How do you Print with a Chromebook?
Rather than connecting to a printer with the usual assortment of physical wires, the Chromebook can print “over the air” using Google’s revolutionary Cloud Print service. Cloud Print is essentially a name for the built-in wireless printing feature that comes built into Chromebooks.
It’s almost criminally easy to print from your Chromebook using Cloud Print. All you have to do is hit Ctrl + P, and a dialog window will slide in. Select any options, or just continue with the current default settings, and the currently-open page will be printed. Simple enough, right? In addition, many Chrome apps will have a recognizable “Print using Google Cloud Print” icon. Clicking on this button will accomplish the same thing.
With there still being many uses for good, old fashioned paper, printing is still a very important aspect of cloud computing. One might think there’s no way to improve the printing process using “the cloud,” since the process involves, well, physical paper. Contrarily, Google developed the Cloud Print feature to improve the printing experience and really bring it into 2012; no apocalypse necessary.
As an added benefit of the cloud, Cloud Print-enabled printers can update their drivers and printer firmware without requiring you to keep up on it (or worry about installing the latest fixes and security updates). They will automatically download and keep their firmware current, very much like a Chromebook itself.
Documents that are sent to be printer using Cloud Print are transferred over a secure, encrypted web connection — the same kind that is used to protect sensitive information like credit card numbers and so on. Most importantly, documents printed using Cloud Print are not stored after they are printed (other than in the original place they were saved, if applicable, of course).
Further, you can easily share your printer temporarily if the need arises. Say, for example, a friend comes over and needs to print something from their Chromebook, or any laptop. It just takes a few clicks in Chrome to make the printer visible and available for your friend’s computer. Right from your Chrome dashboard, you can manage printing “rights” and give, modify, or take away printing capability for other users any time you want. You can also track print jobs from multiple users, whether it’s a few or many. The management and print job tracking capabilities of Cloud Print makes the service ideal for companies, organizations, and other enterprise-level usage, and are ideally suited for organizations that use Chromebooks on a large scale.
Naturally, since Cloud Print works over the world wide web, you can print whether you’re in the same room or on a trip across the globe. Start the printing process at home while you’re still at work, or vice versa. Print event tickets from your Chromebook while you’re still in bed. Print one of those weird folding paper box things on your home office printer — from the office, from an Einstein Bros. Bagels in Ypsilanti, Michigan — or from a Starbucks in Kazahkstan! Think of the possibilities — especially if you have a 3G Chromebook.
Selecting a Cloud Print-Ready Printer
Many printers today come ready to be used with Google Cloud Print straight out of the box. Some of the best available “Cloud ready” printers come from the most experienced printer companies like Kodak, HP, and Epson. The process of connecting one of these Cloud Print-ready printers to your Google account is so straightforward and simple, that it probably does not need much explanation — the best instructions will come from the individual manufacturer of your printer and will be made obvious in the documentation or quick-start guide when you open the box.
Coming soon, we will have a full list of the best Cloud Print ready printers for your perusal. In the meantime, here are two of our current favorite printers that is especially easy to set up with your Chromebook:
- The HP Photosmart 6510 All-in-One Printer ($110) is Chromebook-compatible / Cloud Print ready, has great reviews, and provides a host of all-in-one features and great performance for a low price.
- The Epson Stylus NX430 Color Inkjet Wireless Small-in-One (C11CB22201) ($90) is another Chromebook-ready all-in-one printer in a smaller package.
Either of the options above would make an ideal choice for using Cloud Print with your Chromebook. Because they are designed to be used wirelessly, you do not need to connect them to another existing computer in order to print on them through Cloud Print, as you would with an older printer that is not Cloud Ready.
What about Conventional Printers?
If you’re set on using your old existing printer with your Chromebook, don’t fret. Google’s Cloud Print service can be set up to work even on older printers that are not specifically designed for the cloud. However, because older printers (referred to by Chrome OS as “classic printers”) were obviously not designed to work with Cloud Print, they will have to be connected to an existing Windows or Mac computer with the Chrome browser installed. The whole process is rather intuitive, but here is an exact set of instructions if you need help:
- Log into your Google account in Chrome on your Windows or Mac computer.
- Click on the Chrome wrench icon.
- Select Options (on Windows) or Preferences (on Mac)
- Select “Under the Hood”
- Click the “Sign into Google Print” button.
- Follow the instructions on the screen to complete setup of your older printer with Cloud Print.
Eureka! You’ll now be able to print wirelessly with your older printer using your Chromebook or any computer with Chrome installed (you’ll have to be signed into your Google account, of course).
As you can see, it’s a simple process to configure Cloud Print to work with a conventional printer, but with the necessity of keeping it connected to a powered-on Windows or Mac computer combined with the competitive pricing of Google Cloud Print-ready printers, you may find it easier to just get a new printer. Isn’t it time for a new one, anyway? I mean, how long have you been fixing that paper jam issue? (I know for me it’s been at least seven years.)
If you don’t yet have a Chromebook, head on over to our Chromebook reviews section and compare Chromebook models. Or, if you’re already a proud Chromebook owner and are ready to harness the power of Cloud Printing, check out our recommendations for the best Google Cloud Ready printers (see Selecting a Cloud Print-Ready Printer above).