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Hands on: FingerPrint enables AirPrint for many non-compliant OS X printers


FingerPrint is a new Mac OS X application from Collobos Software that enables AirPrint printing for many OS X printers. AirPrint is Apple's new wireless printing technology for iOS devices. It works over Bonjour, Apple's version of zero configuration networking, allowing devices and services to communicate with each other on local area networks.

As originally planned, AirPrint was supposed to provide printing to shared OS X printers and to a small group of HP printers that support HP's ePrint mobile printing service. However, this feature was disabled in the final Mac OS X 10.6.5 release, and AirPrint now only supports the HP printers. FingerPrint brings the capability back to shared printers without having to resort to Terminal commands.

The $7.99 application works by browsing for Bonjour printer services. When it finds them, it re-advertises the printers adding a special field to the Bonjour data that indicates AirPrint compliance. By projecting that compliance information, your iOS devices are able to detect and then write to those printers using standard OS X protocols.

Update: See our exclusive first look at Ecamm's competitive offering, Printopia for Mac

FingerPrint worked for my old and not-especially-fully-featured Brother HL-5040 laser printer. It also worked for printers owned by several other TUAW staffers. We used beta versions of iOS 4.2 to test. Just select the Print option from any compliant application (we tested using Mobile Safari's Action menu) and choose your printer.

There's a free trial you can use to test out the software to ensure that it works with your hardware before forking over your hard-earned money. Once you've determined that the application works for you, you can purchase your license directly from the application via eSellerate. As I had some problems placing an order, Scott, the FingerPrint developer is already looking into the issue with eSellerate support.

Scott, who took time to chat with me on the phone today, explained. "[What FingerPrint does] is advertise in such a way that iOS 4.2 can see the printer. This means that most do but not all printers work with it. That's why I give the 7 day trial." He emphasizes the simplicity of the application. "Mom and Dad can use it; it will AirPrint enable many printers that wouldn't ordinarily work."

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