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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Pro tip: Sharing Google cloud print printers (TechRepublic)
- How to troubleshoot Google Cloud Print in 5 steps (TechRepublic)
- Lantronix: Wireless printing that actually works (TechRepublic)
- How to print from a Chromebook (CNET)
- Print anywhere: Chrome, Google Apps and Cloud Print (TechRepublic)
- How to fix the dreaded Google Cloud printer offline issue (TechRepublic)
Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.