Fixing AirPrint

December 31, 2011

Well, I have had a bit of a rough week with my printer that I got for Christmas. At some point, my old printer, which was an HP Photosmart C3180, stopped printing and copying, so I decided it was time to look at a new printer. The model that appealed to me the most was the HP Photosmart 6510 which had AirPrint, wireless printing, and wireless scanning. Today's post, instead of a review of the product, which I might do in a later post, I will be talking about my quest to getting AirPrint to work, as many other people have had difficulties with getting it to work.

AirPrint is a technology created by Apple for users of iOS to print content, such as web pages and e-mail, from their devices. Other choices include Google Cloud Print and HP's ePrint. However, the latter two have a few limitations, such as need of third-party apps or limits on file size and/or number of attachments.

When people are first introduced to it, Apple only gives them three requirements, which are the following:

  • iOS 4.2 or later
  • Airprint compatible printer
  • Wireless network

The printer may be on Apple's list of printers that are AirPrint-capable, but it does not mean that it will work out-of-the-box. I was one those those that thought that things would just work, as Apple's slogan goes. If you do not believe me, do run some Google searches for yourself. You will certainly find my forum posts, although you probably will not be able to tell who it is, since most of the visitors here do not know me personally. It is the same story, printer firmware is up-to-date, devices are on the same network, computer can print wirelessly, etc. My network was managed by a Netgear router. More precisely, it was a WGT624v2. I went through many of the suggested or usual steps to troubleshoot the problem, except reinstalling the drivers or restoring the printer to factory settings. As nothing related to Bonjour appeared to be in the router's administration page, I doubt it would have helped to reset the router. Another thing that kind of worried me was the age of the router may have been too old to have a firmware update that did provide such features, which I did not find out because I did not call Netgear, though I should have. Funny, huh? I supposedly have a degree in Computing Information Technology, but did not follow all troubleshooting steps. Anyway, sources have helped me isolate it down to the router, which I am grateful for. Even though printers are in Apple's compatibility list, it does not mean AirPrint will work without a hitch.

What people do not realize though is that the network must support mDNS. I am talking about the LAN that everbody creates by using ethernet and other technologies, not the ISP, since AirPrint only works on LAN. My problem was that WGT624v2 did not support Bonjour communication, which supposedly utilizes mDNS. I can confirm this because I could establish an ad-hoc, by resetting network settings on my printer to factory default, and send print jobs via AirPrint, but not so on my normal network. mDNS is important for AirPrint communication.

The thing that fixed my troubles, and easily, was to get a new router, which also confirmed the suspicions of those that answered my question with all of the data I provided. After I set up the new router, AirPrint worked without a hitch. Of course, that meant I had to reestablish this blog, so that was what caused the outage. Not all routers support everything necessary for AirPrint.

In retrospect, it is best and cheaper to follow all troubleshooting steps. Printers with Airprint capability may not just work on the network. Now, we have a new list of requirements, due to my experience.

Real requirements of AirPrint:

  • iOS 4.2 or later
  • Airprint-capable printer (with latest firmware possible)
  • Wireless network
  • Router that supports Bonjour communication (could be as simple as just a firmware update)

Anyway, I hope this helps most people out there, as it will also somewhat serve as my documentation, should I encounter the problem again.

Did your AirPrint printer work out-of-the-box or not? Is this post useful? Feel free to comment.

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