FingerPrint bridges AirPrint sharing gap for Macs

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Last week, I concluded a piece on the missing print sharing feature of Apple’s forthcoming AirPrint by writing:

Of course, there’s nothing to say that the shared-printer functionality of AirPrint won’t surface at some point in the future—or that enterprising third parties won’t figure out a way to bridge the gap.

And once again allow me to trot out my cardinal rule of technology: never bet against the hackers. Collobos Software has released FingerPrint, a Mac app that lets you share printers and access them on a device running iOS 4.2.

FingerPrint uses Bonjour to automatically detect shared printers on your network, then presents them in a list, allowing you to choose which ones you want to make available for AirPrint use. It’s that simple and, in my brief tests, it works seamlessly.

Collobos does say that not all printers are compatible with AirPrint, but I’m guessing that most models by common vendors should work without too much trouble (my HP LaserJet is at least seven or eight years old and I had no problems setting it up). Unlike Apple’s erstwhile printer solution, which required Mac OS X 10.6.5, FingerPrint works with Macs running 10.5 or 10.6—Windows users, however, will have to wait for their own enterprising third party. And, of course, you’ll need a device running the forthcoming iOS 4.2.

The full version of FingerPrint costs $8; you can try out a full-featured free trial for seven days, if you don’t mind staring at a huge Lost-style countdown clock.

Of course, we’re still waiting for the final release of iOS 4.2, as well as any further information Apple would care to offer about the fate of this feature. But if you’re looking for a stopgap and don’t want to mess with hacks dependent on pre-release OS files, FingerPrint may just well be it.

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