At the start of this semester I decided it was time for a new home printer. With 2 kids now in high school and 1 in 6th grade, reliable home printing is a necessity rather than a luxury. Our old printer worked fine, but since we now have several Chromebooks in our family laptop mix, I decided it was time to have a Google Cloud Print compatible model. I also wanted to get a printer that would work with AirPrint, in the infrequently likely but possible situation that one of our family members wanted to print something directly from an iPhone or iPad. Both these wireless printing technologies were absent from our slightly old Lexmark USB printer. At a local Staples store, a salesman enthusiastically recommended the Brother MFC-J4420DW Inkjet All-In-One Printer based on these professed needs. At $100, it supports both Google Cloud Print and AirPrint, as well as scanning/faxing (features of less interest to us). The printer cartridges looked like they were in the same price range as our Lexmark, so I went ahead and made the purchase.
After using the printer for several months, including pretty heavy use by our kids for school assignments, I’m generally pleased with it and would recommend it to others. The only frustrating thing that’s happened a couple times, however, and I seem to have finally resolved tonight, is when the Google Cloud Printer configuration mysteriously “goes offline” and stops working on our Chromebooks.
If you turn to Google for answers about this issue, there are plenty of forum posts with titles like “[Google Cloud Print] Keeps saying printer is offline.” Some of the recommended fixes for our problem which I tried unsuccessfully were:
- Configure the printer with a static (instead of dynamic) IP address and register it again with Google Cloud Print
- Disable a second wifi access point which extends the network (the printer may be connected to a different AP than your laptop)
- Update the printer’s firmware (generally a good idea, but in this case not a fix)
- Add the printer as a local device and then refresh your Google Cloud Print Printers
- Delete the Google Cloud Printer and add it again (this is where I got stuck and was unable to add it again)
Here is what finally worked.
UNREGISTER THE PRINTER WITH GOOGLE CLOUD PRINT
After a lot of Googling and trial-and-error, I finally figured out how to “unregister” the printer with Google Cloud Print so I could register it again. As described in Brother’s “Google Cloud Print Guide” (PDF) you can directly connect to your printer from a web browser, using the IP address of the printer. You can view that IP address using the menus on the front of the printer.
Once connected, choose:
- Network (at the top)
- Protocol (in the left sidebar)
- By Google Cloud Print click ADVANCED
- Click the checkbox next to UNREGISTER THIS DEVICE
- Click Submit
Now the printer is no longer registered with Google Cloud Print, and can be registered again like a new device. For some reason, however, I was NOT able to register it again successfully using the printer’s IP address/browser configuration settings. Once you click REGISTER you have to press OK on the front display of the printer to register it. The process failed, for some reason.
Thanks to Todd Kaufmann’s November 2014 post, “Google Cloud Print — getting offline printers back online (for Chromebook, or other devices)“, I had learned earlier in this troubleshooting saga that I could type the following in the address bar of my Chrome web browser to access the setup and management menus for Google Cloud Print:
When I used this menu, I was able to successfully register my Brother printer again as a Google Cloud Printer. The first attempt failed for some reason, but the second attempt was successful.
Once added again as a Google Cloud Printer, I could again share the printer with my family members (using everyone’s personal Gmail addresses) and they were able to print. Less than 10 minutes after getting this working and successfully test-printing from one of my daughters’ Chromebook, however, again the Google Cloud Printer mysteriously went OFFLINE. It worked for direct printing from my MacBook Air laptop, but not from a Chromebook which had to use Google Cloud Printing.
The solution to quickly getting the Google Cloud Printer back ONLINE was connecting to the Brother printer again using a web browser and its local IP address. Once I did that and viewed the Google Cloud Print ADVANCED settings, it was back online.
When this problem first happened several weeks ago, I thought the problem was the printer’s dynamic IP address. Assigning a static IP and re-registering with Google Cloud Printing didn’t work, however, it still went offline again. I’m hopeful that if it goes offline again, I’ll be able to directly connect to it via IP address and force it back online as a Google Cloud Printer.
If this article proves helpful to you in troubleshooting your own problems with Google Cloud Printing, please let me know with a comment below or by sending a Twitter reply to @wfryer.
Google Cloud Print is a great concept and a workable technology, but apparently there are (as almost always is the case) a few more bugs for developers to work out.
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