More and more PC work can also be done on smartphones and tablets, but printing them causes some problems. Our guide explains how you can control your printer from all devices including a notebook – via the Internet even when you are on the move.
You can print from any device – whether it’s a smartphone, tablet or notebook.
© Daniel Krason / Shutterstock.com
On the one hand, it is trivial that the end device that is to be used for printing and the printer have to communicate with one another. But this banality is important because the connection is possible in a variety of ways. In addition to the classic cable (USB or network) and WLAN, other wireless standards (Wi-Fi Direct, NFC, Bluetooth) as well as the Internet cloud with various services are available. That is why there is no “best” option for all end devices from smartphones to desktop PCs, but you can often choose between several variants. In the following we explain what these are and how you can use them.
Print out from your PC and notebook at home
Setting up a USB printer is now automatic: switch it on, connect it and wait until the driver is installed and the printer or multifunction device is available under Windows. It is only worth mentioning at this point that the device-specific driver from the device manufacturer usually offers more options than the standard version from Microsoft. If you want to use all settings from eco to brochure printing, you cannot avoid the hardware-specific software. This can be found on the printer manufacturer’s website in the service or support section for free download. It is also easy to configure a network device by clicking on “Devices -› Printers & scanners – ›Add printer or scanner” in the Windows 10 Settings app.
Printing on USB devices via the Fritzbox and the home network: Configuring the router (above) and setting up the printer under Windows 10 (below) are easy.
Printers with USB only, i.e. without a network connection, can also be controlled from several computers without having to change the printer cable every time. One option is to share the USB printer in the home network: To do this, click again in the Settings app on “Devices -› Printers & Scanners “, mark your printer and go to” Manage – ›Printer properties -› Sharing – ›Change sharing options – ›Share printer -› OK “continue. However, this method has the disadvantage that the PC with the connected USB printer must be running so that a print job can be processed by another device. In order to create a printout from the notebook on the sofa in the evening, the computer in the study must be switched on in this scenario.
This disadvantage can be avoided if the USB-only device is connected to the router or the network hard drive (NAS) and configured as a network printer. Many NAS and router models, including the popular Fritzbox models, offer such a print server function. You will find a summary of the facility
. After configuration via the user interface of the router or NAS in the web browser, the USB printer behaves like a network printer and can be set up in Windows using the Settings app or the classic system control.
To print from the mobile device, first install the printer manufacturer’s print app (left); afterwards, the device is usually recognized and set up automatically (right).
What is the difference between a “normal” network printer and a WLAN printer? In practice (almost) only because you can set up the wireless printer anywhere within the wireless range of the router while the wired device has to be close to the router. If the telephone connection and router are placed unfavorably in the hallway, for example, you can also set up a non-WiFi network printer elsewhere and connect it to the main router via a second router, powerline adapter or WiFi repeater with an additional LAN socket. In this way, the printer can also be reached via WLAN.
Print out from smartphone and tablet PC via home network
If the printer is integrated into the home network at home – via LAN cable, WLAN or USB with the router or network hard drive – printing from smartphones and tablets with Android or iOS is also very easy. The whole thing takes place in the local network, not via the cloud.
To do this, install the printer manufacturer’s print app on your mobile device from the Google Playstore or the Apple Appstore: The free apps from Brother, Canon, Epson, HP / Samsung & Co. have names such as “Mobile Print” or Find “Print Service” plus company name.
After the installation from the Playstore / Appstore, follow the app-specific search and configuration of the printer. The device is usually recognized automatically, so you do not need to enter an IP address or similar information.
Please do not be surprised if the print app does not appear with an icon on your smartphone or tablet as usual – it is still installed and can be opened via the Playstore / Appstore. Printing itself takes place under Android, depending on the app used, either via the share symbol or the three dots, each followed by “Print”. On devices with iOS, tap on the forwarding / sharing icon at the top and then also on “Print” or the printer icon.
Owners of a real network printer can usually print from the iPhone and iPad using Apple’s Airprint technology. Most network printers support the Apple standard, you will find a device list
on the Internet
. Airprint offers the advantage that you do not have to install an additional app. The iPhone and iPad automatically detect the printer on the same network.
The Printershare app, together with a USB OTG adapter, makes it possible to print from an Android smartphone on conventional USB printers.
USB printers without a network function can often also be reached by cable from Android devices. The prerequisite is that the mobile device supports the OTG (“on the go”) function. You can check this with the app
USB OTG Checker
from the playstore. In addition to the USB cable, you need an OTG adapter with a USB-A socket to connect the phone and printer, available for less than five euros from Amazon, Ebay & Co. When buying, make sure that the connection that fits your smartphone is correct USB-C or Micro-USB. You also need the app to print by cable
, also from the Playstore. The basic version is free, the unlimited full version costs just under seven euros. This also allows Printershare to be used for remote printing via the cloud, as described in the next section.
It is not particularly convenient to switch the printer cable, but it is quite practical for occasional printouts, given the low cost of around ten euros for the adapter and app.
The mobile device and printer can also be connected via Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth or NFC, provided the printer has the respective interface.
For smartphones and tablets with Google’s Android operating system, there is finally the manufacturer-independent
to disposal. You can read more about this app from the “Mobile Printing Alliance” at the end of this guide.
Control the printer at home from anywhere via the cloud
The scenarios described so far are limited to printing in your own four walls. Sometimes, however, it would be practical to start a print job on the go without first creating a PDF, sending it home by email and printing it out there later. Such “remote printing” is possible, again in different ways.
Some printer manufacturers offer their own cloud-based function for some of their devices, in which the print jobs are sent by e-mail to an individual e-mail address linked to your own printer. The printout takes place at home on the network printer as soon as the print mail has been processed by the manufacturer cloud. Please refer to the manual of your printer to see whether the device supports the function.
Google has announced that it will discontinue its cloud print service for remote printing. The alternative Thinprint offers the same for mobile devices (left) and Windows (right).
In addition to the manufacturer-specific services, Google also offered
so far the possibility to control the printer at home while on the move. You also had it on your Windows PC at home
Google Cloud Print Connector
installed, the printer did not even have to be “cloud print capable” – remote printing was possible with any USB and network printer. However, Google has announced that it will discontinue Cloud Print at the end of 2020.
The German company offers Thinprint for this
Thinprint Cloud Printer
an alternative that is also free for private use. How to set up this remote printing service,
we describe online
. The Windows versions of the
Thinprint Cloud Printer App
Thinprint Cloud Printer Connectors
– the counterpart to the connector from Google – can be found on the manufacturer’s website.
Thinprint also works at home in the WLAN and prints not only from Windows PCs, but also from Mac, iPhone and iPad as well as from devices with Android.
The best multifunction printers up to 100 euros in the test