How to print documents from your Chromebook

Printing from a Chromebook requires either a Google Cloud Print Ready printer, or another computer and a little effort.

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I must confess that I am a Chromebook evangelist and heavy user.

For the majority of my everyday tasks, it works as well or better than my Windows laptop. It does most of the things a full-blown PC does for many typical users, and as companies including Microsoft and Google offer more and more cloud-based productivity suites, the relatively inexpensive Chromebook has become a valid choice for a second laptop. In some cases, it may even fill the role of a primary computer at a fraction of the cost.

These affordable machines have gotten better and better over the past year or so. Keyboards have improved and there are a number of Chromebook models that have excellent displays, in marked contrast to many older models. Despite the many positive things that one could say about them, there is one issue that often causes headaches for Chromebook users: printing.

Fortunately, there is a very simple way to print from a Chromebook. Unfortunately, it requires that you have a Google Cloud Print Ready printer. If you are purchasing a new printer, make sure that it is Cloud Ready and you will make things easier on yourself. You can find a list of Cloud Ready printers with setup instructions here.

Once you have setup your Cloud Ready printer, you can use your Chromebook to make sure that you are properly connected:

  1. Open the Chrome browser. 
  2. In a new tab and type chrome://devices in the address bar. 
  3. Look under "My devices" and you should see your printer listed there. 

After you have confirmed that your new printer is listed, all you need to do is either select "print" from the pull-down menu in the top right of your Chrome browser or use the Ctrl+P command. 

But what if you still have a perfectly serviceable printer that isn’t Google Cloud Print Ready? I have a bulletproof Brother laser printer that should provide many more years of service, and I am unwilling to replace it just to make it easier to print from a Chromebook. If you are in the same boat, you can still print from your Chromebook -- it just takes a bit more effort.

First, you will need to use either a Windows PC or Mac with the Chrome browser installed to set up Google Cloud Print and pair it with your Google account. Open Chrome on that computer, navigate to the same chrome://devices address mentioned above, then click the "Add printers" button on that page to get started.

Once you have added your non-Cloud Ready printer to Google Cloud Print, you are ready to start printing from your Chromebook. There are a couple caveats, however. You will need to have your Windows PC or Mac powered up with the Chrome browser open. This is a minor inconvenience, but there is no way to avoid it. As long as everything is working properly you should now be able to print from any of your devices that have the Crome browser installed, including your Chromebook, using the same print commands described above that you would use with a Cloud Ready printer.

In an ideal world, printing from a Chromebook would not require a second computer if you don't own a Cloud Ready printer -- but at least it is possible without buying a new printer or other hardware as long as you have a working Windows PC or Mac.

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