iPad: The Missing Printing Manual

iPad: The Missing Printing Manual

Summary: Have you ever wanted to print from your iPad or iPhone? Here's the skinny: It involves AirPrint, Apple's little-known wireless printing protocol, and some gotchas.

TOPICS: Apple, iOS, iPhone, iPad

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  • AirPrint: The Missing Manual

    Since the release of Microsoft Office for iPad this week, there's been renewed interest in printing from iOS devices, mainly because users of Microsoft's newly released office suite for Apple's mobile platform does not have a built-in capability to print yet. 

    However, this is not to say you cannot print Microsoft Office documents from an iPad. It just requires a few workarounds.

    First, it should be noted that even if you have a printer in your home or in your office, that does not mean you are able to actually print to it from your iOS device. In fact, you need a printer that is compatible with AirPrint, Apple's own wireless printing protocol.

    AirPrint has been part of iOS since version 4.2, but many people are not aware it even exists or even how to use it.



  • More Stuff About AirPrint

    Apple's own support pages on AirPrint has documentation on what kind of printers support the protocol. Several of the larger manufacturers, such as HP, Brother, Canon and Epson all have models that support it. The printer you already have may support it, but it might require a firmware update. Also, to use Apple's own words,

    "AirPrint printers connected using Bluetooth or shared through a USB port of a Mac, PC, AirPort Base Station, or Time Capsule are not supported."

    Once you've determined that your printer and setup is AirPrint compatible (like my WiFi-connected HP LaserJet 100 shown above) and it is connected over the same Wi-Fi network that is accessible from your iOS device, you then have to actually use an application that supports AirPrint on your iOS device. Not all iOS applications support AirPrint.

Topics: Apple, iOS, iPhone, iPad


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • Jason, I do have a question about this work-around until Microsoft enables

    native AirPrint capability for Office for iPad.

    My question concerns how accurately this work-around will print those files. Specifically, I will cite where those concerns arise.

    On YouTube, one can watch the Satya Nadella press briefing that took place on March 27th as recorded by TWiT TV with comments supplied by Paul Thurrott and Mike Elgan.


    At approximately the 11:17 minute mark in this video, Satya Nadella turns the briefing over to Julia White who then proceeds to open a Word document stored in OneDrive. This file is viewed on the OneDrive native file viewer. She comments that the formatting displayed is "less than ideal". (Those were not her words but convey the essence of her words and how that document appeared.)

    She then downloads that same file to her iPad and opens that file into the Office for iPad Word app. Everyone could than view a perfectly formatted document that faithfully renders the document as it was originally formatted.

    My question is: If one copies that file to OneDrive, will OneDrive than print that file as it was formatted on the iPad or will it print that file as it is viewed in it's native OneDrive viewer?

    BTW, most readers and users of these Microsoft Office for iPad apps will probably have several other work-arounds to choose from. I happen to just paste the file or a section of a file into the appropriate iWork application and then print that file or section. (I know .. less than ideal, but it has been my experience that for "most" Office files, the iWork applications will faithfully import an accurately formatted file or section for an Office Suite application. And iWork is free now or has already been purchased by a user for a nominal price.)

    I do hate work-arounds but a user must do that sometimes.

    Oh, one more thing. I have used, for the longest time, the third party iOS / OS X application, Printopia, to print my iOS files from my home OS X system. That will work for persons that have a non-AirPrint enabled printer and an OS X system at home.
    • Printing from the ipad

      Although the document renders poorly in onedrive when printed over the AirPrint connection it prints fine as created in Word.

      The AirPrint connection is not straightforward. I use an HP Photosmart 5510 and I actual email the print service first launching HP ePrint and sending the document to the special email.

      I have the option of opening the document on line and printing directly to AirPrint but the render is blank and I have not yet figured out why.

      Hope this helps.
      Alan Parsons
  • That's the native iOS viewer she's referring to

    The native iOS viewer does a mediocre job of rendering Office formats.

    The Office web app and the iOS app are basically identical in my experience. If there are differences in rendering, I have yet to see them.
    Ed Bott
  • I have a better workaround...

    Save the document to onedrive... open it from your Windows PC... Hit Print. Just as quick and WAY less janky. Also... works with a whole lot more printers :)
  • A correction...

    QuickOffice Pro versions still do support cloud storage providers other than Google Drive
  • Or...

    ...you could just give your iPad to your pre-teen and get a Surface Pro for yourself and do everything including print. You could even use the same Office 365 subscription on both of them and several more devices.
    Sir Name
    • Does not have to be a Surface Pro

      Daughter has a Canon wireless printer setup on our Home Group.
      My other daughter connected her Surface (Windows RT) to the Home Group and without doing anything else the printer was available from any application using File Print.
    • Right. Because

      Spending $500 to buy a Microsoft product to work around a feature MS left off their iPad software is brilliant. For Microsoft. Not for you so much.
  • Look at HandyPrint

    This is a Mac app that I have on my laptop from Netputing. As long as my laptop is up and running, not sleeping, anyone that comes to my office can print through it. On their iPhone or iPad they open their print function then print to my regular ole laser printer. One can print to any printer on the network. This app saved us purchasing new printers. Nothing is installed on the iPad nor iPhone.
  • printing app

    you can save to onedrive and print via the print n share app