Skip to Content

How to print from your smartphone or tablet

Google Cloud Print photo illustrationGoogle Cloud Print photo illustration

Q. I was told I can print from my iPad, but I can’t figure out how to do it. Help!

A. With the ever-growing ability to get more work done using our mobile devices, it’s only a matter of time before you find yourself searching for the print button. Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS offer the ability to print a boarding pass or (shudder) spreadsheet without forcing you to open a laptop. Below, I outline how to print from devices that use either mobile operating system.

Printing from an iOS device—whether it’s an iPhone, iPad, or even iPod touch—is possible with AirPrint. The service requires your device to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network as an AirPrint-compatible printer. You can find a list of supported printers on Apple’s support site.

If you own or have access to a supported printer, you’re in luck. With both devices are connected to the same network, you can print items from within various apps on your iOS device by tapping on the action button, the name for the icon depicting a rectangle (like a screen) with an arrow pointing up, where available. Select it and next appears a “Share Sheet” with two rows of icons. You can find the print icon in the bottom row. Tap on it, select your printer, and set the number of copies to be printed. Done.

There isn’t a dedicated printing app within iOS; instead, you begin the process within an app. Should something go awry, you can check on the status of a print job by double-pressing the home button and swiping once to the right. A Print Summary window will appear; selecting it will provide more information regarding any open print jobs.

And what if you don’t have an AirPrint-compatible printer? All is not lost. If you have a Wi-Fi-enabled printer that doesn’t support AirPrint, it’s likely that the manufacturer has its own app in Apple’s App Store that makes wireless printing possible. HP has its ePrint app, Epson has its iPrint app, Canon has its Mobile Print app, and so on. Search the App Store for your manufacturer’s name and you should be able to find a corresponding app. Don’t have a Wi-Fi enabled printer at all? HandyPrint (for Mac users) and Presto (for Windows users) offer workarounds to force your iOS devices to find your printer via AirPrint.

Users of Google Android devices can take advantage of Google’s Cloud Print service. If you purchased your Android device in the last year or so, Cloud Print should come pre-installed on your device. (You can check by launching the Settings app and scrolling to the bottom of the list where a “Printing” option should be listed.) If it’s not, you can install the Cloud Print app from the Play Store for free.

Cloud Print will automatically scan your Wi-Fi network for compatible printers and install the necessary plug-in in the background. In my case, I set up a new Android device and the HP Printer plugin was automatically added to the Printing section in the Settings app.

The process for printing from an Android device varies based on the app you’re using. Google’s own Docs app requires you to select “Share & Export,” followed by “Print.” Other apps list “Print” in the main menu. My best advice: Start looking for the print command in the menu. If it’s not there, it’s likely under the Share option. When the process has started, a notification will appear in your Notification Shade as a shortcut to check the status of open jobs.

If you’re an Android user without a Wi-Fi-enabled printer, don’t use a third-party solution right off the bat. Instead, follow the instructions on Google’s Cloud Print support site. The process is simple, but does require you to have Google’s Chrome browser installed and the printer connected to a computer that’s always on.

Finally: This is the second “Logged In” column where I’ve answered a burning personal technology question. (You can read the first one here.) If you’re struggling with a tech-related issue that you’d like to see answered in a future column, email me at jason@jasoncipriani.com.

Logged In” is Fortune’s personal technology column, written by Jason Cipriani. Read it on Fortune.com each Tuesday.