Look around. If you are old enough, you will undoubtedly notice that computers, while still widely used for business and educational applications, are being - have been? - almost entirely supplanted by their smaller, do-it-all cousins. The smartphone, for better or worse, is to the new millennium what the computer was to the end of the former: A life-changing, world-altering piece of kit. A particular reason for this phenomenon is the ability of users to print documents, papers, and other items directly from their smartphones, Androids included. Learn how below.
Printing from Your Android Devices: Options Abound
With the near saturation of smartphones upon the market, few services have become more of a household name in whenever, wherever file backup, storage, and retrieval is needed than Dropbox.
That is not all the wildly-popular service can do for the modern, always-on-the-go professional, student, or mom: It lets you print your stuff, too! Check out how below.
First, it should be noted that traditional methods of printing still work via Android, as do Android's "stock" printing apps. However, these options often require a long, annoying, and / or tech-heavy set-up process, the installation of third-party software, or both. Mobile printing via Dropbox, on the other hand, is simplicity itself.
#1: To begin, it is necessary that you have a DropBox account. It is probably safe to assume that readers of this guide will already fulfill that requirement, but you should go register for their service now if that is not the case.
#2: Second, you will need to download a lightweight utility to your preferred computer. Not to worry - unlike some other applications designed to run in the Windows environment, the Dropbox application will not be a problem. It simply runs in the background, linking itself to your computer and your Dropbox account in order to perform its function. More specifically, it will perpetually monitor a selected folder, checking it for print jobs periodically.
#3: Third, download the required .ZIP file. It is Windows-only, but just as the Dropbox utility will work with a wide variety of mobile devices, not just Android, there are ways to get things up and running on Mac and Linux, too. That said, Android and the Windows OS are the focus of this tutorial, and it should be assumed that they are what is being discussed.
Once the .ZIP file has been unpacked and the enclosed EPRINT.VBS file accessed, some scripts will run, and two folders will be created in your Dropbox - the first will be a revolving queue of print jobs, and the second will be an archive of completed jobs.
That is it! You are now ready to print on the fly with Dropbox. Simply send your documents or other items, singly or in batches, from your Android device to DropBox. Use either e-mail, IFTTT, or a manual upload through the DropBox app / utility to do this.
Other Mobile Printing Apps and Services
DropBox is not the only game in town. Check out the following options for even more mobile printing action!
Cloud Print is Google's answer to mobile printing. To use it, you will need a computer with Google's Cloud Print service installed and configured, which includes the assignment of relevant permissions. It is worth noting that certain types of printers make it possible to print your items without the need to power on your PC at all.
**PrinterShare Mobile Print
This is for those who need something printed ASAP. Able to handle just about any file format through a variety of media (SD cards, GoogleDocs, email, uploads, etc.), this app grabs any nearby printer that will allow access / sharing, using it to get your print jobs out as quickly as you can send them.
This app is almost identical to the PrinterShare app above, except that it carries a few additional features like online storage service integration, level-checkers for ink and toner, and so on. More to the point, is specifically designed to work with in-range Epson printers.
** Brother iPrint + Scan
This app works exclusively with Brother printers. It does not require drivers or even a PC to function, instead it uses LAN to get a user's print jobs out. As the name suggests, it also allows various documents and photos to be scanned to a user's Android device.
While there are other options available, the fact is that with the above five apps and services in his or her pocket, the Android user now has all they will ever need to turn their mobile device into a very handy pseudo-office. Productivity has never been so easy!