An Overview of Google Cloud Print

by Aeyne Schriber on September 27, 2014 in Internet Access

Google Cloud Print is a service that has been around for a few years now. Only recently, have users become aware of some of the convenient features that save a lot of time and energy.

If you are unfamiliar with Google Cloud Print, you are not alone. Google first introduced the service a few years ago but, has only recently started to add more features as more users become aware of the benefits of cloud computing.

The Google Cloud Print service provides a way for you to connect your printer to the Internet to print documents from virtually any device. Regardless if your printer is wireless or wired, when you use Google Cloud Print, you never are required to spend time installing printer drivers on your system or waste time trying to work with configurations.

For example, if you want to connect a printer to a specific device such as your tablet PC or laptop, it would be necessary to spend time locating the drivers for the printers you want to use. Then you would need to install the software and proceed through all the steps to install and configure the printer on your device. This process takes time and places a lot of additional tools and software on your device that take up space, not to mention the troubleshooting steps that may be necessary to get everything up and running properly.

Google Cloud Print eliminates the time consuming task of installing software and performing troubleshooting. All you need to do is install the driver for Google Cloud Printer and you are good to go. However, like any other type of convenience, there are a few things to be aware of, as well as some limitations depending upon the environment and type of device you are using.

In this article we will provide you with an overview of Google Cloud Print, how it works, and a few tips and tricks for using this type of printing service.

Google Cloud Print Background

We have already defined what Google Cloud Print is, so let’s talk about the background of the service, where it originated, and where it has recently been headed.

You may be wondering if Google Cloud Print is accessed using an Internet connection, where exactly do you print from and what platforms does the service support? When Google Cloud Print was first introduced it was geared specifically toward Google applications and Google devices for obvious reasons. It was necessary to use the Google Chrome web browser and the Chrome operating system. Additionally, the service only worked with Google applications such as Docs and Gmail.

Google later introduced an app for Cloud Print that enhanced the printing services for Android devices and was the first app to support the service. The Cloud Print app allowed Android users to print files from their smartphone to any printer, as well as share printers with others, access print job management, print web pages, clipboard content, and more. Using the Cloud Print app you could print virtually any local file from your social media accounts, SMS applications, Dropbox, and more.

Introduction of Google Cloud Print Driver

Google extended the capabilities of Google Cloud Print with the introduction of the Google Cloud Print Driver which allows you to print from anywhere using any type of application. The driver can be installed on any device that runs on the Windows operating system and allows you to choose Google Cloud Printer as an option when printing from any application in Windows.

Google Cloud Print Service

Additionally, Google introduced the Google Cloud Print service that can be run as a Windows service. This helps you to use Google Cloud Print with older wired and legacy printers, especially those that are used in educational institutions and businesses.

In terms of iOS, you can obtain a few apps in the iTunes store that are designed to work with Google Cloud Print. These are apps such as PrintCentral Pro and a few apps that are created by independent programmers such as iGoogle Cloud Print that allows you to print files from anywhere, and Quick Print Lite via Google Cloud that enables wireless printing from your iPhone and iPad to any type of printer.

Here is a video that covers a quick introduction to Google Cloud Print.

As you can see, Google Cloud Print has taken significant steps toward accommodating users of cloud computing and mobile workers that need a convenient way to easily print documents from anywhere using any type of device. Let’s talk more about how to use Google Cloud Print.

Connecting Printers to Google Cloud Print

As mentioned earlier, Google Cloud Print can be used with both wired and wireless printers. There are also printers that come with Google Cloud Print preinstalled on the device.

Wired and Wireless Printers

If you are connecting a wired or wireless printer to Google Cloud Print, it is likely the printers are already installed on your device. Your main task is to setup the connection between the printers and Google Cloud Print. This is accomplished by opening the Chrome web browser, clicking on the Menu button, and selecting Settings from the submenu.

Once you are in the Settings window, click on Show Advanced Settings and then select Google Cloud Print. Click on the Add Printers button under Google Cloud Print and place a check mark in the box next to the printer you want to use with Google Cloud Print. At this point, you can also opt to select the box next to Automatically register new printers I connect to save time in the future. Once you are finished click the Add Printer button at the bottom of the printer list.

Once you have clicked on the Add Printer button, the Google Cloud Printer management console will appear. In this interface, you should see the printer or printers you selected in the previous step. If the correct printer(s) are listed, you are all set to print with Google Cloud Print.

To print a specific document, you can opt to select it from your file, click on Print, and then select Google Cloud Print as the designated printer. Or, you can choose to print the document directly from the Google Cloud Print management interface. You can do this by logging into the management interface, selecting Print, and then choosing Upload File to Print. Choose the file and then click on Print.

Printers with Google Cloud Print Preinstalled

Printers that have Google Cloud Print preinstalled are also commonly referred to as Cloud Ready printers. Since the service is already installed and configured, you can easily get down to the business of printing documents. When you connect the printer to your network, registration will automatically follow and the device will make itself readily available for printing.

Additionally, printers that have the GCP service installed will automatically check for updates using your Internet connection. This way you never have to worry about outdated drivers and other issues that can cause problems with the printing process. Google has been gradually adding to its list of cloud ready printers that are being released on the market.

