Saturday, January 10, 2015

How to use Google Cloud Print to print from an Android device to a connected printer

Mobile computing devices are becoming more and more prevalent every day, and they are increasingly being used to fulfill functions that were previously only performed by computers. One function that is becoming more common for mobile devices is printing, but printing from a mobile device is foreign to many users, and it can be tricky. If you have an Android phone or tablet, you can set up mobile printing through Google Cloud Print relatively quickly, and once you have the device set up, printing from it is a piece of cake.

The first part of setting up your printer for mobile printing requires being at a computer. The computer you use must be connected to the printer and connected to the Internet, and it must have the Google Chrome web browser installed on it. (If you don't have Chrome installed, you can download it from the Chrome download page.) Once you have mobile printing set up, this computer will need to be left on any time you want to print from your Android device.

To begin mobile printing setup, open Chrome and click on the Menu button (the one with the three horizontal lines) in the upper right corner. On the menu that appears, select "Sign in to Chrome..." A new tab will load, asking for your Google email and password. Enter this information and then click the blue "Sign in" button. (If you don't already have a Google/GMail account, you'll have to sign up for one first.)

After you've signed in to Chrome, click on the Menu button again and go to Settings. On the Settings page, type "print" into the search bar, and "Google Cloud Print" will be displayed in the results. Click on the "Add printers" button beneath the Google Cloud Print heading. A list of printers that you can add will be displayed, and each printer will already be checked. Uncheck the printers you don't want to add, so that only the printer or printers you want to use with Google Cloud Print are selected. You can also remove the check next to the "Automatically register new printers I connect" setting if you wish. Once you have selected the printer or printers you want to add, click the "Add printer(s)" button at the bottom of the list.

The first part of cloud printing setup is now complete. To finish the setup, you'll need to download Google Cloud Print onto your Android phone or tablet. On your Android device, open the Google Play Store app (or open your browser and navigate to the Google Play Store).  Search for "Cloud Print" and when that app appears in the results, select it. Make sure you are selecting the Cloud Print app by Google and not one with the same name from another company. When the app's page loads, tap the Install link toward the top of the screen. A list of permissions that the app needs will be displayed; tap the Accept button at the bottom of the list and Google Cloud Print will install.

Once the app has finished installing, you are all set up and ready to print. To test printing, open Google Cloud Print from your list of apps or from the shortcut on your home screen (if it placed one there). Tap the printer icon in the top right part of the screen and select a file to print. Once you have selected a file, a list of printers will be displayed, but if you've only added the one printer, that will be the only one shown. (Any time you add more printers to your Google Chrome account, they will be displayed here.) A link to save your file to Google Docs will also be shown.

Select your printer from the list. A preview screen will appear, where you can change some printer settings, such as resolution, paper size, and duplex options, as well as choose the number of copies you want to print. These options are very limited compared to a "true" print driver, but they do allow you some flexibility. Once you have chosen the settings you want, tap the print arrow icon in the upper right corner (the one that looks like a paper airplane) and your job will be sent to the printer.

You can now print to that printer any time, from anywhere, provided the printer and computer are both on, both connected to each other, and the computer is connected to the Internet. If you ever open up Google Cloud Print and your printer is grayed out, it means the printer is either offline or inaccessible.

(Originally published on, October 2013)

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