Q: A classmate came over to my house recently to work on a project with me. She brought her laptop. When it came time to print, we had to print from her laptop, which meant I had to find the printer disk, hook her laptop up to the printer, and install it, just to print one thing. Is there a better way?
A: First of all, you did consider emailing it from her laptop to your computer or transferring it on a thumb drive, right? I know that probably sounds sarcastic, but sometimes we can look right past the most obvious solution.
Assuming that you did consider that, and you weren't able to transfer the file, there is a way to fairly easily share your printer with anyone you choose. Google Cloud Print allows you to print from any computer in the world to any printer, as long as both of them are connected to the Internet. Setting up Google Cloud Print so that you can wirelessly share your printer with your classmate, or anyone else, is fairly easy.
Many new printers are “Google Cloud Print Ready.” That means that once you have them turned on and connected to a network you can share them through Google Cloud Print quickly and easily. Just follow the directions for your printer at google.com/cloudprint/learn/.
If you have what Google calls a “classic” printer, an older printer that doesn't connect to the cloud, you can still use it with Google Cloud Print. The only extra requirement is that the printer must be hooked up to a computer with Google Chrome installed on it. Open up the settings in Google Chrome on that computer, search for ‘cloud printer.' You’ll see options to add your printer to cloud print and share it with your classmate, co-worker, or whoever. Once your printer is connected to Google Cloud Print, it’s a simple matter to print from Google Docs, Google Chrome, or any Google app. The Cloud Printer app lets you print directly in any app on your Mac, and Google Cloud Printer Driver allows you to print directly from any program on your Windows PC.
You can also use it to print from your iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones and tablets. Most Google apps on iOS and Android let you use Cloud Print by default. On Android many apps support Cloud Print by default. On iOS you can download the PrintCentral Pro app to connect your iPad to Google Cloud Print. The PrintCentral Pro app costs $4.99 for iPhone, and $7.99 for iPad. Check the list of apps that support Google Cloud Print for more information.
Once you have your printer set to use Google Cloud Print, you and whoever you want to allow will be able to print to your printer from anywhere in the world, and you'll never have to go searching for the printer drivers ever again!