Tip: Print from Chrome OS and Android

Posted on February 16, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile with 30 Comments

Tip: Print from Chrome OS and Android

Those introducing non-Microsoft devices into their workflows may be worried about losing familiar functionality. Here’s a good example: Can you print to an existing printer from a Chromebook? How about from an Android phone?

In this week’s We Help Wednesday episode of the First Ring Daily podcast, one of the questions we received was about printing from a Chromebook.

A friend of mine asked me to help them pick out a new laptop. They said the really only need it to use the web and occasionally print things. So they said the wanted a cheap Windows laptop, or maybe a Chromebook. How compatible is a Chromebook with printers?

Off the top of my head, I observed that I do print to my network-attached printer from a Chromebook—could, in fact, do so from Android as well—but couldn’t remember the details off the top of my head. So I said I’d look at this again and write it up.

Let’s do this thing.

We have two printers in our home, a network-attached Dell 3130CN laser printer in my office, and a PC-connected HP OfficeJet All-in-One something in my wife’s office. I use the former.

When you try to print from a Chromebook for the first time, the default choice is “Save as PDF,” but Google also provides a “Save to Google Drive” option. Both of these stretch the boundaries of what I’d call “printing” but whatever. You can of course add a printer as well. It’s just not that obvious.

You do so using a system called Google Cloud Print. This system supports Cloud Print Ready printers—there’s a compatibility list—natively, but you can also connect to any printer as well. My network-attached printer is not on the list, so I attach it as a classic printer.

To do so—and this is where things get weird—you have to set it up first from a Windows PC (or Mac) that is running Chrome. So open up Chrome on your PC and type chrome://devices/ in the address bar, and press Enter. The Devices page appears.

Click the Add printers button to add one or more local printers to Google Cloud Print, thus associating them with your Google account.

In my case, the only one I want to add is the Dell, so I unchecked the other choices. Then click Add printer(s). When you do, you’re told that your printers are now registered with Google Cloud Print and you’re ready to go.

And you are: If you go back to the Chromebook and navigate to that same Devices page in the browser (chrome://devices/), you will see that your printer has been added successfully.

Likewise, when you try to print from a web app—Google Docs, Word Online, whatever—that printer is now available.

And it works as you’d expect. (Note that your PC must be powered on in order to print.)

What’s neat about this functionality is that it’s tied to your Google account. This means that any printers you add to Google Cloud Print like this will be available from other Google devices too … including Android phones and tablets. So once you’ve set up a printer this way, you can print from your phone if you want to.

Pretty cool.

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Comments (32)

32 responses to “Tip: Print from Chrome OS and Android”

  1. Avatar

    8578

    I think the title should be "Tip: Print from Chrome OS and Android to Networked Printer". 

    • Avatar

      5664

      In reply to skane2600:

      I think the title should be "Fun and Profit through Printing with Chrome and Android: A Layman's First Guide by Golden Books"

      :D

      Not that there's anything wrong with yours. I'm just being silly. 

    • Avatar

      5592

      In reply to skane2600:

      No, it really should be

      "Tip: Print from Chrome OS and Android Through Google Servers and Your Existing Windows PC to Your Local Printers"

      since you can't print without Google Cloud Print and without using your existing local Windows PC as a Print Server.

      • Avatar

        hometoy

        In reply to MikeGalos:

        My HP OfficeJet Pro 8600 Plus doesn't have any PCs connected to it and it is always available for my daughter's chromebook or my Chrome browser from anywhere (home, work, library, etc.)

      • Avatar

        PeteB

        In reply to MikeGalos:

        FUD. You don't need Google Cloud Print or a local Windows PC. I print directly to my WiFi printer multiple times per day, have been doing it for years.

      • Avatar

        Waethorn

        In reply to MikeGalos:

        Not true ONE BIT. See my comment in the Premium section.

        • Avatar

          xxxdevxxx

          In reply to Waethorn:

          I guess this applys only to network printers. In this case Google might use all Windows drivers in the Google cloud for device specific communication and sends it to the Chrome browser. Then, the Chrome browser will open a TCP connection and sends everything to the printer.

          But I doubt that there is a way to plug a non network printer to a Chromebook via USB. Because this would require a driver.

          Anyway, sending every confidential document to the Google cloud is a no way. Because this way you have zero control over your data.

  2. Avatar

    hometoy

    I set up my HP OfficeJet Pro 8600 Plus to cloud print.  Not only does it work for my daughter's Chromebook, it works for my Chrome browser. 


    And it doesn't matter from where I am when I print to the cloud printer... so I can be at work and during my lunch break, print off some forms and stuff to the printer and they are ready when I get home.



