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How to Print on a Chromebook: Three Options

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Google Chromebooks are popular tools for teachers, schools and students.

With nearly 30 million units expected to ship by the end of 2022, Chromebooks are among the fastest growing computer categories in the world. Sales in 2021 peaked at more than 37 million units. That was made possible, in part, by federal aid in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and remote learning.

Chrome OS powers Chromebooks, but it’s been criticized as being more of a glorified Chrome browser and not a fully functional operating system. The system does offer file management, standalone apps, access to the Google Play Store and other functions, but relatively limited printing functionality. To print from a Chromebook in the past, most users had to go through Google Cloud Print, but the service was discontinued in early 2021.

There are other options, however, including the following three to help you learn how to print with Google Chromebook.

  1. Connect to a Wireless Printer
  2. Add a Print Server Using CUPS
  3. Use Print Management Software

1. Connect a Wireless Printer to Your Chromebook

If your printer is Wi-Fi compatible, connecting your printer can be pretty straightforward. First, you need to make sure that both your printer and Chromebook are connected to the internet.

Once connected, it may be as simple as pressing Ctrl + p, then scrolling to See more. The wireless network printer might automatically show up on the list so you can select the printer easily. To save the printer as your default:

  1. In the lower right corner of the Chromebook screen, click the Clock icon, then the Settings gear icon
  2. Select Advanced at the bottom of the screen
  3. Under Print and Scan, click Printers
  4. Your wireless printer name should appear under Available printers to save; click Save to set up your printer of choice 

What if you don’t see your printer as an option? Try turning your Chromebook’s Wi-Fi off and on. If that doesn’t work, try entering the manufacturer name and model number to pair it with your Chromebook. You may have to add it manually if it doesn’t work.

2. Add a Printer Server

IT administrators might consider setting up a Common UNIX Printing System (CUPS) to print to local and network printers. CUPS provides options for home users, USB connected printers or non-cloud printers. When you add a printer, it automatically appears in your users’ saved printer lists.

Once you’re signed in as an administrator, go to the Google Admin console home page, then go to Devices > Chrome. (If you don't see Devices on the Home page, click More controls at the bottom.)

  1. Scroll down and click Printers
  2. To apply the setting to everyone, leave the top organizational unit selected. Otherwise, select a child organizational unit
  3. Click Print Servers at the top
  4. Hover over Add, then click Add a print server
  5. Enter the printer’s IP address and any print server details
  6. Click Add print server

3. Use Print Management Software

The best option to ensure effective and secure printing capabilities from a Chromebook is to utilize a print management solution like PaperCut or Uniflow. This is especially useful if you administer a large number of Chromebooks and want to monitor and control how students use their printing privileges. Papercut can print from Windows, MacBooks and iOS devices and offers native printing to Chromebooks.

The advantage of using a managed print software solution is that, in addition to allowing basic print functions, administrators can offer selective broadcasting of print queues to Chrome OS users, track print activity by linking the device to the users’ accounts and enforce secure release of jobs. Another benefit these solutions offer is printing solutions for other mobile device operating systems, such as iOS and Android platform devices.

Advanced print options for organizations need to be flexible and secure for all of their users. School districts can benefit from a review of their printer fleet to ensure compatibility and ease of use so that educators and students can focus on learning. If you have any questions about this or any other print-related frustrations, please reach out to the print experts at Gordon Flesch Company for a free assessment. Also be sure to view our Guide to Printers for Schools below.

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