My office printer has an email address. I send an email to the printer; it prints. I can send Microsoft Office documents as attachments; they'll print, as well.
I didn't have to install print drivers. Instead, I connected the printer to the Internet, logged in to the manufacturer's website and then assigned the printer an email address. That's the address to which I send print jobs. Any device that supports email, supports printing.
I can let other people print, as well. I simply add the person's email address to the list at the manufacturer's website. People "on the list" can send email and attachments to the printer. All of this works through the manufacturer's website.
Print via Cloud Print
Google's Cloud Print service lets you link your printers to your Google account. Once linked, you can print to any printer linked to your Google account. For example, you might print a Google Drive document from your Chrome browser at home to your office printer. Applications that support Cloud Print let you print to any connected printer linked with your Google account.
Cloud Print works best with Internet-connected printers that Google calls "Cloud Ready". You connect Cloud Ready printers to the Internet, and then configure them with a web browser. They're truly post-PC devices.
Set up Cloud Print by logging in to your Google account, then going to http://www.google.com/cloudprint/learn/. From there, click the "Try it now" button to link your printers to your Google account. Once enabled, Cloud Print works from several applications, most notably the Chrome browser, across Windows, Mac and Linux systems. (I use Google's Cloud Print often to print from Chrome OS devices, as well.)
Cloud Print also works with older printers: printers that connect with a USB cable or printers accessible only over the local network. Print jobs to these systems go to the computer to which the printer is connected, then to the printer. So you need to leave the remote computer powered on and logged in for remote printing to work.
Share your printer
You can let other people print to your printer with Cloud Print. Choose a printer from your Cloud Print list, click "Share", and then add a person's email address to let them print.
You can also share a printer to the members of a Google Group. For example, you might share a printer with the "email@example.com" group. Members of the group would be able to print documents to your printer from applications that support Cloud Print.
Choose a connected printer
If you use Google Apps and remote printing is important to you, I suggest you select a Cloud Ready printer the next time you purchase a printer. Many newer printers connect directly to the Internet, not all do. Google maintains a list of Cloud Ready printers from major manufacturers.
Additionally, if you use the iPhone or iPad, look for printers that are Airprint-enabled. Airprint enables iOS devices to print directly to a printer over a local WiFi network. Some printers, such as the HP Officejet Pro 8600, are both "Cloud Ready" and "Airprint" enabled.
Google is still building out support for Cloud Print on mobile devices. As of October 5, 2012, Cloud Print for Google Docs works from within the Google Chrome browser on iOS, but not from the Google Drive app on iOS. And you'll need a third-party app to enable Cloud Print on some Android devices.
Ultimately, Google Cloud Print saves your team time. No need to drive into the office to print a document. Set up Cloud Print and start printing remotely from your Chrome browser today.
Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.