If you have decided to print during your event, there are a few things you’ll need to know to help make things easier during the event itself. This guide includes everything you need to know, from how to troubleshoot connection problems to suggestions on optimizing graphics.

Printing is not supported for Virtual Booth.

There are three main things you will need to accomplish in order to print successfully:

  1. Wirelessly connect the printer to your iPad
  2. Format the prints for a polished final result
  3. Enable print options for guests

Connecting the printer to your iPad involves having access to a reliable WiFi network, because iPads don’t support wired printing. Both devices must be connected to the same WiFi network in order for them to be able to communicate.

Formatting the prints is important because most of our layouts aren’t necessarily optimized for a 4x6 or 5x7 piece of paper. An unformatted image might include mismatched graphics or extra white space, resulting in an unprofessional appearance. We have some handy tools to make reformatting as simple as possible.

Both of these things can involve some trial and error! If you are new to printing and get stuck, know that it will get easier. Practicing ahead of time is a really great way to get comfortable with it all.

Finally, choosing print options for guests (like whether auto-print is enabled) is simple and straightforward.

Printer Recommendations

Simple Booth apps support printing to any AirPrint compatible printers. Most new consumer printers support AirPrint. This page on Apple’s website lists all AirPrint printers, so please be sure to reference that list if you don’t plan to use one of our recommendations!

We recommend two different types of printers: “consumer” printers and professional printers.

Consumer printers are easy to use and more affordable to purchase, but are slower to print and have a higher cost-per-print. This type of printer is best for more casual events with friends or family.

We recommend using a professional printer if you plan to use the booth for your business or higher profile events. Dye-sublimation printers are designed for photo printing and are traditionally used with photo booths. These printers have much faster print speeds and a lower cost-per-print, but are more expensive to purchase. The investment is worth it if you’re using your photo booth regularly!

Dye-sub printers are not AirPrint compatible so must be paired with wireless print server software so that they can be used with iPads and Simple Booth apps.

Consumer Printer Recommendations

  • HP Tango: The HP Tango is an inkjet printer that supports a variety of paper sizes. Each print takes about 60 seconds.
  • Epson PictureMate: The Epson PictureMate printers are inkjet printers that support 4x6” and 5x7” photo paper. Each print takes about 75 seconds.

Professional printer Recommendations

We recommend DNP or HiTi brand dye-sublimation printers. These printers can finish a print in as little as 30 seconds!

Wireless print server software

The problem we run into with dye-sublimation printers is that they don’t have any wireless capabilities built in. Plugging the printer into print server software (which does have wireless capabilities) is what allows the printer to communicate with your iPad so the print can be transferred.

We recommend a couple of programs you can use. Both of these programs include a free trial that we'd encourage you to test with your printer before making any purchases:

  • For Mac: Printopia
  • For PC: O'Print. Please note that O'Print is less reliable. If you need to use a PC for your print server, please use O'Print's trial before your event to ensure the software will work well with your printer.

Since print server software is required, using a dye-sublimation printer always requires a couple of extra setup steps, but once you’re familiar with the process these printers are easy to use!

Connect your printer

In this section, we’ll describe how to connect the printer to your iPad for both consumer printers and dye-sublimation printers.

If there’s one golden rule for printing it’s this: In order for your printer and iPad to communicate, both devices must be on the same network. Simple Booth supports printing via AirPrint, which is built into your iPad and only supports printing via WiFi (bluetooth or wired printing are not supported by AirPrint).

Not all networks are created equal, and how quickly you can print will depend on the network you are using.

Once the printer and iPad are on the same network, you will be able to select your printer from your Simple Booth settings and start printing!

A note about WiFi vs. Internet

Contrary to popular belief, WiFi and Internet are not the same thing! The Internet is what links various devices across the entire world. In order to send a file like a picture from your iPad to a friend’s inbox in another country, you need to be connected to the Internet.

These days, most people connect to the Internet via cellular data or a WiFi network that is created by a router, allowing for digital sharing.

It’s also possible to set up a WiFi network that allows for “local communication” between two devices that are physically within the range of that specific network. This is sometimes referred to as a Local Area Network (LAN) and can be used for printing if you need, but it would not allow for communication with any other devices outside of the network (i.e., guests’ cell phones). This means that if you are offering printing together with digital sharing options, being connected to the Internet is ideal so that guests can receive their digital copy during the event.

If you need to use a local network, rest assured we’ll always queue the digital copies and send them out later.

Certain printers come with this type of network built in, or you can create your own LAN as a backup for other types of printers.

Ways to make the connection

There are more ways to make the connection than you may think!

