How To Print Using Your Mobile Device.

printing from your cell phoneWhile paper printouts are no longer needed as they used to be, there are still times when you want one, such as a map with directions, or a backup copy of an airline reservation.

Many people assume they can’t print from their tablet or smartphone, simply because their printers are old and/or aren’t able to connect to Wi-Fi. However, there are many free consumer-oriented solutions that rebuke this myth.

Two of them are very reliable, and make printing from mobile devices as simple as printing from a computer, including Presto (formerly FingerPrint) by Collobos Software, and ThinPrint Cloud Printer by Cortado. Both allow you to print documents from mobile devices, and come in an enterprise version that’s geared for an office environment. These solutions work by sending the print job to a computer that’s set up to work with a specific printer.  

This concept might sound familiar because many big-name companies have already created options similar to this. However, their solutions work with and without PCs acting as go-betweens for mobile devices and printers, and therefore have a few flaws.  Such as Hewlett Packard’s ePrint solution, which enables devices to print wirelessly, but only to Hewlett Packard printers. Other solutions, such as Apple’s Airprint solution, also have flaws. AirPrint works with more than 700 printer models from more than a dozen manufacturers, yet it’s limited to Apple iOS devices. Google’s Cloud Print is limited as well, as items may only be sent from the Google Chrome Web Browser, Chrome OS, or Google mobile applications such as Google Docs and Gmail.

Presto

Presto works consistently and in a variety of scenarios. It includes built-in support for Google’s Cloud Print, which comes in handy when you’re printing documents from Google applications, Android, or the Chrome operating system. During setup, simply enter your Cloud Print account credentials in the “Namespaces.”

So what’s the downside of Presto? It’s limited to printers connected to Windows PCs (but a Mac version should be available in August). With Presto Home, the free version, mobile devices can only print to PCs that are running on the same network. For example, your iPhone must be connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Windows 8 PC to print.  The enterprise version of Presto offers a workaround for this, but it costs $30 a month. But, if your PC is turned off, such as when closing your laptop, Presto won’t run.

The Upside of Presto?

Once you download Presto and follow a few quick steps, it will be installed and your devices will automatically find the printer. Presto is currently compatible with iOS, Android, and Google’s Chrome OS. Due to its integration with Google Cloud Print and Airprint, Presto doesn’t require an application.

And What About ThinPrint?

ThinPrint printers can be connected to Macs or Windows PCs.  Its primary focus is for people who use smartphones and tablets for work-related tasks. It doesn’t allow you to print emails or Web pages, and it’s not compatible with Google Cloud Print; but it does print photos easily via an application that opens the photos on your iOS or Android device.

The free application for ThinPrint is available in the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, and must be installed on your mobile device. Instructions for downloading the program on a Windows PC or Mac can be found on: http://www.thinprint.com/Download/ClientsTools/Download/Clients.aspx

Although printing isn’t as essential in our everyday lives as it used to be; it’s often hard to find a solution that will send your documents to the printer. For those rare occasions when you need to print something from your mobile device, Presto and ThinPrint are the smartest solutions available today.

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