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I was recently hired as an IT supporter on a school for kids with autism and other development issues. They utilize iPads and I have no experience with Apple products.

Now, today a teacher came to me asking if I could block access to the printers from the kids iPads. They are printing some rather unfortunate things, and from a brief googling, I couldn't seem to find any option to do so, apart from setting up a seperate network (not a possibility (the teachers use iPads as well, and they need to be able to print. All tablets are connected to the same network.))

Is there a way to do it from the iPad, or do I have to setup passwords on the printers?

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You have multiple ways of blocking the kids from accessing the printers:

Depending on the make and model of the printer, you could setup authentication on the printer. This way users will have to enter the username and password for the printer the first time they AirPrint something. This has to be done on the printer.

Depending on the make and model of your network equipment, you can set up a seperate network for the kids's iPads that is not allowed to AirPrint (i.e. has no network access to the printers). Even though the teachers are also using iPads, this can work, as you would still have the ordinary WIFi where the teacher's iPad can connect to access the printers.

Finally, as you indicate you prefer a solution where the restriction is done from the iPad, you can change the setup of the kids' iPads so that they're not allowed to AirPrint at all.

This can be done from a MDM setup, if you have one already. You can then specifically select a number of iPads, and then restrict access to AirPrint.

If you haven't got MDM, you can install "Apple Configurator 2" (free download from the App Store) on a Mac, and connect each iPad to set them up as supervised and block access to AirPrint. Note that usually iPads will be wiped when adding them as supervised devices.

You can find the user guide for "Apple Configurator 2" here:

https://support.apple.com/en-gb/guide/apple-configurator-2/welcome/mac

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  • The MDM solution might actually be a good one. The thing is, some of the kids can handle having printing permits, while some cannot. So being able to individually block some of the devices might be the way forward. The municipality, does however already run some sort of MDM on all the iPads, so I may have to get in contact with them. Which kind of annoys me, cause I was hoping to fix this in-house. Thanks for the input though. – qiTsuk Mar 5 '20 at 7:42
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There's a much easier way to handle this...use a "Print Portal" like SavaPage (FOSS). There are other excellent commercial products (Xerox makes one) that will get the job done (with a cost of course)

The issues that you have is a diverse set of printers, users and permissions. You could go through the trouble of setting up individual printers and permissions for each user and device, or you could have a centralized repository for your printing needs.

  • Print to pool, not to a printer. You might have several printers of different makes/models, but instead of setting up each one individually, you print to the pool where all the configuration is already done. The server software handles the drivers for you.
  • Pull to Print. This is one of my favorite features. Instead of users printing and forgetting their print job in which they then reprint it (probably many times over) the user will send the job to the server (pool) where it "waits" for the user to request it from the printer. We used key fobs with a compliment of Xerox printers located around the school. When the teacher was ready to print, they went to the closest printer, authenticated with a key fob and selected their job. It cut down on waste by 87% (I won a "going green award for it).
  • Authentication. This will solve your "who is authorized to print problem." We used existing Active Directory Credentials along with the key fob that allowed users to print or not to print. Unauthorized attempts were logged and emails sent to division directors/teachers

  • Accounting This is probably overkill for what you need, but the feature is there. With this type of software you can assign costs (i.e. $0.0045 per B&W page, $0.02 per color) or raw number of pages (i.e. 1000 double sided pages). Along with charging back departments for their printing needs, we could also allow students to print by having a "printing account" that would get debited as they used it.

Windows Server had rudimentary printer pooling built in and it worked really well - it might be something you want to look at. However, approaching this from a Printer Portal perspective gives you the flexibility to use printers that don't support AirPrint, don't have the authentication built in or has whatever idiosyncrasies that make setting them up difficult.

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