It can be challenging to figure out what to do when asked to provide a paper copy of a document, but you don’t have access to a home printer. It used to be safe for everyone to have a printer at home, but that’s no longer the case – but if you don’t have one, you don’t have to be nervous. There are printers everywhere, and finding one you can use is often as easy as doing a quick Google search. There are several print-on-demand options that you can access from almost anywhere globally.
Get Ready to Print
Often the file you want to print on your computer must be transferred to another computer connected to the printer. Depending on your usage, you can also download files from the Internet and print them to a specific location (depending on the service, you can connect directly to a cloud service such as Google Drive or Dropbox). If your printer or organization doesn’t support downloading from the Internet, you’ll need to store the files on a USB-A drive or similar media. First, check to see if there is a place where you want to receive files electronically.
As for the types of files that can print, the Microsoft Docx and Adobe PDF formats are widely used. So, if you want to print text, these formats are probably the best choice. If your document contains a lot of custom fonts, formatting, and images, you should first export them to PDF using the Recommended Document Export to ensure they print correctly.
Now that you’ve got that sorted out, here are a few options:
Use the Library
Libraries are not just for books! Libraries are open to the public and ideal resources for anyone looking for an easy way to print documents. While most people think of libraries simply as places to borrow books and DVDs, the truth is much more complicated depending on your choice. Libraries offer all kinds of services, depending on where you live, and one of those services is usually printing and computer access. If it’s not free, it’s often cheap.
If you’re not sure if your local library offers printing services, use this Google search. To find your nearest library, visit their website. Search for a subsection or category of services or computer access. Libraries usually offer computer access for those of us who cannot print or use computers at home. Most libraries offer free computers, and some do not even require a library fee to use them.
Print access may or may not be free, but costs per page are low. Costs can add up quickly when printing a stack of documents, but you’ll probably pay less than a dollar for five-page black and white paper. Check with the library to see if you need to use one of their computers or if they support wireless printing from your phone or laptop.
If you are a college or university student, visit your campus library to print papers every time you need an essay. Generally, your tuition is subject to a printing fee that you can use to print documents on campus. There are no restrictions on what you can print on college campuses, like whether you print paper for school or a shipping label to return an Amazon shirt you bought. It didn’t fit; you’ll be ready to go. You can still use library resources if you are not in school.
Copy and Print Shops
Despite being a dying breed, there are still specialty stores solely dedicated to providing copy and printing services and offering paper and other document-related materials. As a rule, these are local family stores in large and small cities and sometimes in the suburbs of the United States.
You want a Google search for nearby copy and print stores, although it may also display some other stores on our list. Copy and print shops precisely offer the needs of people who need something printed, and the disadvantage of higher prices for their services.
Ask a Friend or Family Member
If you only print one or two pages and family or friends have a printer, you can request them if you can use it. This can help avoid privacy issues when printing on publicly available equipment. However, it’s not the best method if you need to print an entire novel. It may work if you need a paper copy.
Apartment and Hotels
Hotels and residential complexes often have commercial service centers that offer copy, print, scan, and fax services to residents or guests. These services are usually reserved for the people who live there. However, staff (particularly in hotels) often delight in letting someone walk off the street with a quick print job responding to a polite request. If you live in an apartment complex, the rental office may want to print random documents for the resident, even if your complex does not have a separate business center. It never hurts to ask!
Ask If You Can Print While You Work
If you work in an office that has printers and no strict rules about their use, it might be worth asking your supervisor or IT department if you can use the printer to print one or two personal documents. The worst thing that can happen is that they say no, and you are surprised to hear yes. However, since many desktop printers are monitored for proper use (the IT department can track who is printing each job), the “allow but don’t allow” approach is not recommended. You also don’t want to scold (or worse) for printing when you have other options.
In addition to the possibility of monitoring by the IT department, printers are likely to place in public places, and someone could accidentally take a document while in use.
Delivery centers often also offer printing services, whether for large jobs like creating posters or banners or for more mundane tasks like printing permit forms or routine forms. Some shops are labeled explicitly as print or business centers, but even those that don’t can print a few pages for you. The cost will depend on how many pages you print; I paid $0.12 for a single-sided black and white page at my local UPS store.
Again – and somewhat surprisingly, since these shops are business-oriented – this option may not be the best for sensitive documents. The printing process at the UPS office mentioned above consisted of emailing an attachment to the store. The operator would then open and print before giving me the resulting paper. Other stores and places may do different things, but you should probably check before traveling.
For example, the UPS store has more than 5,000 stores in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada, offering copy and print services. According to the information posted on its website, the UPS store offers copies, black and white or color printing, single-sided or double-sided printing, multiple pages, and even laminating and binding for those who need a good report or essay. UPS also allows you to upload your documents online and offers a print quote based on your document.
Once you submit your file, you will be told an estimated turnaround time (which seems pretty short for a simple document), and you can pick it up from the shop when it is ready. Prices in our tests were quite competitive: about 40 cents per page in color and 15 cents per page in black and white. Check with your UPS store for current prices. There are many supported file formats for UPS printing, including doc, PDF, jpeg, and even Photoshop and Illustrator documents.
