As more and more users turn to their phones and tablets for everyday computing tasks (email, Web browsing, even word processing), there's one aspect that often seems elusive: printing.
After all, it's not like you can plug in a USB printer, and even if you have a Wi-Fi model connected to your home network, it may not show up when you search for printers within iOS. Fortunately, it's pretty simple to print just about anything from your iPhone or iPad, and to just about any printer.
For starters, check out Sharon Profis' tutorial on printing wirelessly from any iDevice, which shows how to get connected to AirPrint and non-AirPrint printers alike.
What remains is the nuts and bolts of how to print various kinds of items from various apps (a process that's not always consistent across iOS). For example, want to print a document from the newly updated Word for iPad? Or a set of directions from Google Maps? How about a magazine page? Here's a simple rundown of how to print just about anything.
To print from the Mail app, open any message, tap the Reply button (the little curved arrow), and then tap Print.
Depending on the attachment, it might open inline within the body of the email, in which case you can print it using the same method described above.
If it's something like a Word file, though, tap the attachment to open it, then tap the screen to access options. In the corner you should see a Share icon (represented by a square with an arrow pointing up out of it). Tap that, then choose Print.
I read a lot of apps on my iPad, and often I come across a page or story I'd like to preserve in hard copy. Alas, few magazine apps offer a direct print option, so you'll have to try a couple workarounds.
First, if it's a single page, take a screenshot (by simultaneously pressing the Home and Power buttons). Then you can hit up the Photos app (see below) and print that "photo."
Second, see if the magazine has sharing options. In the app for Men's Health, for example, you can tap just about any story, then the Share button, and then choose Add to Reading List. Now bop over to Safari (see below), open Reading List, and print from there.
Want a hard copy of your driving directions? (Always a good idea.) In the Maps app, before tapping the Start button to begin route guidance, tap Share, then Print. You'll get a nicely detailed list of the turns, complete with thumbnails showing corresponding map snippets.
Nothing complicated here: Open a note, tap the Share button, then Print.
The process of printing a PDF may be a bit different depending on where it's located. If it's an email attachment, for example, you can print it using the directions described above. If you've opened a PDF in your browser, you should have no trouble printing it using the directions described below ("Web pages").
But what about a PDF stored in, say, your Dropbox account? Assuming you have the Dropbox app, it's just as easy: Open the PDF, tap the Share button, then tap Print.
It's easy enough to print from the Photos app -- just tap the Share button and then Print -- but you get very few options. That's no big deal for documents and the like, but with photos it would be nice to control things like size, orientation, color, and so on.
For that, look to apps from your printer manufacturer: Brother, HP, Epson, or whatever. Most of them give you greater control over photo printing. Epson iPrint, for example, lets you choose the paper size and type, the photo size, and even whether you want a border.
Printing in Safari works just like printing in Mail and Notes: Tap the Share icon, then tap Print. If you're a Chrome user, just tap the Menu button (to the right of the address bar), then Print, then AirPrint.
Microsoft'sbears a close resemblance to its desktop counterpart, so keep that in mind as you're looking for the Print option. It's not in the Share menu like in so many other iOS apps, but rather in the File menu, same as desktop Word.
That menu is accessed by tapping an unfamiliar-looking icon in the upper-left corner, just to the right of the Back arrow. You'll see Print in the drop-down menu that appears. It's the same process for printing in Microsoft's Excel and PowerPoint apps.
There are, of course, various apps that offer native printing capabilities: Apple's iWork apps, Evernote, iAnnotate PDF, Instapaper, Todo, and many more.
If you want more print options and more support for older printers, check out EuroSmartz' PrintCentral Pro ($7.99, £5.49, AU$9.99). Among other things, it can print contacts, calendar entries, and even items copied to the clipboard.