Printing hard copies of documents is one of the most basic tasks a computer can perform. But did you know that it’s almost as easy to do from an Android phone or tablet?
It may be hidden away, but it’s possible on any device and doesn’t require any special hardware either. Whether you’re using a manufacturer-specific app or the Google Cloud Print service, you can print your documents or favorite photos to almost any printer. Here’s how to get started.
Printing Directly to Your Printer
When you want to print from your Android phone or tablet, the first place to start is the Play Store. Most major brands have their own dedicated apps that will install the necessary drivers to enable you to print directly to their wireless printers.
To find the apps either search in the store, or head to Settings > Printing on your phone and tap Add service. The resulting screen will show all available printing apps, and you can choose the one that corresponds to your printer make.
Each app works in a different way, so follow any on screen instructions for your chosen app and printer. In general terms, you will need to ensure that your printer is connected to the same wireless network as your phone, and it should be automatically detected by the app. You can then select the printer and be ready to go.
Printing with Google Cloud Print
Google Cloud Print offers a way of printing from any computer or mobile device to almost any printer — wireless or not — from anywhere.
There is a growing range of Cloud Ready printers that are fully set up to work with the service, but if you have an older or non-compatible printer you can still use it. Cloud Print works by connecting a printer to your Google account.
Again, the instructions will vary for each printer model. You can find them for each manufacturer on Google’s Cloud Print page. The process requires you to register your printer with your Google account, so that you can access it remotely. Here’s an example of what you need to do with Canon Cloud Ready printer:
Register Your Classic Printer
Obviously, having a Cloud Ready printer is the easiest way to print from Android. But if your printer is older — which Google calls a “Classic” printer — you can still use it. To do this you will need a desktop computer or laptop running Google Chrome (or Chrome OS), and your computer will need to be turned on whenever you want to print to it.
Because Cloud Print connects via your Google account, you will also need to make sure you’re logged in to your account in Chrome, which acts as the print server.
To begin, open Chrome on your desktop and make sure you’re signed in to your Google account. Next, go to Preferences. In Settings scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on Show advanced settings.
Scroll down further to the section labelled Google Cloud Print, and click Manage. Under Classic Printers click Add printers. You should now see a list of the printers connected to your computer. They should be automatically selected, along with the Automatically register new printers option. If not, tick them and hit the blue Add printer(s) button.
And that’s it. Your printer is now registered with your Google account and will be accessible on your Android device so long as you’re logged in to the same account.
Most modern Android devices will not need any additional setup to work with Google Cloud Print. There is a Cloud Print app, but it is preinstalled on devices running Android 4.4 and later. If yours doesn’t have it, you can download it for free from the Play Store.
How to Print Documents
When you are ready to print, the process is different depending on which apps you’re using. Some apps, including Google apps and third party file managers and image viewers, have a dedicated Print option in the menu.
Tap this, and select your printer from the drop down menu (it may default to the Save as PDF option). Swipe down from the top to change the print settings, such as the number of copies, page orientation, paper size, and so on. When finished, tap the printer icon to print. It’s essentially the same as printing from your desktop.
Not all apps have a print option. If you want to print from one that doesn’t, you can install the PrinterShare Print Service app from the Play Store. Once you have installed and activated this free app you’ll find a new PrinterShare option will appear under the Share menu in many apps.
Tap this, and you can access any printers setup on your Android device, including those you have registered as Cloud Print printers. Tap through the various screens, including choosing the Google account your printers are registered with, and picking the specific printer, and eventually you’ll end up at the standard print screen. You can now print your document.
Print to PDF
One of the standard options you’ll see in the print settings screen is Print as PDF. This saves your chosen document as a PDF file, and is very useful for sharing documents in a format that is easily readable on virtually any device.
Print to Any Printer
It may not be as important to print files as it used to be, but when you need to do it, there’s no other option. Google Cloud Print’s ability to print to any printer, and from anywhere, makes it an essential service. If you need to print your PDF files, important emails, or just your holiday photos, it’s easy to do it straight from your Android phone.
Do you print from your Android phone or tablet? Have you used Google Cloud Print? Let us know your experiences with the service in the comments.