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.
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 haveto 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.
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!