From a standing start just a few years ago smartphones and, more recently, tablets now lead the gadgets pack. This isn’t any great surprise because with their compact dimensions and easy-to-use nature they’re a fantastic convenience.
However, even with this usefulness on tap there still are a few things that smartphone and tablet owners struggle with – and printing is high up on that list.
Put simply, it’s just not obvious how to put all those beautiful photos onto paper, let alone print documents from productivity apps.
But actually, printing from your portable devices is generally very easy – if you know how. We’ll explain everything in six easy steps.
Step 1: Check your printer’s capabilities
Many new printers include built-in features specifically designed to help smartphone and tablet owners print wirelessly with minimal hassle. This is often indicated by a logo on the box, or even the printer itself.
Owners of Apple devices, for example, should look for compatibility with AirPrint – Apple’s wireless-printing technology.
If you own an Android device, on the other hand, then look for a printer manufacturer’s own wireless-printing technology, such as HP’s ePrint.
Don’t worry if your printer doesn’t seem to support any such technology, later we’ll explain how to use Google’s Cloud Print service to send documents to almost any printer.
Step 2: Set up your printer
Every printer is different and there are also various wireless-printing technologies, so it obviously isn’t possible to offer instructions to cover all circumstances.
However, preparing your printer for printing from a smartphone or tablet is generally very easy.
Launch the software that came with your printer and look for an AirPrint or ‘Cloud Printing Setup’ option or similar. Click this and then follow the prompts.
Step 3: Print from Apple devices
Printing from Apple iPhones, iPads and iPods is very easy – assuming you have an AirPrint-compatible printer (see Steps 1 and 2). Apple has a list on its website.
Essentially, in any app that is able to print – which includes Safari, Mail and Photos – tap the curved-arrow icon to view the available sharing options. Now tap Print icon and it will search for your printer. Select the printer from the Printer menu and then tap tge Print button.
Step 4: Print from Android devices
Your printer manufacturer may offer its own software designed for printing from a smartphone or tablet.
This is typically the best option for owners of Android mobile devices, and the relevant software will be available as an app to download from the Google Play store.
Many HP printers, for example, include a wireless-printing technology called ePrint – and the accompanying app can be downloaded from Google Play. Samsung, Canon Lexmark, Acer and Epson also have free printing apps.
With the appropriate app installed, printing is very easy – and usually involves sending what you want to print to a special email address that’s tied to your printer.
Launch the app and follow the prompts to set up the email address.
Step 5: Print using Google Cloud Print
If your printer manufacturer doesn’t offer its own app then try Google Cloud Print. This allows you to send documents from almost any web-connected device to your home printer.
You’ll need a Google account to make use of this service but these are free, and easy to set up (if you already use any Google service then you probably have one). Then, visit the Google Cloud Print website and log in.
If your printer bears the Google Cloud Print logo, click the ‘Add a Cloud-Ready Printer’ link and follow the prompts. Otherwise, click ‘Add a Classic Printer’ – this will allow you to set up almost any printer for printing via the web.
Step 6: Print via a high-street booth
Finally, don’t forget that high-street shops now offer self-service printing booths. In many Boots stores, for example, you’ll find both Kodak-branded and Boots’ own-brand printing booths.
If wanting to print photos from a smartphone or tablet, you’ll need to make sure they’re stored on (or first copied to) a memory card – many smartphones and tablets have what’s known as an SD card slot for this purpose.
Pop the SD card into the matching slot in the booth and follow the on-screen prompts to choose what you want to print, and the desired print format. For a 6x4in print, say, you can expect to pay a few pennies before waiting for up to a minute for the print to appear. Alternatively many shops offer a one-hour photo service.