Everything You Need to Know About AirPrint on iPhone

How to print to your iPhone using Airprint or other prints

AirPrint for iPhone
image credit: askinkamberoglu/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images

Printing from the iPhone is simple: you do it wirelessly, using a feature called AirPrint. That's no surprise. After all, there's no USB port to plug a printer into on an iPhone or any other iOS device.

But using AirPrint isn't quite as simple as tapping the Print button. There's a lot more to know about AirPrint, what you need to make it work, and how to fix problems with it. 

AirPrint Requirements

To use AirPrint, you need the following things:

  • iPhone 3GS or newer
  • 3rd generation iPod touch or newer
  • Any model iPad
  • iOS 4.2 running on your device
  • Access to a Wi-Fi network
  • An AirPrint-compatible printer

Which Printers Are AirPrint Compatible?

When AirPrint debuted, only Hewlett-Packard printers offered compatibility, but these days there are hundreds—maybe thousands—of printers from dozens of manufacturers that support it. Even better, there are all kinds of printers: inkjet, laser printers, photo printers, and more.

I Don't Have One of Those. Can AirPrint Print to Other Printers?

Yes, but it requires some additional software and a little extra work. In order for an iPhone to print directly to a printer, that printer needs AirPrint software built in. But if your printer doesn't have that, your desktop or laptop computer needs to understand how to work with both AirPrint and your printer.

There are a number of programs that can receive print jobs from your iPhone or other iOS device. As long as your printer is also connected to your computer (either wirelessly or via USB/Ethernet), your computer can receive data from AirPrint and then send it to the printer. 

The software you need to print this way includes:

  • handyPrint - Mac; free, with donation to upgrade to Pro
  • O'Print - Windows; $19.80; 30-Day Trial
  • Printopia - Mac; $19.99; 7-Day Trial

Is AirPrint Completely Wireless?

Yes. Unless you're using one of the programs mentioned in the last section, the only thing you need to physically connect your printer to is a power source.

Do the iOS Device and the Printer Need To Be On The Same Network?

Yes. In order for AirPrint to work, your iOS device and the printer you want to print to must be connected to the same Wi-Fi network. So, no printing to your house from the office. 

What Apps Work with AirPrint?

That changes all the time, as new apps are released. At minimum, you can count on most apps that come built into the iPhone and other iOS devices as supporting it. For instance, you'll find it in Safari, Mail, Photos, and Notes, among others. A lot of third-party photo apps support it.

Major productivity tools do, too, such as Apple's iWork suite (Pages, Numbers, Keynote - all links open iTunes/App Store) and the Microsoft Office apps for iOS (also opens the App Store).

How to Print From an iPhone Using AirPrint

Ready to start printing? Check out this tutorial on how to use AirPrint.

Manage or Cancel Your Printing Jobs with Print Center

If you're only printing one page of text, you'll probably never see Print Center because your printing will finish so quickly. But if you're printing a large, multipage document, multiple documents, or big images, you can use Print Center to manage them.

After you've sent a job to the printer, double click the Home button on your iPhone to bring up the app switcher. There, you'll find an app called Print Center. It shows all current print jobs that have been sent from your phone to a printer. Tap on a job to see information like its print settings and status, and to cancel it before printing is complete.

If you don't have any active print jobs, Print Center is not available.

Can You Export to PDF Using AirPrint Like on the Mac?

One of the nicest printing features on the Mac is that you can easily convert any document into a PDF right from the print menu. So, does AirPort offer the same thing on iOS? Sadly, no.

As of this writing, there is no built-in feature to export PDFs. However, there are a number of apps in the App Store that can do that. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Genius Scan - Free, with in-app purchases Download
  • PDF Export - Free, with in-app purchases Download
  • PDF Office - Free, with in-app purchases Download
  • Power PDF - Free, with paid Pro version Download

How to Solve AirPrint Problems

If you're having problems using AirPrint with your printer, try these steps:

  1. Ensure that your printer is AirPrint compatible (sounds dumb, I know, but it's a key step)
  2. Make sure your iPhone and printer are both connected to the same Wi-Fi network
  3. Restart your iPhone and your printer
  4. Update your iPhone to the latest version of the iOS, if you're not already using it
  5. Make sure the printer is running the latest firmware version (check on the manufacturer's website)
  6. If your printer is connected via USB to an AirPort Base Station or AirPort Time Capsule, unplug it. Printers connected via USB to those devices can't use AirPrint.