Amit Argawal, over at the great Digital Inspiration blog, found a way to print a file just by uploading it to Dropbox (which you can do with most smartphones, or just an email). It’s a simple process, involving setting up a special folder in your Dropbox and running a script that watches that folder, then prints whatever comes into it. Amit’s post has all the steps necessary (it’s, like, three steps).
Update: There’s also a simple way to do it for the Mac, which Amit alludes to being possible but doesn’t really explain. Lifehacker has the info.
The uses for this are huge, as Tim Carmody describes over at Wired:
“Once you’ve got this rigged, the immediate use case is to send a document wirelessly from a smartphone or tablet to a local printer. And it is kind of magical to stand there and watch the whole process unfold, as in the video above.
But think beyond that. Suddenly, your printer is capable of networking with any computer, anywhere — with any phone, anywhere — that you approve and authorize. This is potentially so much better than hooking up a computer to a wireless router or navigating the virtual bureaucracy of an office printer network. It’s way better than a fax machine.”
For me, I’m using it to print attachments, pictures, and more. I’m working on getting it networked to more than one printer, so that I can print pictures and documents for other people, right on their own printers. It’s a simple, no-side-effects trick, and works really well.
There’s also off-the-charts mischief potential here, which I’m still working through in my head. If suddenly some not-so-appropriate things start showing up on your printer, you’ll know it’s me. And could this be the ransom note method of the future?
Anyway, to see how Amit does it and how it works, check out this video he made: