Google Cloud Print is almost magical: "Ok, Google, print my document... there." As long as you're logged into your Google account, and both your device and your printer are connected to the internet, you can send files to print—from anywhere.
Even the best network printers are notoriously fussy. Print queues pause. Paper jams. Device drivers break. Network setting change.
Google Cloud Print adds to the complexity, since it requires an internet connection, account setup, and printer sharing. Once Google Cloud Print is configured and working, I've found it to be extremely reliable. But, if you encounter a problem, it's a bit more difficult to troubleshoot.
Here are the five steps I use to diagnose and fix Google Cloud Print problems. When you troubleshoot, it helps if you can use a device on the same local network as your Cloud Print printer.
1. Are both devices updated and connected?
Check all the basics first. Have you turned the printer off, then turned it on again? Is there paper in the printer? Does it have ink or toner? Have you rebooted your device? Have you confirmed that the printer is connected to your network? Have you installed all the latest updates for Chrome, the printer's firmware, and your operating system?
2. How is the printer connected?
Check the printer's network connection settings. Most printers provide a network report option that lets you print out the current settings.
While the printer and Google Cloud Print will theoretically work with a dynamically assigned IP address, I recommend you assign a static IP address, if possible. This makes it easier to access the printer's administrative settings since you'll always know the address.
To assign a static IP address to your printer on a small office or home network, log into your router, look for the LAN settings, and find the DHCP configuration area. Refer to the network settings page to find the MAC IC for your printer; it will be twelve hexadecimal characters, something like 00:9C:02:CB:FC:F8. Configure your router to always reserve the same IP address for your printer. (For example, on my network, my printer is at 192.168.1.250.)
3. Is the printer registered with Google Cloud Print?
Next, you need to connect the printer to the Google Cloud Print Service. There are several different ways to do this. For example, if you use an HP ePrint printer, you'll first need to configure ePrint service, then enter the ePrint email address.
Other printers require you to login to the printer's administrative panel (e.g., type the IP address of the printer into your browser), then register the printer. To connect a Brother printer, you'll login to the printer's IP address then register the printer with Google Cloud Print.
You can connect the printer to any Google account. If you use G Suite, I suggest you use either an administrator account or an account dedicated to printer management. Unlike an individual user's account, those accounts are likely to remain active. You don't want Cloud Print to stop working because the printer was configured with an account that was later deleted.
4. Is the printer shared to your account?
The printer should now show as connected and available at the Google Cloud Print site: https://www.google.com/cloudprint/#printers. But, as of now, it's only available to the connected Google account.
Select the printer, then choose "Share." Enter the email addresses of other accounts to allow them access to the printer. You can enter addresses for email groups or lists to offer access to groups of people at once.
Each person you share the printer with will receive an email notifying them of access. To add the printer, they still need to open the email and accept the shared printer invitation.
5. Does your firewall allow Cloud Print access?
In rare circumstances, you'll need to change your firewall settings to allow access to port 5222 for XMPP traffic. The other ports needed, port 80 and 443, are likely already available, since those carry conventional web traffic.
What's your experience?
Have you configured Google Cloud Print at your organization? How does Cloud Print benefit your team? What additional configuration or setup tricks do you use? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!
- How to fix the dreaded Google Cloud printer offline issue (TechRepublic)
- Print anywhere: Chrome, Google Apps, and Cloud Print (TechRepublic)
- How to use Google Cloud Print to make printing from Android a dream (TechRepublic)
- How to: Using Google Cloud Print for working with PDFs (ZDNet)
- Pro tip: Sharing Google cloud print printers (TechRepublic)
- How to connect a Linux machine to Google Cloud Print (TechRepublic)
Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Albuquerque, NM with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.