Google Cloud Print was deprecated in January 2021. What does that mean in software terms? The once-popular printing service is no longer supported. It’s not being patched or maintained. More importantly, you can’t even find it anymore. Go. Try. You won’t get far, I promise you.
Now, to be fair to Google, they provided a year’s warning. The December 2020 end-of-life for the service was announced in 2019. They gave all users worldwide 12 months’ notice to migrate to an appropriate alternative.
Why this much lead time? Well, Google knew how popular their print enablement solution was. That’s kind of why they ended the service. Google Cloud Print was a crowd-pleaser, but it was never officially launched. In fact, it never left its beta tag.
Why? It’s a long and complicated story. But in a nutshell… It was Google’s own internal printing solution that they made available publicly. And because they’re Google, lots of people used the service. It became too big a beast and they had to use it or lose it. They opted to lose it.
So why scrap Google Cloud Print if it was both beloved publicly and used internally?
(TL;DR, if you just want to know what’s the best Google Cloud Print alternative, skip ahead to the main bit.
What happened to Google Cloud Print?
Google Cloud Print was first announced in 2010. It approximately coincided with the release of Chromebooks and Chrome OS. Since Chrome OS is browser-based, it made sense for Google to develop a solution that enabled printing over the internet.
Launched in 2011 as a beta product, Google Cloud Print started as a Chromebook-exclusive solution. But in order for it to work, Google had to integrate the service with printer manufacturers.
This was all fine when the solution was just being used on Chromebooks. But, eventually, it reached mixed fleet environments. Because Google Chrome quickly became one of the most popular web browsers. Since the browser could be accessed with any device and OS, Google Cloud Print found itself in a situation where it was wanted on Windows and Mac devices. Which is fine if accessing documents via the Web. The tricky part was users wanting to print from native applications. So, native Google Cloud Print connectors were born. That worked for Google Cloud Print integrated printers, but not for legacy printers. So, more connectors were born. But Google Cloud Print was essentially becoming more and more complicated. A service initially intended as a Chromebook printing solution became mission-critical for thousands of businesses worldwide on various non-Google platforms…
Listen to the Print Geeks podcast for the full story.
Why did Google deprecate Google Cloud Print?
Google Cloud Print spread too far and wide and got to the point where Google had to either commit to printing as part of their core business or deprecate the service. They chose the latter.
But they had to rethink how they could solve printing for Chromebooks. So they built in native printing for Chromebooks. They then started working with print software providers to fill in the gaps of Google Cloud Print. That’s where alternative software comes in. I’m getting there, I promise!
How to print without Google Cloud Print
Part of the reason Google said bye-bye to Google Cloud Print was to encourage printing from Chrome OS. 100% Managed Chromebook environments can simply use CUPS (Common UNIX Printing System) for Chrome OS to deploy printers through G Suite.
To do so, ensure that your printer is on the same network but first just double check it’s compatible. This option is suitable if you primarily need to enable printing, and management tools like visibility, secure print release, and print policies aren’t a business concern.
That’s for Chromebook only environments. If you’re in a multi-device and/or multi-OS environment, Google’s official advice is you should use an alternative print solution.
7 Google Cloud Print software alternatives
Hooray, we made it to the main point!
I mentioned above that Google worked with print software providers to help users migrate from Google Cloud Print to an alternative service. So there are a bunch of other solutions available. Some are even recommended by Google. No matter what your print and device fleet looks like, there’s definitely a service for you.
Okay, showing my hand here. The following list does include a PaperCut alternative for Google Cloud Print. That’s why I wrote this blog. But! We’re not going to act like we’re the only option. We’re a customer-first company. We care that your printing is improved. If it’s not with our solutions, so be it. Plus, many of the options below offer free trials, so you can pick and choose based on what suits your needs.
Here (finally) are 7 software alternatives for Google Cloud Print.
PrinterLogic is a serverless SaaS solution with print management features and is a highly recommended Google Cloud Print alternative. It has a Chrome extension for simple migration from Google Cloud Print and is recommended by Google. You can test it out with a 30-day free trial.
YSoft Everyone Print
YSoft’s EveryonePrint is a cloud-based Google Cloud Print alternative that comes with print management features included. It’s a highly-reputed BYOD solution recommended by Google. You can request a demo or start with a free trial.
UniFLOW is a free cloud-native Google Cloud Print alternative with print management features. It’s a free wireless cloud printing solution, no software installation required, that integrates with Google platforms and is Google Chrome Enterprise recommended.
Ezeep’s a web-interface based print enablement solution that’s actually been around longer than Google Cloud Print. In fact, it was a Google Cloud Print alternative for Windows and Mac while Google Cloud Print was up and running. You can get started with a 30-day free trial.
Printix is a subscription service for wireless cloud printing. As well as offering print management functionality and Google Workspace integrations, it also has an inbuilt driver updater and is recommended by Google. You can get started with a demo or a free trial.
Directprint is another alternative recommended by Google. Its driver app provides a native printing experience for all major platforms. It’s aimed at enterprise customers and offers a free 30-day trial.
PaperCut Mobility Print
PaperCut Mobility Print is a local and remote cloud printing solution. It’s Google Enterprise recommended and supports Native UI printing for Chrome OS, Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android. It also provides off-network remote printing for Chromebooks, Windows, and Mac laptops/desktops. It’s also entirely free, but primarily for print enablement.
Download PaperCut Mobility Print now.
PaperCut Mobility Print is just to get your printing happening. For cloud-based print management like tracking and reporting, you might want to give PaperCut Pocket a spin. It’s a cloud-native print solution that you can install yourself and users can access it simply from the mobile app. It’s not entirely free like PaperCut Mobility Print, because of its print management features, but you can get started with a free trial.
Try PaperCut Pocket now.
But, don’t take it from us. All that is a super quick rundown. Check out this article from Beebom and this article from TechPout on Google Cloud Print alternatives for a full analysis of various solutions.
What Google Cloud Print alternative did Google use?
The Google Cloud Print deprecation impacted Google as much as all its users.
Google had one option of taking over the Google Cloud Print infrastructure and making it internal only. Their other option was to build a new solution or find a print management solution from a third-party provider. They went with the latter and they went with PaperCut software.
Ofer Bar-Zakai on deprecating Google Cloud Print and choosing PaperCut software
Google had specific requirements which included integrating with their BeyondCorp infrastructure, security, Native OS, and mobile device printing.
Read more about how Google solved their printing with PaperCut.
How to choose a Google Cloud Print alternative
I’ve used the word solution a lot in this blog. That’s because different printing environments have different problems. We don’t believe in a one solution fits all approach. So our advice is to assess your print environment. Write down your primary printing problems. Try all of the above options. Whichever solution ticks all your boxes. That’s the right fit for your business.
And hey, if you want to begin with PaperCut Mobility Print. I won’t stop you =D