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Cloud Printing

There are times when it is nice to be able to print something remotely--where remote can mean from a cell phone to a printer across the room when you visit an associate‘s home office, or to a printer 1000 miles away. The article that follows describes two possible solutions for remote printing through the cloud that can be useful in different situations. The first solution described, Epson Connect, is perhaps the easiest to configure and requires no special software on your cell phone or laptop--one of the interfaces is just to email a document or photo to a special email address. The second service described is Google Cloud Print, which is much more general that works with printers from many manufacturers. The article is divided into the following sections:

Configuring an Epson WF-2540

The printer for this example is an Epson WF2540, an all-in-one scan-print-fax machine that is relatively inexensive. It has Wi-Fi connectivity and supports both Epson Connect and Google Cloud Print. Configuring the printer for these services is relatively easy, but there are some glaring security holes that really require that don't use your primary Gmail user ID to configure Google Cloud print.

  1. In the operator panel, scroll through the settings until you find the IP address of the printer.
  2. On a computer connected to the same network, put in the printer IP address into URL window for the browser to get to the administration panel for the printer. This is really where the security exposures are--there is no admin credential needed to get to the administration panel, so anyone with access to the Wi-Fi network could reconfigure the printer.
  3. On the admin menu, go to the configuration menu options for Epson Connect or Google Cloud print as appropriate.
  4. If you want to forward scanned documents, configure the email and/or Cloud storage accounts for the scanning subsystem.

Because the security of the device is unknown, you should use a Gmail (or cloud storage)account and password that you can abandon--if someone with access to the WiFi network is able to penetrate the printer‘s embedded web server and access passwords (there is now way to tell how well protected they are), you don't want to lose control of your primary Gmail account.

Configuring and Using Epson Connect

As part of the setup on the printer, you will create an Epson Connect user ID. Once you have created the user ID, log and configure configure the various cloud printing features. The login and printer status screens are shown in Figures 1 and 2. The first step is to look at or perhaps change the email address for this printer as shown in Figure 3. Once you are happy that the email address is one that people will remember, go to the “Approved Senders List” menu item under the Email Print section, and add the email addresses of authorized users as shown in Figure 4. If you want to use the printer to scan and email to someone or scan to a cloud storage account, configure that under the Scan to Cloud menu section as shown in Figures 5 and 6.

Figure 1. Epson Connect login panel.
Figure 1.  Epson Connect login panel
Figure 2. Epson Connect printer status display.
Figure 2.  Epson Connect printer status display
Figure 3. Epson Connect panel for configuring printer email address. Cloaption> Figure 3.  Epson Connect panel for configuring printer email address
Figure 4. Epson Connect panel for adding an email address to the list of email addresses authorized to print.
Figure 4.  Epson Connect panel for adding an email address to the list of email addresses authorized to print
Figure 5. Epson Connect list of remote scanning destinations.
Figure 5.  Epson Connect list of remote scanning destinations
Figure 6. Epson Connect panel for adding an email address or Google Drive, Box, Drop Box or Evernote cloud storage services as a scanning destination.
Figure 6.  Epson Connect panel for adding an email address or Google Drive, Box, Drop Box or Evernote cloud storage services as a scanning destination

Configuring Google Cloud Print to Share a Printer

Google Cloud Print is a much more general printing solution where the only printing interface is as a traditional printer--there is no email address for a printer defined to Google Cloud Print. That said, Google Cloud Print will support traditional printers that don't have any special software, which is a huge benefit for most individuals and organizations. For security reasons, you will probably want to create a new Google ID for your printers, since the user ID and password will have to be configured on the printer, and isn't really any way to know how securely the software in the printer stores your credentials. To define a cloud printer, log in to Google and go to https://www.google.com/cloudprint. From there, click on the “Try it now” button in the lower left corner, as shown in Figure 7.

  1. You will see a list of Google Cloud Printers defined on your account as shown in Figure 8--Fed Ex Office and Google Docs are standard destinations that are part of the service. You can add printers through the dialogs for cloud-ready and classic printers on the left.
  2. Select the “Manage printer” button highlighted in the lower right corner.
  3. You will see a list of printers like the one in Figure 9. Highlight one to share with your main user ID and other users and press “Share” as shown in Figure 10.
  4. Figure 11 shows the panel where you will see a list of Google users that are authorized to print to your cloud printer. You can add additional Google users in the box at the bottom and press “share”
Figure 7. Google Cloud Print landing page where “Try it now” button leads you to the configuration panel.
Figure 7.  Google Cloud Print landing page where “Try it now” button leads you to the configuration panel
Figure 8. Google Cloud Print list of printers defined for your account, with “Manage printers” button in lower right.
Figure 8.  Google Cloud Print list of printers defined for your account, with “Manage printers” button in lower right
Figure 9. Google Cloud Print configuration menu, with options to define cloud ready and traditional printers in menu at left.
Figure 9.  Google Cloud Print configuration menu, with options to define cloud ready and traditional printers in menu at left
Figure 10. Google Cloud Print configuration where a printer has been selected for configuration of sharing options.
Figure 10.  Google Cloud Print configuration where a printer has been selected for configuration of sharing options
Figure 11. Google Cloud Print configuration of users authorized to print to this cloud printer. Email addresses of new users can be entered in dialog box below.
Figure 11.  Google Cloud Print configuration of users authorized to print to this cloud printer.  Email addresses of new users can be entered in dialog box below

Printing to a Google Cloud Printer from within Chrome

Printing to a Google Cloud Printer can be easy or infuriating. Anything that you can view in Chrome browser is easy to print on a cloud printer To print from other applications, you will need additional software.

To print within Chrome browser

  1. Log in to Google
  2. Select “Print” for the page that you want to print
  3. Select the “Change” button for the printer destination as shown in Figure 12
  4. Select one of your Google Cloud Print printers as shown at the bottom of Figure 13.
  5. Figure 12. Chrome browser print dialog.
    Figure 12.  Chrome browser print dialog
    Figure 13. Selecting a Google Cloud Printer from within the Chrome browser print dialog
    Figure 13.  Selecting a Google Cloud Printer from within the Chrome browser print dialog

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