Answer Line: How to print from Android

Ninthchamber asked the Printers forum about printing from an Android device.

One usually doesn't associate printing with phones or tablets, in large part because once you have a portable device, you have less need for paper. But it still occasionally comes in handy.

You can print directly from an Android device with the right Wi-Fi or Bluetooth printer. However, as I don't like to give advice that involves spending large sums of money, I'm going to tell you how to do it with whatever printer you already own. The only expenses will be paper and ink.

[Email your tech questions to answer@pcworld.com or post them on the PCW Answer Line forum.]

There is one caveat: The print job has to go through a computer that can already use that printer. If your PC isn't on when you tell your phone or tablet to print a document or photo, the actual printing won't happen until you next boot the computer.

The whole trick depends on Google's free Cloud Print technology. This requires Chrome on your PC, and a Google account, such as you would need for Gmail or Google Docs. You have to be logged onto that account on both the phone and the PC.

To set everything up on the computer, launch Chrome, click the menu icon in the upper-right corner (it looks like three horizontal lines) and select Settings. At the bottom of the page, click Show advanced settings. Scroll down to the Google Cloud Print section.

What options you'll see depends on other settings. Most likely you'll see an Add printers or a Manage print settings button. The first will add your installed printers to the list. The second will allow you to see what printers are there.

To prepare your phone or tablet, download and install a Cloud Print-supported app; you'll find several on Google's Cloud Print App page

I tried the first, Paulo Fernandes' Cloud Print, and have no complaints. It's free, and it found my Google account on the phone without problems. (The Google page describes it as BETA, but neither Fernandes' page nor the app itself says anything of the kind.)

After the easy setup, Cloud Print appears as an option any time you tap Share on a file or photo. Select it, then tap Click here to print.

If your computer is on, it will print. If not, it will print later.

Read the original forum discussion.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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