Print Files from any Mobile Phone using Dropbox
This trick will help you print documents, emails, photos, PDF files, etc. from a mobile phone and tablet to your printer. All you need is a printer connected to the computer (even your old wired printer will do) and a mobile device for sending print jobs – this could be a BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, Android or any other mobile phone.
While mobile phones have become a lot more capable in the past few years, the connection between the printer and your phone is still very weak.
For instance, if you are using a BlackBerry or an iPhone, how do you print any of the presentations or spreadsheets that you have as email attachments? Or if you are viewing driving directions on Google Maps using an iPad, how do you send that map to the printer?
Your phone’s app store will have a few printing apps to let you wirelessly print files but if you want to save a few bucks, you can simply use Dropbox to print documents from your phone to any printer without requiring any additional software.
Some upcoming printers will have built-in support for mobile printing via email but with Dropbox, you get the same feature without requiring any new hardware.
Before we get into the details, watch the video above as it shows how printing from a mobile phone actually works through Dropbox (apologies for the bad audio quality).
The workflow is like this. You download a small utility on your computer that runs in the background and constantly monitors one of your Dropbox folders for any new printing jobs.
You can send files for printing from your mobile phone through email or using any of the Dropbox mobile apps. As soon as Dropbox downloads the file locally, the utility will send it to the default printer. Once the file is printed, it gets archived in to the logs folder.
To get this thing running on your computer, please follow these easy steps:
Step 1: Make sure that you have Dropbox installed and running on the computer that is connected to the printer.
Step 2: To send print jobs from your mobile device to the printer, you have two options. You can either download a Dropbox app on your mobile phone - they have apps for iPhone, BlackBerry, iPad, Android, Windows Phone, Nokia - or the other option is you upload the files (that you would like to print) to your Dropbox using email. You can use IFTTT to send files to Dropbox over email.
Step 3: Download this zip file* and double-click the eprint.vbs file (see the source code). The script will create a sub-folder inside your main Dropbox folder called PrintQueue where all the mobile print jobs will queue up and another sub-folder called logs where all the completed jobs will be archived.
Step 4: You are now all set to print files from our mobile phone. Just send a test file from your mobile phone to that secret email address, or upload it through the Dropbox mobile app, and your printer will turn it into a hard copy almost instantly.
The utility can also handle multiple files in one go and it should print almost all file formats for which you have an associated application on the computer. If you would like to shut down the eprint utility, launch Windows task manager and end the “wscript.exe” process from the list.
Update: You can also use Google Cloud Print for remote printing.
If you have trouble setting up Dropbox for remote printing on your computer, there’s a chance that you may have associated the .vbs file with Notepad or some other text editor. Press shift and right click the file in Windows Explore and choose “Windows Based Script Host” under Open With. Alternatively, open the command prompt, type “cscript eprint.vbs” and hit enter.
Also, if you would like to close the Dropbox monitoring script, open the Windows Task Manager and remove the wscript.exe process(es). The printed jobs can be found in the PrintQueue/Logs of your Dropbox directory.
Google Developer Expert, Google Cloud Champion
Amit Agarwal is a Google Developer Expert in Google Workspace and Google Apps Script. He holds an engineering degree in Computer Science (I.I.T.) and is the first professional blogger in India.