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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.