app for iOS. Oh, you'll also need a Google account to use Google's Cloud Print as well as access to a Mac or Windows-based PC.

  1. Launch Google Chrome on your computer (again, not your iPad).

  2. Click the More button (usually in the top-right corner of the screen).

  3. Click Settings.

  4. Scroll down and click the Advanced tab.

  5. Click Google Cloud Print.

  6. Click Manage Cloud Print devices.

  7. Click Add printers.

  8. Click the printer you'd like to associate with Google Cloud Print, so that its box has been checked.

  9. Click the blue Add printer(s) button.

The need to associate printers with your Google account might make Cloud Print seem more complicated than AirPrint. However, one advantage it has is that it can be used with printers that aren't 'cloud-ready', so it might be worth your while if you have an older printer.

And once you've added your printer, using Cloud Print is as simple as using AirPrint. For example, if you have the Gmail app on your iPad, here's how you print using Cloud Print:

  1. Open the email you'd like to print

  2. Tap the More button (usually in the top-right corner of the screen)

  3. Tap Print

  4. Tap Google Cloud Print

  5. Tap your printer

  6. Tap Print

As mentioned above, you can normally use Cloud Print only with Google apps. However, if you download PrintCentral Pro, you'll be able to use it with non-Google apps as well.

How to Print From an iPad Using Third-Party Apps

If you can't or don't want to use either AirPrint or Google Cloud Print, one other option available for owners of more recent printers is to use the specific app that's available for such printers. Most manufacturers – including Canon, HP, and Brother – produce such apps, and they can all generally be downloaded from the App Store for free.

Similarly, you can download a third-party app, such as the aforementioned PrintCentral Pro. Other popular printing apps include Printer Pro, Print n Share, and To Print, and in most cases they let you print using not only Wi-Fi-enabled printers, but also USB printers. They can even be linked with AirPrint printers, although they generally aren't available for free. For example, as of writing, Printer Pro costs $6.99.

How to Print from an iPad: Set Up a Server

An iPad connected to a Mac and a printer
Getty Images/Bruce Gifford

Lastly, one option that lets you print from an iPad is to set up a print server on your Mac or PC. By doing this, you can send print jobs from your iPad to the server, which then sends it to your printer. You'll have to download an app onto your Mac or PC first, something which may be preferable to downloading a third-party app onto your iPad, since it will avoid cluttering the relatively limited internal memory of your iPad with extra apps.

If you're a Mac user, one of the best and most popular apps for this purpose is Printopia. Not only does this let you print from an iPad, but you can even use it to save iPad documents or files as PDFs on your Mac. However, as with third-party apps for your iPad, its full version isn't free, and will cost around $19.99.

Similar software available for PCs include OPrint and Presto. Like Printopia, they come at a cost though, so if cost is an issue, do try AirPrint and Google Cloud Print first.