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Grow Your Business Technology

How to Wirelessly Print From Your Smartphone or Tablet

image for Likhit Thitilak/Shutterstock
Likhit Thitilak/Shutterstock

While the world is going paperless, there are still some instances where printouts are a must. In a pinch, that could mean having to print directly from your smartphone. Luckily, both iOS and Android support mobile printing, without the need for a third-party printing app. You can send your documents to any printer, so long as you're on the same Wi-Fi network and you know how to add it. This can mean flexible print options for SMBs.

Printing from your mobile device isn't hard – if you have an iPhone, it's a built-in feature that you can access by clicking the share button on documents, depending on which app you're in. Most Android phones have printing capabilities built in, but if your device isn't giving you an option to connect, you'll have to download the Google Cloud Print app.

If you're interested in mobile printing on portable printers, there's a roundup of options below. These printers, while a bit pricey, can be good options for business travelers who need to print on the go. They can also connect seamlessly to your Apple or Android device for quick and efficient printing.

Below are step-by-step instructions for mobile printing, adding a printer and choosing a printing app for Android, iOS and Windows.

Google Cloud Print comes preinstalled on most Android devices, but you can download it manually.

    1. If you download the Google Cloud Print app to your mobile device manually, you'll have to identify or add a printer compatible with your device that's on the same shared Wi-Fi network. Open Settings and find Printing to add a printer.
    2. Once your printer is added, open the app you're printing from and tap the three dots that indicate more options (usually in the upper right corner) to find and select the Print option.

While there are some third-party Android apps that can address your printing needs, it's likely best to stick with Google Cloud Print. This official application, recommended by Android, provides you with the capability of printing directly from whatever program you're in, be it a web browser, email client or document management system. Instead of having to open a separate app, Google Cloud Print allows you to print directly from your phone or tablet.

Keep in mind that your specific printer may work better using its own plugin or application. For example, HP's printer app is a plugin you can download in the Google Play app store. Once it's downloaded, you'll be able to easily print.

There may be other printer apps for Android, but make sure you're using either the Google Cloud Print app or your printer's preferred plugin. Third-party apps may not be the best method.

Apple's built-in AirPrint feature makes it easy to print directly from any iPhone or iPad without downloading additional programs to your mobile device.

  1. You can only use AirPrint with printers compatible with Apple's technology. Check this list to make sure your printer is AirPrint-enabled.
  2. Make sure your phone and your printer are on the same Wi-Fi network.
  3. Next, open the app you want to print from and find the print option, which may be under Share, Print or Other Options. Tap Print or the printer icon and select Choose an AirPrint-Enabled Printer. For this example, we printed something directly from Apple's email client.
  4. You should be able to easily identify and select the printer of your choice (or add a new printer), specify your printing needs (number of copies, etc.), and send your job to the chosen printer.

If you're still having trouble using AirPrint, make sure you're running the latest version of iOS and that the app you're printing from doesn't have any updates available.

If you're using a Windows 10 device and you want to print wirelessly, the setup is easy.

  1. First, open Cortana and type in Printer. Select Printers & Scanners when it appears.
  2. Select Add a Printer or Scanner. Assuming your printer is on the same Wi-Fi network as your Windows 10 device, you should have no problem locating it and adding it to your queue.
  3. Now you should be able to print with ease.

If you have a Windows 8 device without a built-in driver, here's what you need to do to wirelessly print:

  1. Download Print Now ($1.99). It's a Windows application that makes it possible for Windows users to wirelessly print through Google Cloud Print.
  2. Make sure your Windows device is connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your cloud-ready printer.
  3. Link your printer to Google Cloud Print by opening Chrome browser and typing "chrome://devices."
  4. Under New Devices, locate your printer. Click Manage next to it.
  5. In the Confirm Registration pop-up window, click Register.
  6. Go to Google.com/cloudprint and click Printers to confirm your printer is registered.
  7. 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.

If you're in a hurry or find yourself constantly traveling, it may be best to invest in a portable printer. Wireless printers can connect and print your documents in the same fashion.

If you're using Apple devices, make sure you choose one preapproved by Apple so you have no compatibility problems.

As for Android, you should be able to add your portable printer in the Google Cloud Printing app without any problems.

Here are some portable printers that make sense for business travelers. Keep in mind that buying a printer should be treated as a business investment, so make sure you get one that is durable and a good value.

Matt D'Angelo

Matt D'Angelo is a staff writer covering small business for Business.com and Business News Daily. After graduating from James Madison University with a degree in journalism, Matt gained experience as a copy editor and writer for newspapers and various online publications. In addition to his writing and reporting, Matt edits articles. He reviews small business services, including PEOs, small business loans and GPS fleet tracking services. He's been with Business.com and Business News Daily since 2017.