If you have worked with computers much at all, you’re probably well aware that one of the worst potential scenarios is when you have to work with a printer. There are few things in the computer world that can rival the printer as far as time wasting goes – the endless tinkering on, habitual issues created, and bewildering variety of selections available often make for a dire experience.
The drivers tend to be massive, and are only barely compatible with your computer. At least, that’s always been how it seems to me. If a printer is such a pain to get to work with a computer, can you imagine getting your iPad to work with one?
The mind boggles.
So I was somewhat surprised when I discovered that Printer Pro actually does an excellent job, and is easy to use. Here’s a quick rundown on how to get the most out of it.
The Scheme of Things
The initial setup for Printer Pro is simple, with nothing needed for connecting directly to the printer other than making sure you are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. The main issue is one of compatibility, for as mentioned, printers are notorious for the drivers they require, and the bewildering variety available. There is simply no way that one app could be designed to work with every single model.
If the app is not compatible with your printer then you have to download a liaison program, that Readdle makes available for free, that you then install on the computer connected to your printer – whether that connection is by Wi-Fi or by cable. You then set up Printer Pro to send the print request to your computer (which obviously needs to be on the same Wi-Fi network), from which the liaison program forwards the request to the printer.
This bypasses the compatibility issue, as Printer Pro merely passes on the data and then the computer, with the correct driver already installed and working, prints the request. It’s a super elegant solution to a potentially crippling issue.
Step by Step
Connecting Directly to the Printer
As I mentioned above, setting up to your iPad to to connect directly to the printer is shockingly simple.
- Connect to the same Wi-Fi network as the printer.
- Select the item you wish to print, whether it be a website, pdf, or image, and tap ‘Print’.
- Select your printer if it is available; if not, then try accessing it by entering its direct IP Address.
If the printer is not compatible, then you have to switch over to the other method, covered below.
Connecting via Computer
- Set up your printer with your computer.
- Download Readdle’s free software, Printer Pro Desktop, and install it on your computer.
- On your computer, select ‘Setup Remote Printing’ and copy the six digit access code.
- On your iPad, tap print on any item to take you to the ‘Printers’ screen and select ‘Add Cloud Printer’.
- Enter the six digit access code from your computer.
- Select your computer from the ‘Printers’ screen to print.
Unlike connecting directly to the printer, you do not have to be on the same Wi-Fi network in order to print something via computer. This means that you can effectively print your document from anywhere in the world!
Printing From Different Sources
Printer Pro is very inclusive, and allows you to print from pretty much any source. Admittedly, some of the ways to do so can be a little gimmicky, as the iPad lacks a resident ‘Print’ button, but for the most part it works excellently. One of the more gimmicky examples would be to print from iWorks, which requires you to email the document but then to print the attachment before you click send.
One of the more interesting ways that you can print something is by copying it. When you select and copy text on an iPad, it saves the data unto a virtual ‘clipboard’ until you paste it somewhere else. Printer Pro is actually able to display the information in the app, and then print it directly. Additionally, from inside the app you can also access your most recent print jobs, or print your contacts.
Printer Pro becomes an option when you select ‘Open In . . .’ from the various menus in any of a number of apps, such as Dropbox, Email, iDisk, and more.
If you want to print a website, you simply add a ‘p’ in front of the “http://” part of the address in the browser so that it looks like “phttp://”, which then opens Printer Pro and allows you to send the data from the website.
Each of the external uses of Printer Pro are detailed in the app, and it’s easy to check if you are ever unsure of yourself.
Overall, I’ve been very happy with Printer Pro. It works well, prints pretty much everything, and doesn’t seem to get lost in the transition of speaking to the printer. It makes the task of printing very easy, and with the smallest number of steps possible. Their encompassing solutions to the problems of printing from a tablet are elegant, and consistently well thought out. Allowing you to print the text in the clipboard is pure unadulterated genius!
It does have some annoying aspects, especially when working with a wide variety of sources. But, when you stop to think about how flawlessly the app otherwise provides its services, the niggles pale in comparison. It has a relatively high price tag, but provides an essential service and, in my mind, is worth the expense.