My printer, a Kodak 5250, [1. So close.] does not support Apple’s AirPrint and likely never will. That’s too bad, because I’d like to print from my iPhone and iPad. Today I worked up a convoluted work-around with some additional benefits. [1. Printopia is a fine solution and I recommend it. Set it up and it works. But where’s the fun in that?] Best of all, it didn’t cost me a dime.
The idea is to create a folder in Dropbox and attach a Folder Action to it that prints new additions. I use email to populate that folder and thereby trigger print jobs. Here’s how to set it up with IFTTT, Dropbox and Apple’s Automator.
To get started, you’ll need an IFTTT account and a Dropbox account. Go to IFTTT.com and GetDropbox.com to sign up. Both are free [1. Dropbox offers 2 GB of storage for free. Additional storage is available for a fee.]. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to get started.
Dropbox and Automator
The first step is to create a destination folder in Dropbox. I made one called “Print.” Next, create a Folder Action with Automator and attach it to that folder. The action will print any document that’s added to the folder (below). Here’s how to create it.
- Launch Automator, which can be found in your Applications folder.
- Automator asks you to select a template. Click Folder Action and then click Choose.
- Click Utilities in the Action Library on the left and then find Print Finder Items in the next column. Drag it into window on the right.
- Choose your destination folder (“Print” in my case) from the drop-down at the top of the window.
- Select the printer you’d like to use from the Print To drop-down.
- Click Save and you’re done.
Easy, right? To test it out, drop a text file into the folder. If you did it correctly, your printer should spring to life and produce the document. [1. Bonus feature: Place an alias to that folder on your desktop for easy drag-and-drop printing.]. Now, on to the next step: getting stuff into that folder easily from an iPhone or iPad.