Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Posted by Joe Johaneman in "Apple Software (OS X)" @ 06:00 AM
AirPrint is a great idea, but currently it only works with 12 printers. (You can find a list of compatible printers at Gizmodo). Printopia from ecamm takes the concept of AirPrint and turns it into something useful.
Printopia is an OS X program. It doesn't require any software on your iPad or iPhone. Printopia installs as a preference pane and makes just about any printer accessible to your Mac usable with AirPrint. It doesn't matter how that printer is attached to your Mac. It can connected locally, over a network, or even to a router with a USB port. If your Mac can print to it, so can your iOS 4.2 device once Printopia is installed.
If that was all it did, it would be well worth the $9.95 price tag. But Printopia adds some extra functionality that is incredibly useful. It can print directly to PDF or JPG, either to your Mac, or to Dropbox. In order for the Dropbox functionality to work, you have to have Dropbox installed on the Mac that is running Printopia. If you have multiple Macs, Printopia will let you choose which Mac (or Dropbox) to save your file to.
Of course, all of this functionality only works if your Mac is turned on and your iOS device is on the same WiFi network as your Mac. That's generally not an issue for me, because if I'm awake, my Mac is on, but it might be an inconvenience if your Mac isn't always on. Also, while the ability to print to PDF/JPG is useful, it doesn't let you change the location it prints to. If you print to your Mac, it always prints to ~/Documents/Printopia/ and in Dropbox it prints to ~/Dropbox/Printopia/ (assuming your Dropbox is in the default location). I'd like a way to customize that. It would be nice if I could print to other services like SugarSync, or to my iDisk as well.
Those minor complaints aside, I highly recommend Printopia as a way to get more value out of AirPrint. While future updates to iOS will allow AirPrint to print to more devices, I doubt we'll see a "Print to Dropbox" option from Apple. Printopia is a must have product if you want to use AirPrint without buying a new printer or if you need the ability to print to virtual printers. You can try Printopia for 7 days with full functionality for free.
Joe Johaneman is a writer living in Northeast Pennsylvania. He is working on a novel about the poet John Clare, and is addicted to dried pomegranates. You can find him on Twitter, where his username is dogboi.
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