Smartphones have come a long way, and most Android phones nowadays are perfectly capable on-the-go workstations. But, what about when you need to print something on old-school paper? Thanks to the Google Cloud Print service, we can now cut out the laborious PC middle-man and print directly from our smartphones over Wi-Fi. So, here is the easiest way to print from your Android device...
The good thing about Google Cloud Print is that it works with basically every printer, and a ton of applications. Using your Android smartphone or tablet, you can securely send documents to your printer, from anywhere, but the initial setup can be tricky. To get the best experience, you are going to want to use a “Cloud Ready” printer, i.e. a printer which can already connect to the web (check out the full list of supported printers if you’re not sure), and you will need to be using Google Chrome also. Don't worry if you don't have a Wi-Fi enabled printer, you can use your USB printer too, though you will need to have it connected to your powered up PC or laptop to do this.
Most Android smartphones already include the Google Cloud Print functionality. To check, go to Settings > System and see if the Printing option is available. If it is, and the service is pre-installed, go to the options and hit “Cloud Print” and switch it on. Each device will have it's own particular interface, so some menu locations or words may be slightly different.
If you don’t have the Printing option in your Settings, or you don't have the service pre-installed, just head to the Google Play Store, download the free Cloud Print app and add a new printer from there.
Once you select “add printer” from the options menu, you will be taken to Google’s Cloud Print web page (or to your Google account page if you aren't signed in).
The Cloud Print page isn't very user-friendly, but the setup process is rather simple. Follow the steps for your specific printer, whether it is an offline model or a "Cloud Ready" model, and at the end Google will tell you that you can now use that printer whenever you are signed in with the same Google account. So, if you only use a single account on your phone, you're good to go anytime.
Now, navigate to the file you want to print on your Android device and in the options menu, normally where you can rename, view details, delete the item etc., you should also have the option to print it. Here's how to do it, step-by-step.
How to print from your Android phone with Cloud Print:
- Open the file you’d like to print (anything from Google Drive docs to pictures stored on your phone).
- Select the Menu button (the three dots in the top right corner).
- Hit Print
- Select the 'down' arrow (next to Save as PDF)
- Select the printer you want print from. If you can’t find it off the bat, select All printers to bring up a list of options
- Once you’re all set, click the Print button (usually printer-shaped).
Can I print text messages from my phone?
For printing text messages specifically, the easiest option is to use an app like the conveniently named SMS Backup & Restore. This app simply backs up your SMS messages to your phone, email, or cloud service like Dropbox or Google Drive. Just backup the conversations you want to your preferred destination (I found backing them up to Gmail works quite well) and then navigate to where the files are stored. For example, backup your files to Gmail, then go to your Gmail account and select the “print” option in the options menu to print them.
That's all there is to it. Cloud Print is an excellent but often overlooked service, and currently supports the following file types: pdf, jpg, jpeg, docx, ods, xls, xlsx, ppt, odp, txt, doc and xps. If you want a convenient way to print any of these from your device, I'd definitely recommend you check it out, and it's free. For those who have already tried it, let me know in the comments if this process worked for you.