Use Gmail on Your Smartphone to Print from the Cloud

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I am a big fan of Gmail and I use it daily on my smartphone. Google products are fun to use because Google frequently updates programs with new features.

The latest enhancement allows you to print directly from your smartphone using Google Cloud Print.

How it works

As of this second, the feature is only available for users running Windows, but Linux and Mac support is coming soon. Google Cloud Print runs inside of Google’s Chrome browser, so you have to download and install it within Chrome. In case it was not obvious, that computer also needs to be connected to a printer. You can install the Cloud Print on any number of computers, but Google recommends limiting it to three.

Once you have Google Cloud Print up and running, you can print wirelessly from devices running Gmail mobile. The “print” option will appear as an option from the dropdown menu, along with the other actions that are currently available. You can print .doc and .pdf documents.

Although not expressly indicated on Google’s blog, it appears that Gmail mobile only runs on iPhones and devices running Android.

Easy printing on the move

This is not a game-changer, but is useful. Instead of waiting to print something once you are in your office, you can print as soon as you see an attachment in an e-mail. For example, if you are sitting on the bus and want to review a document once you get in. Or if you are walking into the office and want to have something ready and waiting when you walk in.

Google tracks what you print

Like any other cloud computing issue, there are data security concerns. In theory, the attachment is already in Gmail and on Google’s server. When you print documents, however, Google Cloud Print’s FAQ says that it keeps a copy of document until the document actually prints and then deletes it from the server.

Google also keeps a running log of everything you print, but says you can edit your log through the print dashboard. To me, the most concerning statement is that “Google does not access the documents you print for any purpose other than to improve printing.”

That is ambiguous enough to allow Google to read anything you print. If the document is already on Google’s servers, that is probably not a huge concern, but it is something to be mindful of.

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  • Doc Ryder

    I find Google’s policies a bit disconcerting. What is to prevent them from “storing” your print documents or monitoring the content to push related ads or products to you when you are using Chrome? On the matter of security of the documents, it would seem the risks far outweigh the convenience.

    • Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t worry too much about Google’s computers scanning my correspondence to deliver targeted ads. I’m much more worried about human beings having access to my information.

      As for cloud printing, I don’t really get it. I can’t imagine when I would want to print something unless I am in the room.

    • I would say those are both valid concerns with using any of Google’s products, including Cloud Print.

  • I have an android phone and I downloaded a great app from the Android Market called PrinterShare Mobile that finds and prints to just about any wireless printer or printer attached to a wireless network. It is pretty cool and actually works, the full version costs $4.95 for printing plus $4.95 to render documents other than PDF’s. I do not recall both charges when I bought it a few months ago, and you may not need both parts of the program, but in any event even for a total of $10.00 it is a great program. If you search “printing” in the android market you will find it and you can download a trial version for free. In my case it found both my office printer andm y home printer and downloaded any applicabale drivers and works fine. No kickbacks for me, I just like the app! This app should be able to print to just about any wireless printer and also can print through the web to a remote printer. Unfortunately the program has ben recently updated which changed some funtionalities so be sure to read comments from developer and users in the maretplace before buying.