Printing on FedEx
FedEx offers its services through FedEx Office Shops (formerly Kinko’s), directly competing with UPS stores. The number of FedEx Office Shops worldwide is small; according to the FedEx website, there are more than 2,000 in the US and abroad. However, if you live near a FedEx office, you will be convinced, given Kinko’s heritage of offering the same printing and copying services as its nearest competitor. Documents can also be picked up or mailed to the office, although sending documents to the office comes at an additional cost.
Uploading documents to FedEx is easy, as multiple file formats are supported or directly from cloud-based document services such as Google Drive or Dropbox. If there is a downside to using the system, it is the cost. Our test document, a very small one-page black and white document, cost almost 70 cents, which added 15 cents to the cost of UPS. This can vary by region. Check with your FedEx store for pricing. However, depending on the number of pages, it may not be too expensive; even if you have FedEx and there is no UPS nearby, they can help you decide.
These are two reputable stores, but it is still a good idea to find a local carrier that also offers printing and photocopying services.
Office Depot and OfficeMax
Like UPS and FedEx’s printing options, most major office supply stores offer printing services that might be right for you. While there are shops like Office Depot, OfficeMax (which is owned by Office Depot), and Staples for selling paper, printers, and other similar printed materials, they offer all kinds of printing that you can use at your disposal. For example, at Office Depot, most essential documents can be printed on the same day if you order before 2:00 pm local time on weekdays. Because they also offer mobile charging through their iOS and Android apps, you don’t have to be at your computer to download a document.
Prices through Office Depot and OfficeMax are pretty cheap. The double-sided black and white page gave us an estimated worth of just 9 cents, beating even a library in our area. Even full-color pages cost only 42 cents for each duplex. It’s easy enough to find your nearest OfficeMax or Office Depot, but you can also order product delivery for an additional fee. And while we’re focusing on document printing in this article, you can print various types of projects with Office Depot’s printing software, which can be found online.
Staples such as Office Depot and OfficeMax have online document downloads for easy pickup or delivery and are offered at about 10 cents per page for black and white prints and about 50 cents per page for color prints. Call for pricing. Basic printing services are state of the art with similar costs to libraries and direct competition as Office Depot.
The Staples web app for uploading documents is pretty easy to use, and you can receive your prints within hours of submitting them.
Print Online Stores
If you’re in no hurry to pick up your prints, online print shops can be pretty cheap. As mentioned earlier, several companies, including Office Depot and FedEx, ship your documents if you’re not in the vicinity of a physical location. However, it’s also worth mentioning that online print shops may have lower prices or free shipping.
There is no shortage of easy-to-use online printing companies that you can find through Google. However, keep in mind that most online print stores are for large projects that can’t handle office stores or your local library.
If you need 500 copies of a specific document, purchasing through an online printer may be suitable. You will pay real dollars, but each copy will only cost you a couple of cents because you buy in bulk. If you want to buy one copy of something, you can find a different font.
Pharmacies worldwide offer one-hour photo solutions, and you may not be aware that those same stores may offer document printing. If you are looking for a place to print your documents quickly, you can visit your local pharmacy and see if they have printing solutions to suit your needs.
If you don’t live near your family or local pharmacy, national pharmacies can help. CVS is one of the largest pharmacy chains in the US, offering copy and print services in over 3,400 stores nationwide.
To copy or print documents in CVS, go to your local store and look for a Kodak kiosk. You will need to take a USB drive with your document with you. Plug your flash drive into the Kodak kiosk, choose to print a document, and enter your color and whether you want single-sided or double-sided printing. Since everything is made in-store, you don’t have to worry about picking up documents at the right time.
Disadvantages of Printing in CVs
Of course, CVS printing has its drawbacks. First, CVS can’t tell if a store has photo-only or photo and document printing, so call the local CVS to ensure you’re ready to print your documents at the right location. Secondly, you will need a flash drive to print your files, which may not be available to everyone.
Finally, the prices at CVS are a bit high compared to competitors. We found that the cost was 19 cents per page for black and white copies and 38 cents per page for black and white copies. Prices for color printing were the highest: 99 cents for single-sided color printing and $1.98 for double-sided printing. Check with your local CVS store for current costs, as prices vary by region. It’s expensive, but if you need to print something quickly and live near a CVS that offers document printing services, this may be your closest and fastest option.
PrintSpots Online Directory
Travelers are especially advised by PrintSpots, a directory of state print shops that offer a convenient booking option. Mostly hotel and library listings, but the site is also useful if you don’t know the area or don’t have time to visit several hotels. All the details are on one page.
Not all of the ideas on this list are suitable for everyone. If you don’t have an office supply store near you or a pharmacy that doesn’t offer document printing, these options may not work. Online printers are also time-consuming, and if you need something the same day, this idea fails.
After all, of course, one or two options on this list that are not available don’t mean you can’t access one of the others. The ideal solution is to use your local library, where prices tend to be fair, and printing can be completed quickly and in real-time. Most libraries have access to printers for residents of your city, which means you’ll never find yourself in a situation where printing isn’t possible. If you live in the suburbs or metro, you may not have a library nearby. So, looking for a delivery store like a UPS store, an office supply store like Office Depot, or even a pharmacy or pharmacy like CVS will make it easy to print your document.