Printing From Android Tablets and Phones


If you use your Tablet/phone frequently you will sooner or later want to print something.

Many of you will transfer the document to your PC either via email or file transfer and print them from there, as it is usually the easiest method.

However if you are prepared to do a little setup in advance you can also print directly to printers on your network from your Tablet/phone.

What You will Learn

  • How printing Works
  • What is Google Cloud Print and how to setup printing
  • How to print from Your Tablet/phone direct to a Printer on Your Home Network

How Printing Works

Before we look at how we print from android we need to look at how most people print from their PC/laptop.

There are three types of printer that you will encounter:

  • Local Printer
  • Network printer
  • Network attached printer

For most people their printer will be plugged into their PC/Laptop using a USB cable. In this configuration the printer is known as a local printer.

This configuration is the easiest one to set up.

The owner of the PC, with the directly attached printer, can make this printer available to other users on the local network ( printer sharing) and they can use this printer just as they would a local printer.

However for those users the printer is known as a network printer.

The last type of printer is a network attached printer that attaches directly to the network, and doesn’t need to be physically connected to a host computer.

These printers are usually Wi-Fi based printers, and are very useful as it means that you don’t need to have a computer switched on to make the printer available.

The simple schematic below illustrates the various configurations.

printer-configurations

Connecting Your Android Tablet/Phone To Your Printer

It is not really possible, or practical to plug a printer directly into the USB port of your Android tablet/phone.

Even if you did then these printer types aren’t supported by Android.

You can get printer specific Apps for printing to Wi-FI enabled printers e.g. Epson iPrint,and the Lexmark Mobile Printing App.

Generally this printers are installed on the existing network via a Wireless Access point.

There is a newer method of connecting directly to Wi-Fi printers called Wi-Fi direct that currently isn’t widely supported on printers but will probably become the norm in future years.

Android from version 4 supports Wi-Fi direct. See Setting up Wi-fi on ANdroid

Take a look at this PC Magazine article on wireless Printing.

Using Google Cloud Print

If you only have a local printer then the simplest solution I’ve found is to use the Google cloud print service.

The Google cloud print service lets you print to the printers that you currently have attached to your local network from your Android device.

Setting Up And Using Google Cloud Printing

To setup and use Google cloud printing you will need a Google account and the Google Chrome browser.

There are two main steps.

  1. Enable Google Chrome Connector and register your printers.
  2. Install the Google Cloud print App on your Android device and test that printing works.

Step 1- Enable Google Chrome Connector and register printers.

You login to Google cloud print services using the Google Chrome browser, and your Google account.

The first step is to enable the Google Chrome connector by going to this url (url=https://www.google.com/cloudprint/enable_chrome_connector/enable.html?proxy=).

You will need to login using the Google account that is configured on your Android device.

Click on the Add printers link.

google-add-printers

The print devices that are connected to your computer should be detected, and a list of printers will be displayed.

All of the available printers will be ticked which means they will be registered by default.

cloud-print-detect-printers

Un-tick the ones you don’t want to register. I’ve un-ticked all except Epson (below).

Note: you may also want to enable the Automatically register new printers option.

google-register-printers

Click on the Add Printers button to Add the printers and you should get a confirmation message.

Click on the manage printers link in the confirmation message.

google-printers-registered

You should see your printer(s) listed as shown.

Google-cloud-print-management

Step 2- Install the Google Cloud Print App and Test

Install the App from the playstore.

install-cloud-print-app-android

Printing Files

Printing is done from inside a print capable App e.g Google Docs,Adobe reader etc.

To test the print works open a file using Google Docs go to options menu-icon share and export>print.

Note: I am using a small test file in my download folder

google-cloud-list-android

Select your printer from the device list (below)

google-select-printer-from-list

Note: my device list is large because I have several Google accounts on my tablet, and I have Google drive installed.

Take care to choose the correct printer. In my case I will use the Epson printer linked to the stevesandroidguide account.

in the screen shot below you can see the Epson printer has been selected, and all you now need to do is press the print icon.

You can change the print setting before printing by pressing the down arrow (screen shot below).

google-cloud-print-android

The print should appear on your printer.

Quick Troubleshooting Notes

You can see if the job is in the print queue waiting to be printed by selecting the print device and going to the print jobs in the print manager.

google-cloud-print-job

Make sure that you haven’t sent the print job to the wrong device, I sent mine to Google drive the first two times I tried.

Also be patient as it does take longer than when you print directly from your computer.

Printing To a PDF

If you need to create a document in a universal shareable format then you can easily convert it into a pdf file from within Google Docs.

Open the file Google Docs go to options menu-icon share and export>Save as. Then enable the pdf option:

aveaspdf

Related Articles and Resources:

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