Hacktivator removes Apple AirPrint block

AirPrint Hacktivator unlocks some of the iDevice printing functionality we all expected from iOS4.2, but it's far from complete, and in no way perfect.

The tiny application, which uses files included in a previous developer version of OS X 10.5.6 as far as we can tell, allows some USB-connected printers to talk to iPhones, and iPads with mixed results.

You'll find a download link and simple-to-follow instructions here, but the most complicated thing you'll have to do is delete and re-install your printers using the Print & Fax control panel and reactivate printer sharing.

Netputing, which released the hack earlier today, says: "No Apple files are redistributed nor installed by the latest version. A backup of the original file is done prior to adding the necessary line to allow for easily reverting the hack."

You'll need a Mac running the latest OS X 10.5.6, an iDevice running iOS4.2, and administrator privileges to make it work, and even then it's a wee bit hit and miss.

For example, our Canon iX4000 works perfectly, but our iPhone 4 failed to find an HP Photosmart C3100 connected to the same network via a different Mac.

It's not a substitute for the functionality promised by Steve Jobs in a recent keynote, and then yanked without explanation at the last minute, but it's a free-and-simple workaround if your printer happens to be recognised, and with our current success rate it looks like the chances are 50/50.

Be warned though. Despite the claims of the non-invasive nature of the hack, Apple probably had a very good reason for hobbling AirPrint with all but a very short list of HP printers so you should use this at your peril.

If you do take the plunge, drop us a line in the comments below and tell us if your printer works.