Being able to print to a PDF file that gets saved on my Mac through AirPrint from my iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch when I’m chilling on the couch is the perfect solution but it’s not supported out of the box just yet.
AirPrint is a great idea but officially it’s limited to a small number of supported printers plus the fact that I don’t even have a printer at home.
If you do have printers at home you can also print to them over AirPrint using this method. They don’t have to be on Apple’s approved list.
It’s somewhat of a hack but most people don’t want to shell out for a new print just to beam the odd print job from their iOS device to their printer now and again.
So often I’ll want to print to PDF and then print it from the office later or email a PDF to someone.
To do this we need to use two little pieces of free software for Mac. The first is CUPS-PDF, which is a PDF printer for Mac.
Yes – I know you can ‘Save to PDF’ in Mac but this adds and actual PDF Printer to your Printers dialog which is what we need.
The second is AirPrint Activator. This makes your PDF printer (and any other printer you have) an AirPrint printer!
Here’s how to do it:
1) Download & install CUPS-PDF from here.
2) Now open System Preferences > Print & Fax
3) Click the + symbol to add a new printer
4) Click the Default tab and select CUPS-PDF > Add
5) Back in Print & Fax, select the CUPS-PDF printer and click Share this printer on the network.
5a) If you want to print to a normal printer as well as PDF, enable Sharing on that printer at this point.
6) Click Sharing Preferences button and make sure Printer Sharing is enabled.
7) Download the latest version of AirPrint Activator from here
8) Extract AirPrint Activator and drag it into your Applications folder
9) Launch AirPrint Activator and switch the toggle switch to ON. You should notice your shared printers, including the CUPS-PDF printer appear in the list.
10) Now on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad open up something that you’d like to print. Tap the Sharing button > Print.
11) Tap Select Printer. Your iOS device should scan for printers and list all of your shared printers on the network including your CUPS-PDF printer.
12) Select your CUPS-PDF printer and then tap Print.
13) Your PDF file will be saved on your Mac in /Users/Shared/CUPS-PDF directory. You may have to change the permissions at first.
Tested on iOS 4.2.1 on an iPhone 3GS.