Printing from a Smarthone (OR NOT!)

Question

Is there a way to print from my smartphone?

- Clara

Answer

This question was answered on April 30, 2010. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

As the capabilities of today’s smartphones improve, the line between them and what we perceive as a traditional computer continues to blur.

While there are a number of ways to ‘potentially’ print from your smartphone, I’ll give you some low-tech alternatives that are generally much less complicated and more likely to work first.

Unless you are trying to print a photograph at the highest possible resolution, my first suggestion is to e-mail whatever you wanted to print (text or images) to a computer that is already attached and configured to print.

This will avoid all of the complications of getting your smartphone configured to print and will likely take less time than downloading, configuring and troubleshooting any of the solutions that are currently available (just reading the forums on this should be enough to scare the technically meek!)

If e-mail isn’t an option, then think about ‘cloud-based’ solutions such as Google Docs (copy and paste) or photo sharing sites (upload the photos) so that once again, a computer that is already configured to print can access your info and print it.

If you really need to print from your smartphone on a regular basis, then what you need to print and what type of printer you have will make a big difference in the solution.

If you have a wireless HP Photo printer and either a Windows Mobile, Symbian or iPhone OS based device, you can download HP’s iPrint Photo program, but don’t expect it to go as smoothly as the website might make it sound: http://bit.ly/aXYjkR .

If you have an iPhone (or now an iPad) there are three apps that have been reviewed by Macworld that might get the job done Be warned, however, that the site starts with this ominous sentence: It may not be easy to print from your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, but it can be done…

There are three programs reviewed; DocPrinter ($5.99), ePrint ($2.99) and PrinterShare (Free) and they allow you to print to supported printers on a local area network (not just wireless printers) The reviews and the download links can be found at: http://bit.ly/bVE6uX .

If you own a Windows Mobile device, you have a few options for printing from your smartphone as well.

JetCet PRINT ( http://bit.ly/apQ7we ) is a full featured program that works with a large number of printers from Canon, Epson, HP & Brother and sells for $9.95.

Baachmann Software has a product called PrintBoy that works with Windows Mobile, Nokia, Palm OS or Sony Ericsson smartphones that ranges from $29 to $49 depending upon your platform.

Another offering called ActivePrint is available for both Windows Mobile and iPhone/iPad users but you can only print through a Windows-based computer (no current support to print through a Mac) via a special Desktop Installation program that must be running in order to print: http://www.activeprint.net .

In some cases, if you have a Bluetooth printer, you can try pairing your smartphone with the printer if there is native support for printing in the phone (none in the iPhone).

Blackberry users can give Bluetooth printing a try with Cortado’ Basic Print ( http://bit.ly/9PbsLw )

Having read dozens of pages of complaints from just about every solution that is currently available, my best advice would be to find another way to get what is on your smartphone to a printer.

As elegant as it may sound to be able to print directly from your smartphone, nothing that I have looked into was easy to setup or keep running or as flexible as what most of us are used to when it comes to printing from our computers.

If you decide to attempt this, do yourself a couple of favors; look for trial-versions and make sure that you know what the refund policy is if you buy something that you can’t get to work!

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on April 30, 2010