Wednesday, April 9, 2014

iPad printing - a workaround (sort of)

One of the big questions I always get asked is "how can I print from my iPad?"

In general my response is "why would you want to?" Snarky? A bit, I admit. But I am a firm believer a core strength of the iPad is in it's ability to eliminate the need for a printer.

But yes, there are times you might need to print from an iPad...

The easiest solution is get an AirPrint printer:

The issue with those, for me and I'm sure other teachers, is two-fold
  1. they aren't approved for purchase by our school/district
  2. they won't work within the proxy configuration of our school/district 
Common problems, I'm sure.

Here is my workaround...

We are a Google Apps for Education school and every teacher has an iPad (yes, Apple and Google can play nice). Here is how we solve the iOS printing issue:

  • On the desktop, Chrome is our default browser for all users
  • Users sign-in to Chrome
  • In the settings they add their local printer to the "Cloud Print" setting
  • On their iPad, in any Google apps, they can select their local printer from the Cloud Print option

What's great about this is none of our printers are actually Cloud Print approved printers (approved printers do not include Lexmark, our official printer vendor), but Google allows you to add non-Cloud Print approved devices, called "classic printers," to your Cloud Print list, as long as they are configured to a full OS.

Here are a few screenshots:
Opened up Chrome on a desktop. I've done this on both a Mac and PC to add a wide variety of printers...
Under Settings->Advanced Settings you'll find "Cloud Print" -> click "Add printers"

You'll see all the printers you have locally configured. They will become your Cloud Printers

You can view all your configured printers. All of these are "classic" printers

On my iPad:

Using my iPad I can print webpages via Chrome or Drive files (when needing to print a Drive file you do if from the "Info" section, not within the file itself). Here are a few Drive screenshots:

Tap the blue "i" next to a file name to get the "Details" pane with the "Print" option

Google iOS apps support Apple's AirPrint as well as their own Cloud Print

You'll see all the printers you have previously configured under your account name

Printers don't need to be physically connected, via USB, to set this up, they just need to be configured on your full OS. I have no printers physically connected to my machine, in fact, I have printers configured in Cloud Print that are on two separate networks (we have 2 VLANs, one for administrative and one for instructional, and they run parallel, restricting cross over). With this Google Cloud Print workaround all I have to do is log in on a computer on both VLANs and set up my printers, now I can print across VLANs. Very handy to be able to print anywhere in my building from anywhere in my building, regardless of VLAN (and no, I don't have to stay logged in, as long as I log in once, set up the printer under my GAFE username in Chrome's settings, I can log out of that computer and still have access to those printers).

You can also use this workaround to print from a Chromebook.

Here are Google's official documentation Cloud Print:
setting up printers

Caveat - Google iOS apps will print to both AirPrint printers and Google CloudPrint printers. Apple apps such as Safari will only print to AirPrint printers.

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