Use Printopia to send docs and photos to your Mac

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Ecamm’s Printopia lets you print from your iOS devices to any printer connected to your Mac. But in this video, I show you how to configure virtual printers for saving documents and images from your iOS devices—or even from other Macs—to your Mac.


Way back in iOS 4.2, AirPrint promised to let you print, wirelessly, from your iOS device to any printer shared by your Mac. But AirPrint ended up working with only a few specific, AirPrint-enabled printers.

A couple years ago, we showed you how Ecamm Network’s Printopia fulfills AirPrint’s promise by letting you print from your iOS device to any printer connected to, or networked with, your Mac—as long as that Mac is on and awake, and connected to the same network as your iPhone or iPad.

But Printopia does a lot more than letting you print to paper, thanks to virtual printers that let you send documents to folders and applications on your Mac.

By default, Printopia creates two virtual printers. The first is Send To Mac, which, when selected as the destination “printer” on your iOS device, saves any “printed” photo or document to a Printopia folder inside your Documents folder. The second, Send To Dropbox On Mac, saves files to a similar folder inside your Dropbox folder—where, of course, they’re synced to all your other devices.

You can create as many additional “Send to Mac” virtual printers as you like. For example, I have one that saves to a Web Receipts folder inside my Mac’s Dropbox folder—whenever I purchase something using Safari on my iPad, I use Printopia to save the receipt to this folder by “printing” the webpage.

You can also use Printopia to send files directly to applications on your Mac. For example, when I take a screenshot on my iPad, there’s a good chance that the screenshot will eventually find its way to the Acorn image editor on my Mac. So I’ve created a virtual printer called Send To Acorn; I can simply print a screenshot using the Send To Acorn virtual printer, and the image is sent to my Mac and automatically opened in Acorn. Similarly, I’ve got Send To Preview and Send to PDFpen virtual printers that automatically open PDF versions of documents in OS X’s Preview app and Smile’s PDFpen, respectively.

Other possibilities include Amazon’s Send To Kindle Mac app to send longer Web articles to your Kindle, and AppleScripts you might use to handle images and PDF files that you “print” from your iOS devices.

And here’s one more tip: AirPrint isn’t just for iOS devices. You can also print via Printopia from another Mac on your local network, making AirPrint a convenient way to send documents from one Mac to another.

I use these virtual-printer features far more than I actually print from my iOS devices. Until iOS 8 makes it easier to move documents between my Macs and my iPads and iPhones, Printopia fills a big need for me.

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