Subtly, quietly and in a gradual way, printing has become one of Chrome OS’ real strengths. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to print items for my Mac or Windows friends because a driver or setting just wouldn’t work for them. Just a few years ago, that would never have been the case. Since printing on Chrome OS really started getting proper attention, however, the issues that used to plague Chromebooks surrounding printing have all but disappeared in 2019.
For the most part, I never really think all that much about whether I can or cannot print any longer. Unless we’re dealing with a very, very old printer, my Chromebook usually recognizes networked printers with ease, gets the drivers needed to talk to that printer quietly and in the background, and spits out my printed pages when I ask it to. Despite that slow and steady improvement in performance over time, the UI for how you print hasn’t really changed at all over the years. That is changing, now.
What we’re looking at is a Material Design overhaul of the UI for the print preview screen, but no loss of functionality. The old print preview screen popped up and covered everything on your display while this new iteration is much smaller, refined, and sleek. Additionally, you get to see what page you were on in the background too, so the transition to the print screen isn’t quite as jarring. Check out the difference below.
Though this new feature is available in Chrome OS 76, it is unclear whether or not it will show up in the Chrome OS 76 update we’re expecting in the next few days without being hidden behind a flag. If you’d like to give it a look now, you’ll need to head to the Beta Channel to get Chrome OS 76. If you choose to wait a few days for the Stable Channel update, you’ll likely be able to check it out there as well. Either way, you will need to enable this flag: chrome://flags/#enable-new-print-preview-layout
Overall, this refined UI is appealing and a breath of fresh air in an area of Chrome OS that has been quite stagnant for quite a few years. With the Material Design look and feel, the whole printing process feels more up to date and inline with Google’s newer design philosophies we’re seeing across more devices and more parts of Chrome OS in general. Will this help you print more efficiently or be more productive? Not really. Everything on screen will just look better as you do so.