The latest version of Apple’s iOS operating system for iPhones and iPads includes a wireless printing capability called AirPrint. The only problem is that, in typical Apple style, it’s restricted (or so they want you to think) to a new line of AirPrint enabled printers from HP.
Fortunately, the geek universe is not sitting still for Apple and HP telling them that they have to buy a new printer to print from their iPads. A technology blog called Jaxov.com offers step by step directions for enabling AirPrint on Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP computers, both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems.
It’s not for the squeamish, but if you are comfortable downloading and unzipping files, and if you know how to create folders on your Windows computer, it’s a fairly simple process. You will also need to know how to use the “DOS box” (which in more recent versions of Windows has been renamed the “Command Browser” so that we will hopefully forget that MS-DOS is still very much a part of Windows.
You will have to type some commands at the command line in the DOS box after you have installed the software (install, in this case, really just means unzipping the zip file and copying its contents into the new folder you’ve created).
You may also have to instruct your firewall to allow the software access to your wireless network, and you might also have to set the sharing function for your printer so that it is shared to your network.
If you do all these things correctly, you then go to a document or email on your iPad (assuming that you have upgraded it to the iOS 4.2 update), and tap the icon for replying/forwarding. You will see a new “Print” option, and you can then select a printer. If you’ve configured AirPrint correctly on your home network, the iPad should see your printer, which you then select. Your iPad will probably ask you for a user name and password, this is just the same log-on you use for your Windows startup screen. Once you enter those credentials, you just click “print.” It really does work, and it saves you having to go buy a new printer.
That’s something to be thankful for!