Sunday, November 9, 2014

Google Cloud Print -- getting offline printers back online (for Chromebook, or other devices)

Quick Fix: scroll to Solution below.

What it is:  Google Cloud Print is a great way to share your printers with someone else; all you need is the Chrome browser.

A friend needs to print something?
They could send you the file, you could save it, open it and hope it looks the same, doesn't contain any malware, you have the same program and version, and then print it.  Or they could install the necessary drivers, software, and then come over and configure a new printer.
Or, you can just share the printer with them (like you do any google doc),
and it will appear in their list of printers available to them (at least from Chrome).
No additional software to install,
no special configuration,
just select that printer in the list of available printers.

Visiting an office or campus, and don't have access to the network printers, don't have the drivers available, etc. ?
Having someone share their printer via google cloud print is an easy way for you to print something there and not bother them every time.  If you don't have a printer, or want to pay for some high-quality output, you can also print directly to a Fedex/kinkos office (and probably other commercial print services) ("Print to Fedex Office" is already available when you print from Chrome).

You don't even have to be on the same network, so you can print on the printer at work while you're at home or on the road, or vice versa.  Some newer printers come "Cloud print enabled", other (older dumb, or directly attached) printers will need to have a Chrome browser running on a computer that can print to that printer (and is shared with you).  An old or cheap computer could be set up to run chrome and be the office "print server", saving everyone one else from having to all install the

Sharing printers via google cloud print may be the only way to print from a Chromebook or Android (direct printing, not by emailing files or photos), because the printer may not support this device or have "drivers" available (stupid manufacturers should use common open protocols, not proprietary device-specific controls).


Occasionally, the printer goes offline.  After months of working fine, it stopped, and said "Printer offline for 10 days", even though it was on, and I had printed to it (minutes before) from the computer where I had shared it.  "Cloud Printers"
showed it as offline, but refreshing did not change the status.
One thing that would probably work is removing, and then adding the printer again to Google Cloud Print (and then probably having to share it again with everyone).  I was starting down this route, and the first step to adding a printer is to go to Chrome settings, find Google Cloud Print (fastest way is to just type "print" into the Search settings box), and then click the Manage button.


Just viewing the devices listed in Google Cloud Print brought the printer back online.
In fact I heard the printer wake up and it commenced to printing the queued document.
Here's a shortcut to that section in your settings:
  -- you'll need to copy and paste it manually (browser security reasons),
or search in settings for "printers".

Now, go the the "Cloud Printers" link above, or if you have the tab open already click refresh, and now it should be online.

If you are using Windows and want to print from other programs, there is "Cloud Printer" software (available from Google).

Why does the printer go offline?  I don't know.
Did this work for you?
Let me know.

Update 2016-02-21This has been reported as a bug at the link below. To vote for it to get fixed, please go to the link and click the star icon near the upper left corner of the webpage. You need to be signed into your Google account to vote.