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PRINT TIPS: The disadvantage of using an Apple AirPort Express

Here at Printerbase, we always work hard to give you the right advice and helpful tips when it comes to any questions you have regarding printing.

Recently, we had one of our valued customers looking for some information on the Apple AirPort Express, which is a Wi-Fi base station that allows you to do a variety of things.

Our customer wanted to know whether the AirPort Express would allow him to use any printer/MFP on Mac and Windows machines?

In short, the answer is yes – although, we have found that it isn’t as straight forward as it may seem.

As mentioned earlier, the AirPort Express gives you plenty of different options, including allowing you to plug it into any printer/MFP via USB and then share across Windows and Mac computers – basically, using it as a USB print server.

However,  we wouldn’t recommend using an AirPort Express as a USB print server because, somewhat strangely, it will not allow you to do the following:

  • Print from Apple iOS devices such as iPad, iPhone, etc
  • Use any of the other features on Multifunctions, such as scan, fax forward to email, etc.

A couple of fairly important features to anyone using printers nowadays – definitely not the kind of things you want missing from your print setup!

Of course, there are other uses for the AirPort Express, including:

  • Using it as wireless client bridge (a hardware component used to connect two or more network segments)
  • Using it as a repeater to extend the Wi-Fi range – only works with in conjunction with AirPort Extreme, Time Capsule, or other AirPort Express
  • Play music wirelessly by plugging in “AirPlay” capable speakers



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