Apple likes to call iOS devices like iPhones and iPads “post-PC” devices. For me, that’s true in the practical sense of the term, though certainly not in the extreme sense. And that’s a good thing, because having a Mac can come in handy sometimes. It’s also true that, for me anyway, iOS devices are post-printing devices, but there are rare times when being able to print from an iPhone or an iPad is useful. If you have a Mac, and that Mac can print to either a local or network printer, your iOS device can also print to the same printer. All you need is a $20 Mac application called Printopia by ecamm.
Before I go any further, it should be noted that Apple iOS devices are already capable of printing to specific AirPrint-enabled printers. If you have one of the printers on that list, great. Read no further, your time is better spent listening to an episode of Pocket Sized Podcast or posting comments on YouTube videos. If you don’t have one of these special printers and don’t print often enough to justify purchasing one, then you’ll love Printopia.
Printopia installs as a preference pane in Mac System Preferences.
Once installed, Printopia gives you the ability to enable a few different destination types to print to. Any printers your Mac can print to are able to be shared with your iOS devices. If you have DropBox installed on the Mac, you can print files directly to that DropBox folder. If you have Evernote on the Mac, you can send files right into that. And finally, you can print files directly onto the Mac itself to store in local folders there instead of having to print to paper unless you really need to.
Printopia is an amazingly flexible application, the utility of which is only slightly tempered by the fact that there are native iOS apps for DropBox and Evernote. Ok, so in practice I’ll probably never need to use Printopia to get information into my DropBox or Evernote accounts, but it’s a great option to have.
One of Printopia’s nicest features is the ability to pretend it doesn’t exist. There’s nothing to configure or mess with. You just use it, and it just works. Let’s say I receive a highly important email from my Pocket Sized Podcast cohost, Peter Nikolaidis. After reading it, I determine that it’s perfect for lining the hamster cage with. It’s as simple as tapping the reply icon, tapping the Print button, selecting a printer, and hitting Print.
Job done. Hamster is happy, Peter feels important, and I just went a long way toward justifying the low price of Printopia.
Printopia is available from ecamm for $19.95. Find out more and download a demo version at their website at http://www.ecamm.com/mac/printopia/ .