Technology has made printing documents a lot less necessary than it used to be, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never need to do it. Still, many people no longer own printers. So what do you do in those situations?
First, Get the File Ready to Print
Before we go to find a printer to use, you’ll need to make sure the document is ready to print. There are a couple of different ways you can do this, but the first thing to do is “Print to PDF.”
The “Print to PDF” feature is essentially a way to save the document as it would be printed. Rather than choosing a printer during the printing process, you select “Print to PDF” instead. The document will be converted to PDF and saved on your device. This can be done in both Windows and Mac.
After you have the PDF, you’ll need to move it somewhere for printing. You could put it on a USB drive and take that to the printing place. Another option is to save it to a cloud storage service—such as Google Drive—if you will be able to access the internet on a computer with the printer.
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Visit a Library
The typical library offers much more than just the ability to check out physical books. Many of them have computers and printers that you can use for free. Some will charge a fee if you have a lot to print, but it’s often the most affordable option.
Check your local library’s website for information about the services they provide. You may even find some other reasons to pick up a library card while you’re there.
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Head to a Shipping Center
It’s pretty common for places that deal with shipping to also have printing services. UPS and FedEx are two businesses that do this and are found in many places. They can handle printing posters and signs, but also standard size documents.
Unlike the library, you’ll probably pay more for printing at these places. Still, the cost for a basic 8.5″x11″ document is typically very low. Expect to pay around $0.10 for single-sided black-and-white pages.
Print at Work
Depending on where you work, you may already have access to a printer that you can use for free. If there’s a printer at the place where you work, it’s often totally fair game for personal use. However—and this is a big however—you need to make sure it’s okay. Nobody wants to get fired for using a few pages of company paper. Check with the people in charge if it’s okay to use the printer.
Mooch Off Friends
As a last resort—or maybe the first resort, if you don’t mind—you can simply ask a friend or family member if you can borrow their printer. We don’t like to stereotype, but there’s a good chance your older acquaintances still have a printer. It’s pretty common to have the same printer for many years. It may not work well, but it’s free. Don’t be afraid to ask.
There you have it, you have options if you don’t feel like a printer is a worthwhile investment. For many people, that’s true. If you only print a few things a year, it’s probably not worth the hassle of dealing with a printer and ink or toner.
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