  3. Avatar

    Darmok N Jalad

    Maybe there needs to be an article about how frustrating Windows' ancient print spooler can be. About 3 years ago, I bit the bullet and spend decent money on a dedicated inkjet, the HP Officejet Pro 8100. Not on did it support wireless printing, but it actually had an RT driver for the Surface 2 that I owned at the time. It has been a very good purchase, as it has been mechanically reliable, and we have been able to wirelessly and independently print to it from all sorts of devices, be it iOS, Android, MacOS, or Linux (the only thing I've not tried is Chromebook). Ironically, it's our Windows 10 machine that struggles the most with wireless printing. It frequently thinks the printer is offline, even though the printer will accept jobs from every other device in the house at that very moment. No amount of troubleshooting resolves it, so we resorted to the traditional wired connection because it had gotten so frustrating. Everything dies in the print queue, and because the jobs refuse to cancel from the printer's queue window, I have to manually shut down the print service and delete the stalled jobs from Windows Explorer. Even a reboot won't clear them.

  4. Avatar

    Jeff Jones

    Are there any good print servers with Google Cloud print built in? Seems like this should be an easy thing to add to a regular print server.

  5. Avatar

    martinp17

    I noticed that it turns printouts into PDF files first, what if I want to print to my label printer or simple Epson receipt printer?

  6. Avatar

    wshwe

    Reading this article and the posted comments make my head spin. I'd rather just print from Windows. I don't have any animosity towards Chromebooks. I just prefer Windows.

    • Avatar

      Waethorn

      In reply to wshwe:

      Network printers have lots of different protocols. Chromebooks, like Windows, support *some* of those protocols natively, or have drivers built-in, and the rest of the support is up to what the printer manufacturer is willing to provide.

  7. Avatar

    TroyTruax

    I have an Epson network printer. Installing the Epson Print Enabler app from the store is the equivalent of installing a printer driver on my Nexus. Now I can print normally from Word right to my printer.

  8. Avatar

    Waethorn

    Just FYI: Using the Cloud Print Connector requires that you be signed-in to the computer and Chrome.


    If you want to use the Cloud Print Connector as a background service which doesn't require the computer be logged in (great for a print server), you can use this instead:


    https://tools.google.com/dlpage/cloudprintservice


    You will still need Google Chrome installed on the host machine to configure the printer through the service, and connect the background service to your Google Account. If you want a silent-install, deployable MSI version of Google Chrome for Windows, you can get a copy here:


    http://enterprise.google.com/chrome/chrome-browser


    FYI: You can configure this version of Google Chrome to be deployed through the Desktop App Converter as a "UWP" app. I have not tried the Cloud Print Services with it though, but I imagine the sandboxing will pose some problems with the connection to Chrome.

  9. Avatar

    5530

    I don't find this to be an acceptable solution to printing on chrome os/android, you still need to turn on your windows computer that is connected to the printer to actually print anything - the print jobs are still sent to the printer from Windows, an inelegant solution. Unless you have a network printer that is directly connected to your network.

  10. Avatar

    Waethorn

    There are these additional options for Chrome OS devices:


    If you have an HP printer, you can use the HP Print for Chrome app. HP printers are pretty good with compatibility, even if older models don't support Cloud Print. Many direct-USB printers support this method too, which is unusual for Chrome OS.


    If you have a network printer connected to a Unix/Linux CUPS server, or one that supports Internet Print Protocol, you can also use one of a few different apps from directprint.io that support them.


    There are additional apps for Ricoh printers, and Xerox has a web app called "Xerox Mobile Print Portal" that supports not just their brands, but several brands of non-Cloud Print network printers.


    A lot of Android devices will see network printers without needing Cloud Print support too. Google is adding in local printer network discovery without the need for Cloud Print enablement in an upcoming Chrome OS release. Cloud Print is used for local network discovery (like Bonjour for Mac's), but the Internet printing support is what people often think of it as. Cloud Print guarantees that network printers are discoverable on Chrome OS within the local network. If a printer has a built-in print server, Chrome OS will *sometimes* detect it, but it's not guaranteed.

  11. Avatar

    PeteB

    Well ofcourse.. Ive been printing from Android for years..


    Next Paul is going to discover you can plug a keyboard and mouse into Android - and it "just works"! Lol, I kid, I kid.


  12. Avatar

    217

    Funny story. Years ago when Cloud Print was first introduced, I set it up on my (personal) account using a work network printer. Alerts were sent out throughout the company that a hacker penetrated our network, thus forcing them to go to DEFCON 1. I didn't even think of it until a network admin was in our area when my document printed out of the printer (back then the delay was long). Apparently at the time it was using a port my company never allowed (? - not a networking guy so I have no idea). Two months later Chrome was abolished from personal use. Good times :)

  13. Avatar

    MEH

    I have an Acus Chromebox-M004U Deluxe with Chrome OS platform.

    It has been a night mare trying to find a compatible wireless printer. I purchased a Canon IX6820 because it's Cloud print enabled and it's connected to my network. I no longer have all the original packaging so I am stuck with it.

    Any help would be appreciated.

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