While know what AirPrint does, I am confused about what it is. It claims to be a bunch of technology standards used together such as mDNS, IPP and multicasting. However, the term Bonjour is also thrown around as well, which also appears to be based on the same technologies. What makes it even more confusing is that Bonjour is just a rebrand of Rendezvous.

Is AirPrint a rebrand of Bonjour, the same way Bonjour is a rebrand of Rendezvous, or is AirPrint distinct from Bonjour?


2 Answers 2


AirPrint is the full protocol that allows a device to discover a printer and send a PDF over to it which is then printed.

Bonjour is the protocol that allows devices to discover each other and chat. AirPrint uses Bonjour.

A very rough and incorrect analogy is that AirPrint is to Bonjour, what an Internet Browser is to the Network connection.

Note: As PDF fully describes the pages to print, a traditional printer driver is not needed on the device.

  • Thanks. So Bonjour is just Apple branding for zeroconfig, a general protocol for device discovery, while AirPrint builds upon to support printing on wireless devices.
    – ATL_DEV
    Oct 4, 2020 at 20:31
  • My laserprinter uses Postscript internally. So if it were AirPrint enabled, it would be sent a pdf, which is based on Postscript. Seems like PDF is a very format to send to printers, especially ones that don't have postscript.
    – ATL_DEV
    Oct 4, 2020 at 20:34
  • @ATL_DEV Postscript is a general programming language that happens to be able to create printed output. PDF is a subset of Postscript just for describing pages. Oct 4, 2020 at 21:21
  • @ATL_DEV The printer will probably have a PDF-renderer built in regardless of what else it has. I bought a tiny, used HP laser printer way back. A firmware upgrade added AirPrint, and it had only PCL. Oct 5, 2020 at 8:39
  • Does this mean AirPrint is not really based on open standards if it requires some PDF and or PostScript processing? It's interesting how Apple and Adobe got back into bed together after their battles over TrueType and Flash.
    – ATL_DEV
    Oct 5, 2020 at 11:35

First Rendezvous = Bonjour = unicast DNS

I forget why the name changed from Rendezvous, something about what Apple (used to) call it and what everyone else called it. It’s a server less DNS solution so devices can query locally, self-assemble, and discover services without needing a pre-configured DNS server / database.

AirPrint is a standard Wireless Printing protocol so that diverse printers all look like a standard printer, eliminating the need for specific drivers for specific printers. In the same way that LPR (Line Printer Protocol)is a printing protocol as well as IPP (Internet Printing Protocol). Here’s some Apple support / marketing information:

Per wikipedia: "AirPrint is based on mDNS (Bonjour, more specifically) and Internet Printing Protocol (IPP)."(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_printing_protocols#Wireless_protocols)

  • Yes, I figured that out, but how is AirPrint different from Bonjour?
    – ATL_DEV
    Oct 3, 2020 at 23:22
  • 1
    @ATL_DEV AirPrint is the protocol used to send data to a printer discovered via Bonjour
    – bmike
    Oct 3, 2020 at 23:43
  • There is also ZeroConf that is what everybody else calls Bonjour. Oct 4, 2020 at 20:11
  • Jeez, I haven't heard that word in years Oct 4, 2020 at 22:13
  • It appears that the Windows juggernaut meant that the world heads for uPNP instead of Zeroconf. Oct 6, 2020 at 11:09

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