How to access your Mac’s printer from anywhere

PrinterIconXIf you have a printer at home or at work that is configured with a Mac Mini, iMac, Mac Pro or other Mac that you have as a desktop workstation, then you might have found you can share the system’s configured printer to have it work as a print server. This will allow you to easily print from any system connected to the local network; however, in addition you can use this to print to your printer from practically anywhere on the internet.

The key here is to use Apple’s Back To My Mac service in iCloud, which will allow you to establish a connection to your desktop Mac, and thereby access a number of its shared service. For the most part, people use this for file sharing and screen sharing; however, since this establishes a direct route to your system you can use it for practically any service your Mac has configured, including printer sharing.

To do this, first log into the iCloud system preferences on your desktop system and check the box to enable Back To My Mac. Then be sure you have the Printer Sharing service checked in the Sharing system preferences.

Shared printers in OS X

In this instance, my Mac at home has a shared printer configured, that I can access from my current location at a remote cafe.

With these two features enabled, you are all set up! When you are ready to print from any document, press Command-P as you normally would, and now you can select your shared printer from the “Nearby Printers” section of the Printer menu. Doing this should have OS X install an appropriate driver for the printer, and then you will be all set up to print.

Note that often printers at home or office settings might be networked printers instead of USB printers, and you might have these configured for use on your Mac when you are connected to those networks. This will require a local connection, and therefore prevent you from printing remotely; however, you can still set up any of your office Macs to share the printer in a similar manner, and then use that as your remote print server.