How to get the most out of the iOS 13 printing system


Learn how to print to PDF while on the go and even do custom printing options like labels or manage existing print jobs scheduled through AirPrint right on your iOS 13 devices.

Image: Apple, Inc.

We’ve previously covered how to print on iOS even when you don’t have a compatible AirPrint printer, but did you know that there’s even more that you can do on iOS when it comes to printing? iOS has a very robust printing subsystem that can allow you to export PDFs and more.

In this article, we’ll delve into how to print custom items like labels. We’ll also see how to print to PDF instead of paper and how to manage printer jobs and viewing supply levels.

SEE: Mobile device computing policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Custom printing

Print to PDF instead of printer

Sometimes when you’re on the go (or even when you’re not), it may be important to send a PDF to someone or save a PDF to iCloud Drive that you otherwise normally print for safekeeping.

iOS 13 can handily help in this situation, and it works in any app that supports printing or sharing. In this tutorial, we’ll be using Safari as an example.

SEE: Apple iOS 14: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)

To print to PDF using any app that supports printing: 

  1. Navigate to the app and section of the app that supports printing. 
  2. Select the Share (or Print) button in the app to (for Safari, you tap the Share button, then Print).
  3. Using two fingers, pinch apart your fingers as if zooming on the print preview. This will generate a PDF and show a new view.
  4. In this Print Preview PDF view, you can use the Share button (Figure A) to save the PDF to Files, send as an iMessage or an email with ease.

Figure A

iosprintingtips-figure-a.jpg

Sharing a PDF from a Print Preview is easy and works anywhere printing is supported system-wide.

Printing labels

At the time of this writing, the only way to print labels for contacts is by turning to a third-party app (despite the Mac’s Contacts app having had this feature built-in for years).

If you are using contact sheets for Avery Labels, then look no further than these two apps available on the iOS App Store:

Both of these apps allow you to select the type of printer labels you have available (or enter their sizing manually and they will let you print a sheet of single contacts or multiple contacts per sheet depending on your needs. They also offer clip art features letting you quickly and easily decorate and design your labels.

Managing print jobs and check supply levels

Sometimes before you print, you may want to check to ensure the printer you’ll be using has plenty of ink or toner, and once you’ve spooled a print job, you may need to monitor the status or cancel it. Fortunately, iOS can handle all of these tasks with ease.

Viewing printer supply levels

If you are using a personal printer, it may be important to inspect the ink or toner supply levels of your printer from time to time. If you are an iOS or iPadOS exclusive user, then you may be wondering how to do this without a computer. 

Fortunately, you can do this easily in iOS:

  1. Open the Printer dialog through the Share Sheet (or Print button) in any app that supports printing.
  2. Select Printer.
  3. Select the “i” button beside of the available printer name.
  4. You will now be viewing Printer Info, which contains ink levels, name, and location (if supplied by printer/print server) (Figure B).

Figure B

iosprintingtips-figure-b.jpg

Viewing ink or toner levels can be done from the iOS print setup dialog in any app.

Manage active printer jobs

When you print with AirPrint, it can be important to be able to manage your print jobs. Once a print job has been started, you can look at the status of the job and cancel the print job by opening the App Switcher (double-tap the Home Button, or swipe up partially on the screen, hold, and release on Face ID devices). 

You’ll see the printer job app as the topmost app (Figure C). Tapping it will give you details like how many pages are being printed and which page is actively being queued. Using the Cancel Printing button, you can stop any active jobs. 

Figure C

iosprintingtips-figure-c.jpg

When printing on iOS or iPadOS, a new app will appear in the App Switcher to manage the print jobs.

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