Problem printing from Chromebooks at school


The schools in the district have always offered tax preparation help for low income families. People volunteer to prepare the taxes and then they print them off and mail it for the families. During the last hardware refresh, a few of the elementary schools got rid of the Windows computer labs. The teachers and staff all have Windows laptops still though. They canceled it this year with the reason that they can’t print off the returns since they can’t print off the Chromebooks.

I understand that the printers they have maybe older, but I thought there was a way to print from a Chromebook that was on the same network as a printer attached to a Windows computer? I’ve done this with a Chromebook before, but I think I had to be signed into Chrome on both devices for it to work? I can see why that would be a problem here but still seems like there should be a way for this to work. 

Comments (20)

20 responses to “Problem printing from Chromebooks at school”

  1. skane2600

    Printing from a Chromebook is always a hit or miss affair. It's definitely the biggest limitation they have. Since allowing Android apps to run has burst the "everything is done on the web" principle, Chromebooks need to support conventional printer drivers if they are going to go mainstream.

  2. waethorn

    Chrome OS has a full CUPS implementation. Most printers supported by CUPS do so without additional drivers, otherwise, you can use a PPD driver. Aside from that, you have support for Google Cloud Print as the de facto method from Google. And then some printers have support for Chrome extensions or Android apps (only for Android app support), like HP printers, which are supported via HP Print for Chrome.

    You can also set up a Windows PC as a Google Cloud Print server by setting up the printer on it normally in Windows, and then using the Google Cloud Print Connector in "service mode". The instructions for all of this are on Google's website. Whoever is responsible for setting up the network should know this already. If they don't, they need to have their head examined.

    • skane2600

      In reply to Waethorn:

      Printer support for CUPS is spotty and as I said months ago, requiring Windows to print from a Chromebook is a fail. The only reliable way to print from a Chromebook is to buy a printer that advertises its support of Cloud Print. As I also said, since Google now supports non-cloud functionality (e.g. Android apps) there's no reason they can't provide conventional printer support.

    • Sprtfan

      In reply to Waethorn:

      Just to double check, the Windows PC can be set up as a Google Cloud Print server and they should be able to print from a Chromebook even if they are not both signed into the same Google account? Also, even if the printer is pretty old, they should probably be able to a PPD driver and print directly from the Chromebook?

      I'm not really sure what the district has set up for IT support. I know that most of the buildings at least don't have anybody onsite. It was not set up for them to be able to print, but the staff might have never asked why they couldn't. Thanks for this info

  3. Lauren Glenn

    One thing I'd use (which I imagine a Chromebook would support) is a Synology NAS. WIth that, you can hook up Google Print and get it to work with any printer by using Google Print on a Chromebook. I used to use it on my laptop and it was very good.

    I think it was a 118j ..... very simple solution and since it's a Linux variant, it probably has support for many old printers. I don't know if you can map multiple accounts to it though.... but I do remember Google Print was an option. It may even let you print outside of that too.

  4. Patrick3D

    As a workaround just use Google Drive to sync the tax returns to any computer on Earth with a printer. If the Chromebooks are not allowed to connect to the Internet then just walk Chromebooks to a printer with a USB cable, plug it in and print away. Sounds like no one even bothered to try to find a solution.

  5. Bats

    The easiest way is to convert the printer from wired to wireless. Being on the same network , the Chromebook should be able to pick up that printer and print to it. I believe another option is to through Google Cloud Print, however I don't know if they have that available via GSuite. I assume they do. The next option is to use a WiFi ready printer.

    The solution of attaching a printer to a Windows Computer is old. Very old.

  6. VancouverNinja

    Off topic...anyone notice Chrome OS Usage / Market share has crashed; in all reports I can find it is now under 1%. While we all know this is a dead platform for consumers I had not expected to see it plunge like this with the K-5 segment. Anyone know whats going on? It is getting move out by Windows entry level systems? Apple?

  7. jblank46

    Most newer printers are coming with this support built in. I think one of the computers has to configure the printer on the network in their google account, then the other chromebooks need to log into that same google account in Chrome to see that printer as an option and I believe that would work?

    A lot of schools, however, use print management solutions that sometimes supports AirPrint and Google Cloud Print. At work, we use PaperCut as an all purpose print queue for print management. We also use EveryonePrint which specifically broadcasts AirPrint and Google Cloud Print queues for our iOS and Chromebook users. Once those users print like they normally would on their respective platforms, those jobs get dumped into the PaperCut queue and users can release like normal at our copiers. I think PaperCut now supports AirPrint and Google Cloud Print ie Chromebooks directly which would eliminate the need for EveryonePrint but we haven't looked into it yet.

  8. hrlngrv

    I've never tried printing from my Chromebook. Printing to PDF then e-mailing PDF files has been sufficient for everything I need. However, Google provides instructions for printing directly from Chromebook to printer here.

    • Sprtfan

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      I tried it at home with a chromebook and a network printer and couldn't get it to work. My printer is a little older though and I'm guessing that there is not a driver for the chromebook? I can get it to print by going through a Windows PC but then I have to be logged in under the same Google account on both.

    • skane2600

      In reply to hrlngrv:

      That page describes how to connect over wifi (if you know it's IP address etc), but doesn't really describe the steps to connect a printer via USB.

  9. lordbaal1

    Chromebooks have USB. So you should be able to plug in the USB to the Chromebook, and it should just work.

    I know that's not what Google wants, but that's how it should be.

    • skane2600

      In reply to lordbaal1:

      Yes, that's how it should have been designed to work at a minimum with local network printing a desirable enhancement. Silly to have to send print data to the cloud just to print in the next room.

  10. dcdevito

    "I thought there was a way to print from a Chromebook that was on the same network as a printer attached to a Windows computer?"

    There is, it's Google Print Classic Mode (or something like that). You set it up once from Chrome on a Windows computer and you're good to go, but it does need to be connected to the Windows computer when the print job is sent. Also, I've had instances where I needed to clear the print queue as old jobs fudged it up.

  11. jimchamplin

    The best solution is to hack the holy living fuck out of Chrome OS and use Linux software. That way one can use CUPS to print. I don't actually suggest doing this because it's pretty stupid.

    And little known trivia: Cups are a great loss-leader at garage sales. If you have some crap you wanna get rid of, and a lot of extra cups, just offer to throw in some cups with the worn out shit someone is on the fence about buying for a ten spot.

    Who can resist some cups?