Print documents directly from Gmail on your iPhone, iPad or other mobile device, regardless of where you are. It’s a humble beginning for Google’s new Cloud Print service, but an insanely useful one for heavy users of Gmail’s mobile interface. Add a plugin to the mix and you can print DOC, PDF and TXT documents from your computer.
You’ll need a computer, connected to your printer, to act as a server. Get it set up, though, and you’ll have the ability to print from your mobile devices regardless of where you are. It’s all part of Google’s vision of the future of printing: no need for drivers, no need to configure anything. If you’re on the web, you’re connected to your printer.
A third party plugin for Chrome makes it so you can print certain files from your browser. Still, if you’re wanting to print from your mobile deviceor just want an idea of what Google Cloud Print will be likeit’s time to check this application out.
First things first: you’ll need to use Google Chrome to set this up. Chrome doesn’t need to be your default browser, or even running all the time, but it will need to installed. Also, at this point, you’ll need a Windows computer to use the service (though Mac and Linux versions are reportedly on the way.)
Click here to get started with Google Cloud Print. You’ll need to download a pre-release version of Chrome:
Follow the on-screen instructions, upgrading Chrome if necessary. Once this is done, click the wrench icon and head to your options. Click the “Under The Hood” tab, and scroll all the way to the bottom. You’ll find a new button:
Click “Sign In” and you’re pretty much good to go, once you sign in to your Google Account.
Using Cloud Print
So, how does one use this blasted thing? Log into Gmail from your mobile browser. Compatible attachments in Gmail come with a “print” button:
Click that button and the attachment will be sent to your computer to be printed. You can check the status of your print job online anytime, at Google.com/cloudprint.:
This is great way to see if a document you tried printing on the road made it to your tray at home. Nice.
Want to give this a spin, but lack access to a fancy smartphone? Check out this Chrome extension, which makes it possible to print certain files directly from your browser.
This is just the beginning, of course. Google aims for this system to replace the antiquated way printer drivers work today. Working together with printer manufacturers, Google hopes to see Cloud Print enabled printers on the market. I can see this becoming complicated, but am for the most part glad printers are becoming a little easier to use. If you want to find out more about the direction this project is heading, I suggest you check out Google’s official Cloud Print FAQ.
Printers suck. Not having to deal with drivers any more would be a big help, so I’m glad Google is making this effort. What do you think? Is the product useful for you yet, or are you waiting for it to be able to print from standard computers? Share in the comments below. Also feel free to share any Cloud Print tips you might have, or features I may have missed.