While it is important to test at your office or home, in many circumstances you’ll be using a different network at the event. No matter how much planning you do, certain venues will not have a WiFi network available for you to use, or the network they can provide will have security in place that disrupts your ability to print. It’s smart to have at least two of the options from the list below available in case you need a backup!

Internet-based options

  • Venue network: this can be a great, easy option if the network is reliable! It will allow you to both print and share digital copies simultaneously, which is ideal.
  • Hotspot or the iPad’s built in cellular network: this type of network is an excellent Plan A or Plan B for printing and in most circumstances is very reliable. Similar to using the venue’s network, it will support sharing digitally during the event together with the prints.

Options without internet access

  • Printer’s ad hoc network: this is an excellent, easy-to-use Plan A or Plan B option. The connection will be very reliable and since it is built in, you know you can always use it if necessary.
  • Router: using a router allows you to create your own ad hoc network, and a simple model will do the trick for most events, so you don’t need to break the bank!
  • Other LAN: certain other devices, like Mac and other laptops will allow you to create a network.

Determining network reliability

Certain networks can't be used for printing, like those with a firewall or other security restrictions. Since the type of WiFi network(s) you will have access to can be unpredictable until you arrive at the event and get set up, we recommend having some type of backup network you can fall back to.

You may only have one option available to you, but if there are multiple networks at the venue you can certainly test them all to see which may be best to use.

Testing is simple: be sure your iPad and printer are on the network you plan to test, and attempt to print at least one test picture (either from your settings or a test session). If the print(s) get stuck, the network may be the issue (although there are some other things you can troubleshoot that we’ll cover). Switch to the next network available to you and try again.

If you do try multiple networks, be sure to forget any of them that you don't plan to use.

How to make the connection

These instructions assume that you have done the formatting work ahead of time! We don’t recommend trying to figure out the formatting immediately before the event, and instructions on formatting can be found below this section.

If you get stuck at any point in the process, see our troubleshooting steps below!

For consumer printers

  1. Ensure your printer has been set up according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Make sure the printer is plugged in and turned on.
  3. Determine which network is most reliable, and forget other networks you have tested.
  4. Once the iPad and printer are on the same network, the printer can be selected from the top section of the in-app prints panel. Tap the “choose" button and you can select it from the list that populates.
  5. Don’t forget to double check the rest of your settings!
  6. You’re ready to start your event.

For dye-sublimation printers

  1. Ensure your printer has been set up according to the manufacturer’s instructions (this normally involves installing printer driver software). Failing to set up the printer properly can result in the printer failing to print, no matter what else you try.
  2. Ensure your print server software has been set up according to instructions. If you’re stuck with Printopia, find their troubleshooting steps here. If you’re stuck on O’Print, find their troubleshooting suggestions on their website.
  3. Make sure that the printer is plugged into the laptop. You should see that your printer is “shared” to your print server software within the settings.
  4. Make sure your printer & laptop are both plugged in and turned on.
  5. Determine which network is most reliable, and forget other networks you have tested.
  6. Once the iPad and printer are on the same network, the printer can be selected from the top section of the in-app prints panel. Tap the “choose" button and you can select it from the list that populates.
  7. Don’t forget to double check the rest of your settings!
  8. You’re ready to start your event.

Formatting the prints

Aside from connecting your devices properly, the second main part of printing is formatting the layout to your printer paper so that the final results look great!

Simple Booth layouts are designed primarily for digital sharing, where there aren't typically sizing restrictions in place. The size of the digital copies of your photos will automatically adjust based on the screen size.

Your printer paper, however, does have physical dimensions we must print within -- most people use 4x6 or 5x7 photo paper. Many of our layouts will not meet the same “aspect ratio” as your printer paper, so you'll likely need to make some adjustments.

How to think about formatting

A centered print and even margins throughout the layout is what really makes your printouts look professionally done. Consider the example print previews below, where the layout with less “white space” looks much better. We have a few tools available along with some sensible advice to help you even things up!

Most layouts can be modified to translate well to a print-out, but some of our layouts simply don’t work well for prints! In general, changing the crop or adjusting your graphics are the most helpful layout changes you can make.

Designing for printing

Printing logos

Printing with logos is simple and straightforward. If you have added a logo to the layout in your design panel, the logo will always show up on your prints.

Keep in mind that adding or removing a logo from your layout can sometimes help with the overall format by changing the aspect ratio.

Printing backgrounds and overlays

Printing backgrounds and overlays can involve some extra work. If you are using a background or overlay in your design panel, that might translate well to the print out or you may need to design a new print-specific graphic.

Force Fit automatically disables digital backgrounds and overlays added to the design panel to prevent distortion. This is because those graphics have to be designed to fit the dimensions of your digital layout or GIF, and those dimensions change when Force Fit is applied.

