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print from dropboxMobile printing is something that still needs to be worked on. We’ve got a small computer in our pockets, but the files are practically locked in. With mobile office suites on the rise, printing is something that can be no longer ignored.

We’ve covered Print Anything Wherever You Are With PrinterOn Print Anything Wherever You Are With PrinterOn Read More a number of mobile printing Print From Your Android Phone With PrinterShare Print From Your Android Phone With PrinterShare Read More solutions in the past, but they were often less than ideal.

Today, with the use of some simple, free tools we often use and love, we’ll show you to create an automated mobile printing queue. Best of all? It costs nothing, except for your your carrier’s internet costs.

1. Install Dropbox on your Computer

You’ve probably heard all about Dropbox by now. If you haven’t, it’s about time. Dropbox can be best described as a folder in the cloud. This means you can access this same folder on your desktop computer, your laptop and your cellphone. It’s a great way to share documents and photos across computers.

If you want to learn more about Dropbox, MakeUseOf recently published The First Unofficial Guide to Dropbox, by Matt Smith.

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print from dropbox

Dropbox plays a central part in this mobile printing tutorial. Make sure to install it on a computer that’s connected to your printer.

If you’re using Mac OS X, create a folder called Print in your Dropbox folder, with two sub-folders PrintQueue and Log. Folders like these will be created automatically using the Windows routine.

2a. Set Up a Printing Queue on Windows

This is not nearly as difficult as it sounds. You can download this zip file containing a VBA script from Digital Inspiration. Double-clicking this file will put the aforementioned PrintQueue and Log files directly in your Dropbox folder and set up a printing queue. You can skip ahead to step three.

2b. Set Up a Printing Queue on Mac OS X

If you’re using Mac OS X, it takes a bit more effort on your side. We have Bbedell to thank for this workaround, which was originally posted in the comment section at Lifehacker.

Fire up the Automator application and choose to create a Folder Action. Type “printer” in the search field and drag “Print Finder Items” to the main window pane. Type “Trash” in the search field and drag the “Move Finder Items to Trash” to the main window pane.

Alternatively, if you want to keep the files after they’re printed, use the “Move Finder Items” workflow, to Dropbox -> Print -> Logs.

Finally, make sure to set Folder Action receives files and folders added to the PrintQueue folder you created earlier on. Save the workflow and give it a name. That’s all!

3. Move Mobile Files to Dropbox

To print a file, all you need to do is move a file on your phone to the PrintQueue folder. If your computer is turned on and connected to a printer, it’ll finish the job. On newer smartphone models, you can use the native Dropbox application, available for iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Nokia and Palm.

print from dropbox

Even on older phones, you can print a file via email by using a mail-to-Dropbox service like Habilis. And if your phone doesn’t have email functionality, you probably don’t have anything that needs printing.

What do you think of mobile printing? How do you do it? Let us know in the comments!

  1. DOMONIQUE COLSON
    October 1, 2015 at 2:11 am

    Good post ! I Appreciate the facts ! Does anyone know where my assistant would be able to acquire a fillable 2014 IRS W-9 copy to use ?

  2. Anonymous
    April 14, 2015 at 9:27 am

    This reply to the original question is both helpful and not helpful. It says that connecting an iPad to a non-wireless printer is do-able, but then it goes on into abstruse technicalities which leave me floundering. I need a step by step set of instructions which do not assume that I am already computer-savvy. Yes, I'm a dummy, but so are so many others. The skill when answering thIs sort of question is to write it in language that grandma can understand.

  3. артем миронов
    January 23, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    Here is the link to get 1 Gb FREE ON DROPBOX.
    http://db.tt/YJtCoee In order to get bonus need to sign up & install the dropbox.

  4. Matt
    January 2, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    Hey, if you don't have dropbox yet, I'd appreciate it if you could sign up using my referral link:
    https://www.dropbox.com/referrals/NTU3MDY1Njk?src=global0

    If you use this link, I'll get 500 MB of space for my school docs, and you'll get an extra 250 MB as well. Thanks in advance!

