Let’s all shed a collective tear for another wonderful Google feature meeting its demise. As if 2020 wasn’t bad enough… Google Cloud Print goes away December 31st.
Like Picasa, Hangouts and Reader before it, the remote printing solution will be sorely missed. Cloud Print was a staple for IT, educators and a core of die hard users who enjoyed the simplicity of a secure remote printing solution. Sure, there are alternatives. You can explore options for replacing Cloud Print with one of these Google printing partner’s services:
While these may be wonderful services (apparently PaperCut offers a free option which most closely resembles Google’s offering) they all feel a little too… enterprise.
Keep it Local
What about a simple method for a small office or even a home printer? Some of us don’t want or need the cloud. One of the things I loved about Google Cloud Print was turning an obsolete old Laser Jet into a wireless printer. Just plug it into a desktop, then share it with the household through your Google account. Voila!
While most of the services above can also offer that sort of magic, it seems a little silly to send a print job halfway around the world when the printer is across the hall. There’s another option, and it’s even more reliable. If you have a printer with an Ethernet port you can make it a wireless printer for under $20.
WiFi Printer Bridge
Transforming a wired printer into a wireless printer is a perfect SOHO solution. Using a WiFi trick called bridging makes this possible. A multitude of devices exist to make this a simple plug-and-play operation. Or you can go the OpenSource route and release your inner nerd.
Simple bridge routers plug into the printer’s Ethernet with the standard RJ-45 connector. A second connection is needed to power the router. Now you set it to recognize your WiFi network. Once logged on any computer on your WiFi should be able to connect to the new printer.
Some of these devices are one-trick ponies and only provide a bridged connection. Some are actually small routers and work great for a portable access point or inconspicuous WiFi range extender.
Another option requires a little nerditude.
If you have an old router sitting around you can probably turn it into a bridge router using the firmware alternative called DD-WRT. This is a Linux-based package that replaces the factory firmware provided with the router. Bridge mode is only one nifty trick, DD-WRT offers a slew of advanced features. Be advised: setting it up can be intimidating, and it’s possible to brick your router if you do it wrong! For that reason I recommend using an old router— it doesn’t need to be fancy.
Sure, it’s always best to run cable. But sometimes it’s just not feasible. That’s when a little WiFi magic comes in handy. It’s also worth mentioning these solutions apply to anything with a wired network connection— even TVs.