If you already have a new printer that is cloud ready, all you need is a Gmail address. The printer will offer a Quick Setup Guide and Google Cloud Print Guide to help you to easily get started. Plus, Google offers a Cloud Print Help Center to answer any further questions you may have in terms of getting started.

Here is an example visual representation on how the process works on a Canon printer.

Setting Up the Chrome Web Browser for Google Cloud Print

If you are using Google Chrome web browser, this can help to make using the Google Cloud Print service easier and more efficient. As mentioned earlier, we talked about setting up a printer to communicate with Google Cloud Print using Chrome.

It is also important to mention that you must install the browser extension that allows you to print just about any type of document using the Google Chrome web browser. The files include Gmail messages, email attachments, documents stored in Google Docs, files with the .doc, .pdf, .jpg, and .txt extensions, and much more. Additionally, you must have your printer properly connected to Google Cloud Print as described above.

Once you have installed the browser extension, simply click on the icon that appears on the top right hand side of the screen. When you click on the icon, you will be requested to register for the Cloud Print service and then you can add a printer.

To do this, determine whether you have a conventional wired or wireless printer or a cloud ready printer, and then follow the appropriate steps we discussed in connecting printers to Google Cloud Print. Then you simply select the file you want to print, choose Google Cloud Print, and click on Print.

If at any time you want to view your print jobs, you simply log onto Cloud Print, enter the credentials you created when you setup a Google Cloud Print account, and proceed to view and manage all print tasks.

Sharing a Printer

Google Cloud Print also allows you to share printers with other Google users that have a Google account. To setup printer sharing, all you have to do is log onto the Google Cloud Printer management interface, choose the appropriate printer from the list, and then click the Share button.

In the Share feature, enter the Gmail address of the person you wish to share the printer with and then click on Can Print. Once this step is complete, the person you are granting permission to will receive an email message in their Gmail account that contains a link to add the printer.

The message typically says, [Your email address here] has shared a printer with you. Then the recipient clicks on the Add Printer button in the Google Cloud Print notification window and then chooses the Accept function. The recipient can then pull up the document they want to print, choose the shared printer, and click on Print. There is no need to install any software or drivers or hassle with troubleshooting.

Printing from Your Desktop

Google Cloud Print is primarily geared toward mobile devices but, what if you want to print a document from your desktop? The good news is it is possible to print documents from a remote laptop or desktop over the Internet using Google Cloud Print. There are two methods that can be used to accomplish this:

  1. Use Dropbox: Dropbox is a cloud based application that allows you to share files and documents with other users directly from your PC desktop. Dropbox is compatible with Google Cloud Print and constantly monitors Dropbox folders for any printing tasks. You simply download Dropbox onto your device, designate the files you want to print, and allow Dropbox to send it to the printer. Dropbox will print to any printers that are connected to a Windows, Linux, or Mac device.
  2. Use Printer Commands: If you are tech savvy, you can also use printer commands to print files from a remote desktop. In the Windows operating system, open the Run command prompt.

In Windows 7 this is located by clicking on Start and choosing Run from the menu or by simply typing the word Run in thee Start Search box.

For Windows 8, you must right click on the Windows icon on the bottom left hand corner of the screen and then choose Run.   Proceed to type in, C:\Users\<your Windows username here>\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe –user-agent=”Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 2.1-update1; en-us; SPH-D700 Build/labnol) AppleWebKit/530.17 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/530.17?  

When you do this, make certain you replace your Windows username here with your actual Windows username. The command allows you to launch the Chrome web browser but disguises it as a mobile Android device. Then you can simply print any message or document from Gmail by logging into your Gmail account, choosing the document, and clicking on Print. If the document is elsewhere in your files, simply open it and then send it to your Gmail account for printing.

Apps That Can Be Used with Google Cloud Print

As an added tip, you can keep track of what apps can be used with Google Cloud Print by referring back to the list Google Provides for different devices. The Chrome web browser works on all devices plus, Google has added apps to the list for Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows devices. Additionally, there are apps listed that work on all mobile devices, as well as printer devices used by educational institutions and enterprises. You can use this list as a reference and keep referring back to it as Google adds new apps on a regular basis.

Conclusion

By using Google Cloud Print, the service makes it easy to consolidate multiple printers into one location. For example, if you have wireless printer installed on one of your PCs or mobile devices, and you have another printer connected via cable to different device, it is possible to add both printers to the Google Cloud Print service and then print using any PC or mobile device.

Additionally, you can print any document to Google Drive or opt to print directly to your local FedEx service. The ability to save documents to Google Drive allows Google Cloud Print to function similar to the Evernote app. For example, you can print a webpage directly to Google Drive to make it available for viewing at a later date.

Overall, Google Cloud Print has increased its features and capabilities, especially within the last year. Google plans to continue adding additional features and functionality to Google Cloud Print, which will make the service very convenient for consumers and mobile workers to easily print from anywhere using any type of device. It is definitely worth your time to follow the future progress of the Google Cloud Print service as cloud computing continues to catch on with both consumers and business people alike.

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