  5. Matt
    January 2, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    Hey, if you don't have dropbox yet, I'd appreciate it if you could sign up using my referral link:
    https://www.dropbox.com/referr...

    If you use this link, I'll get 500 MB of space for my school docs, and you'll get an extra 250 MB as well. Thanks in advance!

  6. Bongrose2
    December 16, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    When you press + in PrintQueue on iPhone, there's only two options,"Create Folder" & "Cancel"..tried moving a file to PrintQueue folder, opened file, and waited to print, but no success. Phone is already attached via USB. What am I doing wrong?

  7. kambizpascia
    December 11, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    incredible work
    @T.P. open dropbox on iPhone
    Go to folder DropboxPrintQueue
    add+ image on this folder
    in one minute and less on your pc start the printer

  8. kambizpascia
    December 11, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    incredible work
    @T.P. open dropbox on iPhone
    Go to folder Dropbox\PrintQueue
    add+ image on this folder
    in one minute and less on your pc start the printer

  9. Simon Slangen
    December 11, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Hi Den,

    You can see the VBA source here.

  10. Simon Slangen
    December 11, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Hi Joel,

    The iPhone app is denied root access from iOS. At the moment, your best bet would be to use the Habilis email alternative.

  11. T.P.
    December 11, 2010 at 3:41 am

    Anyone care to share how a file is moved on an iPhone?

  12. Rterry
    December 10, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Joel's question is the same as mine. I had no problem setting up PrintQueue and Log subfolders, but how the devil do I move a file from somewhere on my iPhone 4, even in DropBox itself, to the PrintQueue folder??

  13. Rick
    December 10, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    why does anyone print anything ever?

  14. Jonathan Smith
    December 7, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    @tedthetrumpet - perhaps setup different print folders for printers in various location, e.g. WorkPrinter, HomePrinter, etc. Still not foolproof but at least there are options.

    @Joel_Brock - I'm using Goodreader connected to Dropbox, which allows me to upload files to Dropbox. The cool thing about that is you can connect with a ton of other services and locations so that you're not just limited to the files already in your Dropbox.

  15. Jonathan Smith
    December 7, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    @tedthetrumpet - perhaps setup different print folders for printers in various location, e.g. WorkPrinter, HomePrinter, etc. Still not foolproof but at least there are options.

    @Joel_Brock - I'm using Goodreader connected to Dropbox, which allows me to upload files to Dropbox. The cool thing about that is you can connect with a ton of other services and locations so that you're not just limited to the files already in your Dropbox.

  16. tedthetrumpet
    December 6, 2010 at 7:30 am

    That's brilliant, but… useless?! If I'm out and about and need a printout, then I need it here with me, not at home where my printer is?

  17. tedthetrumpet
    December 6, 2010 at 8:30 am

    That's brilliant, but… useless?! If I'm out and about and need a printout, then I need it here with me, not at home where my printer is?

  18. Den
    December 6, 2010 at 4:21 am

    Seems very interesting...

    Don't like strange VBA scripts.
    Can explain how to setup the printing queue in windows ?

    • Simon Slangen
      December 11, 2010 at 1:53 pm

      Hi Den,

      You can see the VBA source here.

  19. Den
    December 6, 2010 at 5:21 am

    Seems very interesting...

    Don't like strange VBA scripts.
    Can explain how to setup the printing queue in windows ?

  20. Nasir
    December 6, 2010 at 1:40 am
  21. Joel Brock
    December 5, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Awesome! As if i didn't already love Dropbox enough....
    One question: How does one 'move' files around in the iPhone Dropbox client? Or does this hack require that i use some type of filebrowser on my phone to place files in the PrintQueue folder.

    Thanx again! Sooper solid.

    • Simon Slangen
      December 11, 2010 at 1:49 pm

      Hi Joel,

      The iPhone app is denied root access from iOS. At the moment, your best bet would be to use the Habilis email alternative.

  22. Joel Brock
    December 5, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    Awesome! As if i didn't already love Dropbox enough....
    One question: How does one 'move' files around in the iPhone Dropbox client? Or does this hack require that i use some type of filebrowser on my phone to place files in the PrintQueue folder.

    Thanx again! Sooper solid.

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