Printing at home is dead simple, and most of us don't think twice about it. But it sure is a heck of a lot easier when you can send a print job from any device, anywhere in the world to your printer at home.
A slew of cloud-connected printers let you do this, but even if you're stuck with a printer that doesn't talk to the web you can get in on the print-anywhere fun with the help of Google Cloud Print.
This free service from Google has been around since 2011, when it started as a way to print to any printer you owned from Gmail or other Google services. Since then Google has added a number of features, including greatly expanding its functionality and rolling out an Android app and Windows desktop integration.
Here's how to get set up with Google Cloud Print using a non-Cloud Print capable printer.
All about Chrome
For Cloud Print to work you'll first need to download the Google Chrome browser on a PC connected to your home printer. Sign-in to the browser with your Google Account, then click on the "hamburger" menu icon in the upper right corner of Chrome and go to Settings > Show advanced settings > Google Cloud Print.
Now click Manage and then Add printers under "Classic printers." You'll see a list of printers connected to your desktop PC appear in a new tab. Uncheck the box next to any printers you don't want to use with Cloud Print. My PC has separate options to send jobs to my printer whether it's connected wired or wirelessly. Since my printer is almost never physically connected to my PC I only added the wireless version (marked WS) to my collection of cloud printers in the screenshot above.
There's also an option to automatically register new printers to your account, but this can get out of hand quickly if you connect to a lot of printers with a laptop.
Next click Add printer(s) and you're ready to print from the cloud. You only need to add printers to your account once and then they'll be available to you from any device where you sign in with your Google Account.
You can also try out Cloud Print from an Android device by downloading the Google Cloud Print app from Google Play (if it isn't installed already). Users of iOS devices can print from Google Web apps like Drive and Gmail or use a third-party app like PrintCentral Pro.
Try out Cloud Print in Chrome by opening a PDF document in Google's browser. Select the print option and then select your printer from the Cloud Print menu (not the local destinations).
Windows users can also download Google Cloud Printer, which adds your Cloud Print options to your regular desktop printing options. That way you can still send a job to your home printer from the desktop version of Excel or Word (or whatever) if you're working on your laptop at a coffee shop.
There is one potentially big drawback to the otherwise awesome Google Cloud Print, however: It will only work when your home PC is awake and connected to the Internet, with Chrome running in the background. If you send a job to your home printer when your PC is asleep or with Chrome shut down, the Cloud Print job will begin the next time your PC is connected to the Internet and Chrome is active.