How to print from your iPhone without AirPrint

According to Flurry from Yahoo, people are spending way more time on their smartphones than their TV’s. Last summer, Americas spent an average of 177 minutes on their smartphones versus 168 minutes for TVs.

Furthermore, according to Nielsen, Italians used their smartphones about twice as long as they spent surfing the web on their PCs.

People are spending more time on their smartphones.  Me included.

The other day, my wife was sitting on our lazy boy reading an article.  She walked down stairs and asked if there was anyway to print an article directly from her iPhone.  We are a Windows family so we can’t use Apple’s proprietary AirPrint technology.  Besides, we don’t even have an Airprint compatible printer.  Our printer is pretty old but we needed a way to print from our iPhones.

Initially I told her there was no way to print her stuff but then I thought about it a little and started to do some research.  Since both her iPhone and the printer are connected to our home WiFi network I knew there had to be some trick to pulling this off.

This is what I found.

The short story is there’s an App for that.

The shorter story is that it’s free but only for this week.  I just discovered it today.  Normally the App costs $6 bucks so you after Sunday you’ll have to pay.

Before we get into the app I want to show you a slick trick for getting free apps like this in the future.  I don’t want you to miss these ephemeral deals.  Nothing beats free.

Learning about free App Store Apps

Since the summer of 2012, the @AppStore on Twitter has been giving away a #FreeAppoftheWeek.

#FreeAppoftheWeek

The problem of course, is that unless you’re visiting #FreeAppoftheWeek you might miss a premium app giveaway.

One way to get around this is to use a free service called IfThisThenThat (IFTTT).

IFTTT let’s you create simple rules called recipes that trigger certain events based on specific actions.  We’re going to make IFTTT send us an email whenever @AppStore sends a tweet to #FreeAppoftheWeek.  That way we don’t have to scroll through millions of tweets searching for the right one and we’ll never miss a free app alert from the AppStore.

Sound good?

Check it out.

Getting alerts with IFTTT

Quickly create an account and jump in.

Getting started with if this then that

Pick at least three channels.  Make sure Twitter is one of them.

Pick at least three channels in ifttt

Now click create from your name in the upper right corner of the screen.

Create a new IFTTT recipe

Type “Twitter” in the search box and click the familiar chirping bird icon below the search box.

Choose a trigger channel

Activate your channel

Activate your Twitter channel in IFTTT

Authorize the IFTTT app

Authorize the IFTTT app

And you’re good to go.

Activate Twitter App

Onward!

Continue to the next step in IFTTT

Scroll to the very bottom of the list and choose New tweet from search.

New tweet from search

In the Search for field type:

#FreeAppoftheWeek from:AppStore

Create trigger in IFTTT

Click the big blue that 

If then that

Then scroll through the channel actions and pick your action.  You can have IFTTT SMS your device and do a bunch of other tricks, but today we’re just going to make it shoot a message to Gmail on each alert.

Click Gmail icon

Activate the Gmail channel.

Please activate the Gmail channel

Click Allow access for ifttt.com

ifttt.com is requesting permission

Done!  Well, not quite…

Gmail is activated

Continue to the next step

Please activate the Gmail channel

Click Send an email

Send an email as an IFTTT action

Pop in your email address.  Just leave everything else alone and click Create Action.

Complete action fields

You’ll get a summary screen letting you confirm everything.

Then click Create Recipe to start.

Create and activate recipe

That’s it.  Anytime you want to change the recipe just login and click My Recipes from the header bar at the top of the screen.

The little pencil icon on the main screen lets you modify, disable, delete, execute and run the recipe anytime you want.

Printing with PrinterPro

The app is called PrinterPro by Readdle and it makes it super easy to print anything off your iPad, iPhone, iPod.

Installing Printer Pro from the App store

Download the app from your device and kick it open like Bruce Lee.

Running the Printer Pro App

Now just tap the big ol’ Add Printer button.

Adding a printer to Printer Pro

The app should automatically find your printer if it’s using Apple’s Bonjour service.  If not, just touch Add manually on the next screen and enter the IP address of your printer.

Manually add printer by IP to Printer Pro on your iOS device

Finding your printer IP

The easiest way grab the IP is to visit the computer where you installed the printer. Press the Windows logo key and type:

devices and printers

Right click the printer name, visit Printer properties (not to be confused with the generic Properties option at the bottom of the menu)

Printer properties in Windows 8.1

Click the Ports tab.  The first column displays the IP address you need to insert into your the PrinterPro app.

Printer property ports

Alternatively, you can install the desktop app on a computer with printer access by going to readdle.com/ppd.

After adding the printer, you can easily print from almost any iOS app by touching the reply button in emails or the share icon in apps and web pages.

Just choose the PrinterPro App from the option list.  The share button usually looks like a square with an up arrow protruding out the top.Printing from my iPhone to a non-airprint device

That’s it for now!

Do you have a different method for printing documents from your iPhone?  Let me know in the comments!

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