Send that print job 500 miles...
This was an interesting find. Ever need to print a photo or document for a distant family member but don't like faxing? Or, maybe you are at work, and you need to print something to your home printer during the day? Perhaps you have a few different computers at home that aren't networked together, but you wish to print to a printer attached locally to one of the computers (and you don't have time to get your personal Geek Squad member out to your house to help you)?
Used to be that you had to network your computers together via a LAN or VPN connection over a WAN in order to share resources. Well, at least when it comes to printing, that isn't the case any longer!
Printer Anywhere is a utility that sits in your system tray which allows you to print over the Internet to another computer (which also has Printer Anywhere installed). What this means is that you no longer have to perform any potentially complex steps to network your computers together in order to share the printer!
You can share a locally attached (connected to your LPT or USB port) or a network printer with ease, pending you have an active Internet connection.
How it works: The computer sending the print job:
When you install Printer Anywhere, a new printer is installed (aptly named 'PrinterAnywhere'). This obviously, is the printer you would send your jobs to. When selected, a dialog box appears, presenting you with some additional options to select before sending the job. Note that you will need to search for the nickname (specified during account registration) or printername in order to select the correct printer to connect to.
If you are concerned about security, you can encrypt your print jobs as well with a username and password so not just anyone can see your job.
How it works: The computer receiving the print job:
The account which is sharing the printer queues up remote print jobs on PrinterAnywhere's servers, not unlike how a print server would do it at the office. When a new job arrives for you to print, you get a pop-up balloon notification that the job has arrived, and when clicked, a screen appears giving you some tasks that you can perform (i.e. print). From this 'Print Job List' dialog, you are given the ability to approve/cancel any pending print requests before they are printed.
What if my PC is turned off or PrinterAnywhere isn't running?
PrinterAnywhere doesn't need to be running in order to receive jobs (perhaps this is why my printer said it was 'online' even though PA wasn't running?). When you open up the program, the software checks the remote PrinterAnywhere server for any queued jobs and shows them as a balloon notification for you.
Also, if you want to redirect the job to a different printer, you can do it with no more than a simple mouse click in the Print Job List dialog.
You can preview jobs, disallow/allow users, set up automatic printing, etc.
While I can't see myself using this utility on a day-to-day basis, I could see how it may be useful for some folks...at least until the Geek Squad shows up to network the home computers ;)
Also, It would be cool to expand this concept a bit more into a 'ShareAnywhere' utility that would allow users to send files via P2P in addition to sending/receiving print jobs...
- Queuing of print jobs is automatic, computer doesn't have to be online
- Simplicity of install. Create an account during the setup - easy!
- Ability to configure paper types, trays, etc. that PrinterAnywhere can print to
- Redirection of print jobs to different printers on receiving system
- Ability to block incoming requests with exception to approved users
- Requires you to close/re-open the console when a new printer is added on a workstation before you can share it. Would be nice to see a 'refresh console' option here - (medium)
- When the shared printer goes offline (i.e. Printer Anywhere is closed), the remote side will still show it as 'online'. This is confusing - (minor)
- Internet is required, even if computers are next to each other. Would like to see a LAN function that doesn't require sending the job to the 'Net