This means you will typically need to design print-specific graphics if you plan to use Force Fit with an overlay or background.

If you don’t want or need to use Force Fit, your digital background or overlay will apply to the prints.

Making adjustments to your layout

Simple Booth supports a few tools to help you fine tune the look of your prints.

Force Fit

Our Force Fit feature is like a magic wand -- when enabled, it crops each picture in the layout and alters the dimensions so that the photos fill the space with even margins on all sides. You’ll find the button in your print panel.

Force Fit works best when your layout is already close in size to the paper size you have selected. Fewer adjustments make for less cropping, meaning the print will look more like the original digital copy.

Padding

The padding tools allow you to fine-tune things a bit further together with or instead of Force Fit.

Padding can be added to each side of the print -- positive padding adds a little extra space to the side it has been added to. Negative padding will remove some of the extra space from the side it has been added to.

This is a great way to make smaller, more manual adjustments than you are able to make with Force Fit.

Printing Photo Strips

When a "photo strip" layout is in use (this includes the 1x2, 1x3, and 1x4 strips), Simple Booth apps will automatically arrange two vertical photo strips on a sheet if there is room.

Formatting two strips

Adjusting the layout in certain ways can be really helpful (or in certain circumstances, might be necessary) in order for us to duplicate the strips for you. Our best recommendations around settings for duplicate strips follow:

  1. Use square crop or a portrait orientation. Landscape orientation results in wider frames, and it is difficult to fit two of the strips on the paper when the frames are wider.
  2. If landscape mode is a priority, select the 1x4 photo strip layout which is taller than the 1x3 (this taller layout creates more room for the wider frames).
  3. Place a logo on the strip (this also helps make the overall layout taller).
  4. If you have the option, 5x7 paper will give you proportionally more width to place two photo strips than a 4x6 paper does.

We describe this in more detail in our blog if you are having trouble!

Cutting photo strips

Dye-Sublimation Printers

Some dye-sublimation printers will automatically cut your photo strips for you, which can save a ton of time! You'll be able to turn on your printer's cutting feature from Printopia or O'Print.

Consumer Printers

The other types of printers we recommend don't include automatic cutting, so we suggest using a simple paper cutter to do the job.

Print options for guests

All Simple Booth apps also include a print button guests can use when enabled. This can be turned on in addition to (or instead of) auto print.

HALO plans include auto print, which will print one copy from each photo booth session once the guest taps through to the send page.

When the print button is enabled, you are able to select a maximum number of copies that can be printed for each session. When guests reach the send screen in the app, they’ll be able select their desired number of prints, but won’t be able to print more than the limit you set.

Reprints

There are a couple of ways to print photos after you event.

Our apps will send specific instructions to the printer about how to format our layouts onto the photo paper when printing directly from the app. Most of the digital copies that are saved do not include those formatting instructions.

Classic

An easy way to print photos is to open your Photos app on the iPad where they are saved and print via AirPrint from there.

This doesn't have all the same formatting features that Simple Booth applies, however. Depending on the layout you used and your paper size, you might need to trim off some extra white space from the prints.

HALO

HALO is integrated with Dropbox. Our Dropbox integration supports saving 4x6 or 5x7 "formatted sheets."

These "formatted sheets" will include the proper padding and formatting

After the event you will have a folder of images ready to print, just like they were meant to be!

Keep in mind that either the 4x6 or 4x7 formatted sheets save option must be enabled during your event in order to preserve this formatting information. Saving to these Dropbox folders after the event is over does not reintroduce the necessary formatting information.

Troubleshooting Connectivity

Simple Booth uses Apple's AirPrint protocol, which means your iPad and printer will communicate over a WiFi network at your events. As we’ve mentioned elsewhere in this guide, the main requirement is that the printer and iPad are on the same WiFi network, which is what allows the two devices to communicate.

If you are having trouble connecting, there are a few potential causes. The first step is to confirm that the printer has been set up properly.

  1. Plug in and turn on the printer.
  2. Make sure the iPad and printer (or your wireless print server device) are both on the same WiFi network.
  3. If you have tried multiple networks that are "in range," make your iPad forget any network you don't plan to use.

If you're unable to print after following the steps above, we will first need to isolate the issue by answering the following questions:

  1. Is the printer working on its own? Try plugging your printer into a computer and printing a file that is saved to the computer (or something from the web works too).
  2. Is the WiFi network reliable? Once the wired test print from step 1 works, it is time to test the wireless connection. Open up the iPad's built in "Photos" app, select any image from your Camera Roll, and try printing it to your printer.
  3. Is Simple Booth printing? Once the Photos app test print works, it is time to test your Simple Booth app.
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