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Print From Anywhere with Dropbox, IFTTT, and Automator

Broken HP Printer

If you’ve owned an iOS device, you’ve probably wanted to print from it at some point. Maybe it’s a file, maybe it’s a webpage or e-mail–sometimes, the people want their paper copies. And so Apple eventually introduced AirPrint, which allows “AirPrint-enabled applications . . . [to] print to an AirPrint-enabled printer,” at least as long as you’re on the same wifi network. Great, right?

I wouldn’t know, because I don’t have an AirPrint-enabled printer, even though it is capable of wireless printing.

Faced with the same problem, Dave Caolo rigged a solution that marries three favorite ProfHacker technologies: Dropbox, IFTTT (If This Then That), and Automator. In his post, he offers step-by-step screenshots explaining how to do the following:

  1. Create a Dropbox folder
  2. Create an Automator action to print anything that exists in that folder
  3. Finally, create an IFTTT action that creates a text file or saves an attachment in a Dropbox folder upon receipt of an e-mail.

It’s very simple. And, unlike AirPrint, you don’t have to be on the same wifi network.

The downside is that the setup only works for one printer. So if you’ve set this up to work at home, but you want to print something while you’re at work, you can do that–but it will be waiting for you when you get home. (Or, vice versa, as the case may be.)

It’s a nifty solution that only takes a couple of minutes to set up. Why not check it out for yourself? In addition to the specific purpose, Caolo’s post is a great example of how make your life easier by fitting together different readymade blocks of automation.

Photo “Broken HP Printer” by Flickr user Mark Hillary / Creative Commons licensed

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