Cloud

How to print to a local network printer from a Chromebook

Chromebooks offer convenience and portability, but what about printing? Here are three ways to print directly to your networked printer from a Chromebook.

Screenshot of new Chromebook local print settings and drawn printer image
Image: Andy Wolber / TechRepublic

Chromebooks recently gained the experimental ability to print to local printers with the release of Chrome OS Version 57 to the stable channel. That's great news if you want to use a Chromebook with network printers that don't support Google Cloud Print. Local printing also allows you to print when your internet connection is down or when you'd prefer to not use Google Cloud Print.

Chromebooks and printers haven't always gotten along well. Not every printer supports Google Cloud Print, since manufacturers historically sold printers that worked with Windows and macOS systems. Chromebook users had to either add an adaptor, such as Lantronix's xPrintServer Cloud Edition, or buy a Google Cloud Print-compatible printer.

Here's how to enable the experimental printing setting on a Chromebook—along with a couple other alternative printing methods, as well.

Experimental: Enable Native CUPS printing

As of March 2017, local printing is still an experiment and is hidden until you enable it. Go to the chrome://flags URL in your Chromebook's browser, look for "Enable Native CUPS," and click the "Enable" link below the setting. This adds support for long-time standard Unix-style print standards—the CUPS (common Unix printing system) system that uses IPP (internet printing protocol)—to your Chromebook.

Once Native CUPS is enabled, you'll see a new "Printers" option in your Chrome settings (see: chrome://settings, at the bottom of the page select "Show advanced settings...," then scroll) above the standard "Google Cloud Print" option.

Screenshot of chrome://flags and Chrome local printer settings

To enable experimental local printing from a Chromebook to a local printer, go to chrome://flags and enable Native CUPS, then configure a printer in the Chrome settings.

Select "Manage," and a nicely-designed Material Design version of printer settings appears, with the option to "Add Printer." You'll need to know the IP address, configured protocol, and queue settings for your printer. After you enter this information, if your device isn't found, you can also select your printer from a long list of manufacturers and models, or browse to choose your own driver.

Now, when you print, your file goes from your device to the printer over your local network.

Screenshot of local printer configuration options

You'll need to know the IP address of your local printer and make sure that it is configured to print with the necessary protocols, such as IPP.

Alternative: IPP/CUPS extension

A third-party vendor, youmeebee Limited, offers several apps and extensions in the Chrome Web Store as part of the directprint.io product line. Their products all enable direct, local printing to a specific set of supported printers. See the list of printers on their site: https://directprint.io/#printers.

An individual Chromebook user would typically install the "WiFi printer driver for Chromebooks" app. Open the app to detect supported printers on your local network. If it finds supported devices, you can choose "Change" from the Google Print options and then select your printer. (Also see their "IPP / CUPS printing for Chrome & Chromebooks" extension for printing to other devices, as well.)

The company offers enterprise versions for a fee than can be deployed and managed from the G Suite admin console or directprint.io. These allow an administrator to manage printing to some legacy printers that don't otherwise work with Google Cloud Print.

Screenshot of WiFi printer driver app in the Chrome Web Store

Alternatively, install the WiFi printer driver for Chromebooks app from the Chrome Web Store to print to a specific set of supported printers directly.

Simplest: for HP printers only

HP printer users may have the simplest alternative: Install the HP Print for Chrome app, then choose "Change" from the Google Print options and choose your local HP networked printer. The HP app takes care of the configuration, and allows you to print directly to your networked printer—without the need to route your request through Google Cloud Print.

Screenshot of HP Print for Chrome app in Chrome Web Store

The HP Print for Chrome app lets you print directly to supported HP printers — with no configuration needed. From Google Print, choose "Change", then select the printer.

Chromebook printing choices

Of course, for organizations that use G Suite, Google Cloud Print makes the most sense. An administrator can configure and manage Cloud Print devices from the admin console. But there are still lots of legacy printers that simply don't support Google Cloud Print. It looks like Google's working to support Chromebook printing to those printers soon. And even if you use Google Cloud Print, it's helpful to have local print options for those times when an internet connection fails.

How do you print from your Chromebook? If you use Chromebooks in an organization, do you use Google Cloud Print, one of the above alternatives, or another solution? Let us know in the comments.

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About Andy Wolber

Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.

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