Have you ever wished you that could print files directly from your Android phone? A new application called PrinterShare uses a client on your handset and a print server on your PC to do just that. Once installed, you can print documents, contacts, and photos on your home printer from any place with cellular service or Wi-Fi. The service is free to use and available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. What's more, the mobile client is available for both the Android and the iPhone.
Set up the desktop PrinterShare software
Before you can register an account with PrinterShare, you first must install the desktop software. Visit the PrinterShare Web site and download the appropriate client for your operating system. Unfortunately, Windows Vista 64-bit is not supported yet.
Once you install the software, follow the instructions to register a PrinterShare account. A name and e-mail address is required for the free version. When registration is complete, you'll receive an e-mail with your User ID and password, which you'll need when setting up the mobile client.
Make sure that you share a printer when the software installation and registration is complete. To do so, launch the PrinterShare application and it will scan your PC automatically for installed printers. After it's done, just select the printers you want to share. In Windows, advanced options are available by right clicking on the PrinterShare icon in the Taskbar.
Install PrinterShare on your phone
When the desktop software is ready to go, it's time to install the client onto your phone. Search the Android Market or the iPhone App Store for PrinterShare.
The app setup process for Android phones is quite simple. After the install finishes, launch the application and press the menu button to enter your account information. This is the same User ID and password you received during registration. At this same time, you can add your printers by browsing for the any that are shared. One cool PrinterShare feature is the ability to share your printer with roommates or family members.
Printing files from your Andorid device
Now that you have added a printer, you can begin printing files. The three available options on the PrinsterShare home screen include pictures, contacts, and Web pages. It's also possible to send print jobs to PrinterShare from other Android applications by long pressing on items.
Printing pictures is pretty straightforward. Simply click Print Pictures and select a photo from the gallery. When selecting photos, you can change options like paper setup, page margins, and picture size. It also provides a print preview before sending the print job.
In my testing, it took about 5 minutes total to complete a print job over a T-Mobile Edge connection. It requires about 2 minutes to process the print job and send the file with the rest of the time allotted for the print server to receive the file. These times can vary based on file size.
Print Contacts is an especially helpful feature. When selected, use the menu option to toggle which group of contacts to print. Alternatively, you can select all of your contacts. The app will print all information associated with a contact including a photo.
Print Web Pages launches a browser inside the PrinterShare app and places a large print button at the bottom of the screen. Type in the Web site you wish to visit, navigate to the desired page, and then hit print to send off the job. It's also possible to send Web pages to PrinterShare from the default Android browser. Simply hit menu, then more, and select share page. When you hit share page, the PrinterShare application will appear in the list.
It's also possible to print e-mail attachments, but this can be more difficult. In order to print an attachment, you must visit the desktop version of Gmail in the Android browser. Then, find the e-mail with the attachment and preview it. From the document preview page you can use the menu, more, and share option again. In my testing, I was able to print TXT and PDF files.
Is PrinterShare worth all the hassle?
Installing the PrinterShare software on your PC and mobile device can be time consuming. But after the initial setup, the application is easy to use. And even better, its works just as promised. The free version of the service is supposed to include a cover page that you can remove for a fee. Yet, when I tested the free Android client, it never printed my jobs with a cover page.
Since its release, there have been several updates to the Android client. Hopefully we will continue to see added features over time. But when it comes to printing files on Android, there are not many choices. PrinterShare performs as advertised, and I would recommend it to any Android user.