XDA Basics: How to Print from your Android Phone, without needing a computer

XDA Basics: How to Print from your Android Phone, without needing a computer

While our world is transitioning into a digital stage, not everything needs to be digital all the time. Sometimes, you need to take a digital document and print it onto a real sheet of paper. On computers, this is a pretty straightforward process — if you have a printer installed, just fire up a document on whatever word processing/document viewing program you’re using, tap on the “print” button and, if you have a printer connected to your computer either via a network or physical cable, the document will be sent to the printer. You might think you always need a computer to do this, but you’re wrong. If your printer allows it, you can also print straight from your Android phone.

Previously, Google baked in an option for doing this in the form of Google Cloud Print, which allowed users to connect to printers from Google Chrome and Android phones and print documents directly from the cloud. But as of December 31st 2020, Google Cloud Print was killed off by Google citing improvements in native Chrome OS printing as well as several other cloud printing solutions being available. Therefore, the printing methods mentioned in this post will not involve Google Cloud Print. These steps should be mostly the same on all Android devices running Android 9 and up.

How to Print using the Default Print Service

Most Android phones come with a print component called Default Print Service, which is exactly what it sounds like it is. It was first launched with Android 8.0 Oreo and is the result of a partnership with Mopria to bring a native printing platform to Android as a replacement to Cloud Print. Using the Default Print Service, users can connect with printers that are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Using this service is a pretty straightforward process.

  • Go to the Settings app.
  • Go to the Print options. It’s usually in the connectivity-related settings, or it’ll have its own section.
  • Enable Default Print Service.

Once that’s done, in order to print a document, you need to:

  • Open a document with your app of choice for viewing PDF/DOCX documents. For this example, we’re using Google’s own PDF viewer.
  • Look for the Print option, then tap on it.
  • Once that’s done, and your printer is connected to your network and compatible, it should show up on your phone.
  • Print!

How to Print using Third-Party Print Services

With Google axing Cloud Print, one of the objectives of doing that was to get people to use other third-party printing services. Some of them are general, working with a lot of printer brands, while others are specific to certain brands. Most of them however are plugins that work just like the Default Print Service we just mentioned. So if your phone doesn’t have the Default Print Service for whatever reason, or your printer is not showing up on that, using another printing plugin might be a better option.

Depending on the brand, you might find yourself better off using your specific printer brand’s plugin. HP, Canon, Epson, Lexmark and Samsung all have plugins that work well with their specific printers, and some of them, like Samsung’s, also has support for other printer brands as well. Others, like Mopria’s Print Service, are printer-agnostic as many different brands are validated to work on them.

Mopria Print Service
Mopria Print Service
Developer: Mopria Alliance
Price: Free

Once that’s done and you have your printing service installed and ready to go:

  • Go to the Settings app.
  • Go to the Print options. It’s usually in the connectivity-related settings, or it’ll have its own section.
  • Enable the printing service you just downloaded.

Once that’s done, in order to print a document, you need to:

  • Open a document with your app of choice for viewing PDF/DOCX documents. For this example, we’re using Google’s own PDF viewer.
  • Look for the Print option, then tap on it.
  • Once that’s done, and your printer is connected to your network and is compatible, it should show up on your phone.
  • Print!

Why should I care about printing from my Android phone?

There are many scenarios where you might want to print from your Android phone. For example, if someone sends you a document through an instant messaging app, your computer might not be readily available or you might not be able to move it over to a computer before printing. You may simply want to skip that extra step, in which case you can easily print it from your phone if your printer is cloud-compatible.

You might also find yourself in a situation where you need to make a quick touch-up to a document, but don’t want to get to your computer to edit it and then print it. Using a word processor like Google Docs or Microsoft Word, you can quickly edit a document, then print it using the methods provided in this tutorial.

Printing from your Android phone is actually a very useful tool, and we’re glad it’s made easy using Android’s native tools as well as third-party tools.

About author

Arol Wright
Arol Wright

Diehard technology enthusiast, and an Android purist by nature. While I have a soft spot for smartphones, I'm deeply interested in everything techy, be it PCs, gaming consoles, gadgets, you name it. Please direct all inquiries/tips to [email protected]