Print a hard copy or PDF from an iPhone or iPad


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, printing a e-mail for your boss, and put jokes in the boxes of your colleagues. And in this age where almost everything is done on your phone, it’s good to have the option to print with it instead of having to jump to a computer.

Apple has managed to build one of the easiest methods of printing from a smartphone by getting many printer manufacturers to adopt the AirPrint feature for wireless printing. Apple also has a really easy way to create PDF documents instead of a traditional printed copy – if you know how to get to them. In this article, we’ll show you both.


Printing with AirPrint

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

To get started, you need access to a wireless or network printer that: supports Apple’s AirPrint driverless printing system. If you don’t have a printer yet, see how to choose the right one. If you’ve bought a wireless printer in the last five years (or even up to 10 years in the case of HP), chances are it already supports AirPrint. Some printer manufacturers may also have an app that can print files from your device or through their own cloud service, but these are usually not as easy or pleasant 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 use AirPrint from your iPhone. In corporate environments, you may need to have your IT department open the feature to enable 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, etc.
  • Press Part to open the share sheet, scroll down and tap the Print knob. Some apps may have the Print button elsewhere. For example, if you want to print an email in the Mail app, you need to press the Answer button, then search Print at the bottom of the answer options list.
  • On the Print options screen that appears, select a printer if there is not already a default option.
  • You can now choose the number of pages to print, the number of copies, enable duplex printing, and several other printing options.
  • Tap Printand there it goes!

You can see the print queue/order status by pushing up from the bottom of the screen (iPhone with Face ID or iPad) or by double clicking the Home button (iPhone with Touch ID) to go to the App Switcher. You can also cancel the print here if it is not yet completed.

The print queue only appears in the App Switcher during active printing.

Tap for a print summary while the printout is still active, and you can also cancel it here.

Print to a PDF file

It’s amazing how a nifty feature like Print to PDF is treated like an Easter egg in iOS, especially since macOS has had an easy-to-see Save as PDF option for years. There is no button in iOS to print to a PDF; instead, you zoom in the document to get the option, here’s how:

  • Using the instructions above, go to the Print options screen for the file or page you want to convert to PDF (see instructions above).
  • Pinch the preview of the printable document as if to zoom in on it. It will fly towards you as if you are entering a new video game stage.
  • Now you have opened the document as a PDF. You can scroll between pages, zoom, and find text on this screen, all to confirm that the document you want looks correct.
  • Tap the Part button at the bottom left.
  • Select Save to files to choose where to save the document, or choose another app to send it directly to someone, such as Mail, Messages, or AirDrop.