Sometimes, you just need to print something out.
Your smartphone or tablet can give you instant access to most of your files and documents. But sometimes, you just need to print something. Unlike digital documents, a printed page can be faxed or filed away. And it's handy even when you don't have Internet access or your mobile device's battery is drained.
Of course, you can always email a document from your smartphone or tablet to a desktop computer, and then print it from there. But if you're in a hurry — or want to save yourself the hassle — there are a variety of other ways to send print jobs from your iPhone, Android phone, Windows Phone or BlackBerry to your printer. Whether you need to print a sales report or an article from the Web, there's a wireless printing app for you.
To print from an Android phone or tablet, you'll first need to know which version of the operating system the device uses. If it's Android version 4.4 or higher, your phone or tablet has built-in wireless printing functionality. Earlier versions of Android, however, will require a bit more legwork. To check which version you have, tap About Phone in the Settings menu.
- Android 4.4 or higher: First, make sure wireless printing is enabled on your Android device. Navigate to the Settings menu, tap Printing and then turn on Cloud Print and HP Print Service. From there, compatible apps (such as Google Drive, Quickoffice, Dropbox and Chrome) will let you print directly to any HP wireless printer, or any other wireless printer linked to your phone through Google Cloud Print. If you haven't linked a printer to your Cloud Print account, follow these instructions. Then, view the document or Web page you want to print in a compatible app and select Print from the Options menu.
- Other versions of Android: If you're using an older version of Android, the best way to print is to use the Google Cloud Print app to send documents to your desktop computer, which can forward them to your printer. The process is a bit more involved, so check out a step-by-step guide on how to do it on our sister site Laptop Mag.
Whether you're using an iPhone or an iPad, Apple's AirPrint service will let you send documents straight to your wireless printer — but only if your printer model is supported by Apple. Otherwise, you can use a third-party app to send print jobs to your wired printer through your Mac or PC, or send them directly to most Wi-Fi printers.
- AirPrint: Apple's AirPrint service is as simple as can be, but it only works with select printers. A full list of supported printers can be viewed here. To use the service, make sure your iOS device and printer are connected to the same Wi-Fi network, and then open a document on your mobile device. Select Print, and then choose your printer.
- Other apps: Apps from other developers let you print to almost any wired or wireless printer, even if it's not compatible with AirPrint. Just make sure your printer is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your iPhone or iPad. Then, download and install one of these apps on your mobile device: Print, PrintCentral or HP ePrint. Some apps also allow you to send print jobs to the printer over your cellphone carrier's network.
Compared to other mobile operating systems, Windows Phone has one big advantage for business users: native integration with Microsoft Office and the OneDrive cloud storage platform. However, the platform doesn't have built-in wireless printing functionality, so you'll have to rely on a third-party app called Print Now.
- Print Now: Print Now is a Windows Phone 8 application that lets you process print jobs in conjunction with Google Cloud Print. To get started, link your printer to Google Cloud Print by following these instructions. Then, make sure your Windows Phone device is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your printer. Once that's done, it's easy to send files to the printer from OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox or your phone's onboard media library.
For security-minded business users, BlackBerry smartphones are still worth a look. New models have features such as automated security warnings to protect private documents, as well as native support for the secure BlackBerry Messenger app. If you want to print documents from your BlackBerry device, use an app called Print My Files.
- Print My Files: Print My Files lets you print documents from any wired or wireless printer. The app works in conjunction with a Windows PC application; Macs are not supported. To use the app, install Print My Files on both your PC and BlackBerry, and make sure both devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. From there, open the app on your smartphone, and select the document you wish to print from the files saved in your media library.