Describes ShipStation's printing terminology, lists popular printers used with ShipStation, types of labels, and ShipStation's printing process.
Printing labels is, undeniably, the most important reason you use ShipStation! Configuring ShipStation to print to a specific printer on a specific workstation requires your printer hardware, printer software, and ShipStation to all work together.
The articles in the Set Up Printers & Scales section discuss the steps necessary to set up these devices to work correctly with ShipStation on both Windows and MacOS workstations. These articles explain how to:
Connect the printer and install the correct drivers, when necessary.
Below, you'll find some helpful printing basics to know before you start to use ShipStation. This useful information includes printing terminology, supported printers, recommended labels, and how the printing process works in general.
The following terminology used in this section is defined below for your convenience.
The term printer workstation in this guide specifically refers to the computer your printers are connected to via USB. Your printer workstation may be the same computer you use to access ShipStation, a computer that is dedicated only to printing labels in your warehouse, or a multi-use computer.
You may also have more than one printer workstation. Whether you have one or multiple, ShipStation Connect should be installed and running on the printer workstations.
Your label printer is whatever printer you use to print your labels. This could be a thermal label printer like a Zebra or DYMO, or it could be a standard desktop printer like an inkjet or laser printer. Your label printer may or may not be used to print labels exclusively.
Thermal Label Printer
A thermal label printer is a printer specifically designed to print labels onto specially designed paper that is typically self-adhesive. These printers use thermal transfer instead of ink or other methods, greatly increasing their speed and reducing your material cost over time.
The term Standard Printer simply refers to desktop style printers like inkjet or laser printers. These printers print standard letter size (8.5" x 11") or A4 size paper. You may use a standard printer to print labels on plain paper, or special integrated label paper. Or you may use standard printers only for other document types, like packing slips, pick lists, and customs forms.
Drivers are how your operating systems (Windows or MacOS) communicate data to your connected printer hardware. Some printers will require you to install specific drivers before you can print, some printers won't. The articles included in this section will help guide you through the options available, and link to specific drivers when possible.
This term refers specifically to the options available for different document types in ShipStation. These settings include label format, print sequence, label messages and logo, and others.
To view and set document options, go to
Settings > Printing > Printing Setup and click Document Options next to the document type you wish to modify.
Printer Preferences or Properties
These terms refer to the printer settings that you set in either the Windows Control Panel or the MacOS System Preferences. Preferences and Properties are where you set options like paper size, darkness, dpi, and print speed. These settings are independent of the settings within ShipStation.
CUPS stands for Common Unix Printing System and is how you access and modify printing preferences in the MacOS. The articles included in this section provide details on how to access CUPS and modify printer preferences there.
ShipStation Connect is the app that routes print jobs from your ShipStation account to the printers connected to your printer workstation. ShipStation Connect allows you to print to any Connect enabled workstation from any computer or mobile device you use to access ShipStation. It also allows you to share the printers from your printer workstations with all users on your account.
ShipStation is compatible with thermal label printers that will print 4" x 6" labels, as well as standard desktop printers.
Certain printers and configurations are not currently supported when printing via ShipStation Connect:
Rollo label printers not currently supported.
Wireless and network printers not currently supported. Printers should be connected to the printer workstation(s) via USB, though some wireless or network printers may work.
ShipStation Support cannot troubleshoot issues that occur when using these printers with ShipStation Connect.
These limitations are specific to printing with ShipStation Connect. You may still print using the PDF or View in Browser method to print documents to these printers from your ShipStation account. The label layout, printer preferences, and document options still apply regardless of your print method.
Common thermal label printers we've found to work well with ShipStation include DYMO, Zebra, and Brother label printers.
Each offers different advantages, and while any supported USB model that prints 4"x6" (approx. 101mm x 152mm) labels will work with ShipStation, it's important to find the best option for your business needs.
The DYMO LabelWriter 4XL printer is an economical printer with a simple setup process. DYMOs self-calibrate, but do require DYMO-approved label rolls, otherwise they will not print properly.
Zebra is arguably the leader in label printing, and they provide many models to suit different business needs.
While Zebra printers have a more involved setup process and carry a slightly higher price tag than some other thermal label printer options, they more than makeup for it in a high level of customization and powerful, precise printing. Zebra printers also support both fanfold and rolled labels.
The Brother QL-1100 is a new model thermal label printer with a fast print speed and high dpi.
Currently, this model is only supported on Windows when used with ShipStation. We will update this information when support for MacOS is available.
The Citizen CL-E303 is small, fully featured, and compatible with MacOS and Windows/PC.
Thermal printers are worth the investment, especially as your volume increases since thermal printers do not require ink.
Check out our blog post for a more in-depth comparison of three of these brands!
ShipStation prints 4" x 6" labels. If you are using a thermal label printer, be sure to purchase the 4" x 6" labels supported by your model thermal printer.
If you print using a standard desktop printer, you can print the labels using plain paper. However, you also have options for self-adhesive labels and integrated labels.
Use Avery Half Sheet Self-Adhesive shipping labels or similar to print two labels per letter- or A4-sized sheet. Set your label document options to the 8.5" x 11" (2 per page) option.
Use All-in-One Shipping Labels from Burris Computer Forms to print a label and its corresponding packing slip on the same sheet. The label can be peeled off and attached to the package, and the packing slip included inside the box.
You can print from ShipStation in two ways: Using ShipStation Connect or using a PDF viewer.
The most efficient way to print is with ShipStation Connect. This requires ShipStation Connect to be installed and running on the printer workstation (the computer your printer is directly connected to).
When you tell ShipStation to print, ShipStation sends the document from ShipStation's database through the cloud to ShipStation Connect on the printer workstation, which passes it on to the printer driver, which in turn passes it on to the printer hardware.
This entire process happens behind the scenes when you click print and takes only a few moments. ShipStation Connect also allows you to share the workstation printers with any other user on your ShipStation account.
Sharing printers allows other users to print to that workstation from wherever they are signed in from, whether that's from a warehouse, an office, or a remote location in another state. As long as your printer workstation is awake and Connect is running, ShipStation can pass documents to your printer workstation via ShipStation Connect.
Alternately, you can download and print your documents using a PDF viewer like Acrobat or Preview. In this instance, the printing process happens outside of ShipStation, and ShipStation Connect is not involved.
While printing using the PDF method is not as versatile or efficient as using ShipStation Connect, it's useful to have a backup print method should you need it, and it's a good troubleshooting step to help identify where in the printing process an issue may be.