How to print a paper copy or PDF from an iPhone or iPad


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Printing is almost dead in this all-digital world, but there are still some things you can’t easily digitize: shipping labels, bulletin board flyers, printouts. Email address for your boss and posting prank memes in your colleagues’ offices. And in this era where almost everything is done on your phone, it’s good to be able to type from it instead of hopping to a computer.

Apple has created one of the easiest ways to print from a smartphone by convincing many printer manufacturers to implement AirPrint wireless printing. Apple also has a very easy way to create PDF documents instead of a traditional hard copy – if you know how to get there. In this article, we will show you both.

Printing with AirPrint

It’s important to note that AirPrint printing may not support all printer features, but you’ll likely get options for: number of copies, range, paper size, orientation, scaling, and other basic features.

To get started, you’ll need access to a wireless or network printer that supports the Apple AirPrint driverless printing system. If you don’t already have a printer, learn how to choose the right one. If you’ve purchased a wireless printer within the last five years (or even up to 10 years in HP’s case), chances are it already supports AirPrint. Some printer manufacturers may also include an app that can print files from your device or through their own cloud service, but these are usually not as easy or enjoyable to use as AirPrint.

Then make sure your iPhone and printer are connected to the same wireless network. If your printer has an Ethernet port, you can also connect it directly to your wireless router with an Ethernet cable and still be able to AirPrint from your iPhone. In corporate environments, you may need to have your IT department open this feature to allow printing from your iPhone.

Okay – now it’s time to print something:

  • Open what you want to print: an email or email attachment, a website in Safari, a file in the Files app, a photo, and more.
  • Click Share button to open the shared sheet, then scroll down and tap print button. Some applications may have the “Print” button in a different location. For example, to print an email message in the Mail app, you need to tap Reply button, then find print at the bottom of the list of answer options.
  • On the Print Options on the screen that appears, select your printer if there is not already a default option.
  • You can now select the range of pages you want to print, the number of copies, enable duplex printing, and other print options.
  • Click printand away we go!

You can see the print queue/order status by tapping up from the bottom of the screen (iPhone with Face ID or iPad) or double-clicking the Home button (iPhone with Touch ID) to go to the app switcher. You can also cancel the print here if it hasn’t been completed yet.

The print queue appears in the application switcher only when printing is active.

Click to view the print summary while the print is still active, and you can also cancel it here.

Print to PDF file

It’s amazing how a useful feature like print to PDF is treated like an easter egg in iOS, especially since macOS has had a handy “Save as PDF” option for years. iOS doesn’t have a button to print to PDF; instead you zoom to the document to get the option, here’s how:

  • Using the instructions above, go to Print Options screen for the file or page you want to convert to PDF (see instructions above).
  • Pinch your fingers in the print preview as if you want to enlarge it. It will fly towards you as if you are entering a new stage of a video game.
  • You now have a document open as a PDF. You can scroll, zoom, and search for text on this screen to make sure the document you want looks right.
  • Press Share button at the bottom left.
  • To choose Save to files to specify where you want to save the document, or choose another app to send it directly to someone, such as Mail, Messages, or AirDrop.

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