Tip of the Day Blog
    The Web

Easy Ways to Print Over the Network or Internet

4 Easy Ways to Remotely Print Over the Network or Internet


Remote printing doesn’t have to be hard, whether you want to print to a printer down the hall or half-way around the world. We’ll cover some simple ways you can print without being directly connected to your printer.

We’re going to focus on the easiest options here. We’re won’t cover setting up the Internet Printing Protocol (IPP) or JetDirect and allowing it through your firewall or complicated Windows networking configurations, as these are options best-suited for the IT Professional.

Get a Wireless Printer

Even if you still print, you don’t need a separate printer connected to every computer in your house. Many new printers are network printers that can connect to your network via Wi-Fi. Once connected, you install the appropriate driver software on each computer and all the computers can print to that printer over the network.

Unlike sharing a local printer with Windows, you don’t have to leave the main computer on — as long as the printer is on, you can print directly to it.

These printers only allow you to print to them over the local network, so you’ll need some other tricks if you want to print to them over the Internet.

Share a Printer on Your Local Network

Windows makes it easy to share printers between computers on your local network. This is ideal if you have local printer that connects to your computer via USB. Once you set up printer sharing, the printer will function almost like a networked printer. As long as the computer the printer is connected to is powered on, any other authorized computer on the network can print to it.

The easiest way to do this on Windows 7 or Windows 8 is with the Homegroup feature. Simply set up a Homegroup and check the Printers option to share your connected printers. Join your other computers to the Homegroup and they’ll see the networked printer appear in their list of available printers, assuming the computer sharing the printer is online.

As with standard networked printers, this only works over the local network. You can share printers between computers that aren’t on the same Homegroup, but it’s easier to just use a Homegroup.

Access Remote Printers With Google Cloud Print

Google Cloud Print is Google’s remote-printing solution. Many new printers include built-in support for Google Cloud Print. If a printer doesn’t include Cloud Print support, you can make it available via Google Cloud Print by setting up Google Cloud Print in Google Chrome.

Once a printer is configured to work with Google Cloud Print, it’s associated with your Google account. You can then remotely access the printer with your Google account credentials. You can also share one of your printers with another Google account, so you can allow other people to remotely print to your computer as easily as if you were sharing a file with them via Google Drive.

Up until recently, Google Cloud Print has been a bit of a novelty. Google Chrome includes support for Cloud Print, and you can use Cloud Print apps on iOS and Android to remotely print to Cloud Print printers. However, Google recently launched a Google Cloud Printer service for the Windows desktop. Install it and Google Cloud Print will be available in the standard print dialog, so you can remotely print to Cloud Print printers from Microsoft Office or any other desktop app.

For printing over the Internet, Google Cloud Print offers the most polished experience and easiest setup experience for average users.

Use a VPN to Access Printers on Remote Networks

If you want to access standard network printers or printers shared via Windows networking when you’re away from the local network, you can use a virtual private network, or VPN. Connect to a VPN and your computer will create a secure tunnel to the VPN server on the remote network. All your traffic will be sent over this tunnel, so your computer will behave as if it were connected to the remote network. This means that locally shared printers, as well as other network resources like Windows file shares, will be accessible.

Once your computer is connected to the VPN, the printer will be available and you can print to it just as if you were on the same local network. Many businesses networks set up VPNs so their employees can remotely connect to the business network, so you may already be able to do this with your existing VPN connection.

Setting up your own VPN is more complicated than using Google Cloud Print, but it can be done. Windows includes hidden support for setting up a VPN server. Hosting your own VPN server isn’t ideal for security — it’s easier to just use Google Cloud Print if you don’t want to worry as much about security.

There are a wide variety of other different ways to print remotely. For example, some networked printers may be able to accept documents at an email address and automatically print all documents that arrive at that address. Some may work with Bluetooth or Apple’s AirPrint to accept print jobs wirelessly.

4 Easy Ways to Remotely Print Over the Network or Internet



8 Clever Uses for Your Smartphone’s Camera (Aside From Taking Pictures)


Sure, your smartphone’s camera can be used for photos and video chats, but it can do much more than that. Your phone’s camera is a powerful tool you can use for everything from finding better prices to navigation and translation.

Your smartphone’s camera is a full-fledged input device that makes all sorts of creative apps possible. The apps mentioned below are just examples — there are a variety of different apps that do all of these things.

Look At Products in Person and Buy Them Online

There are a lot of good reasons to look at products in-person before buying them, but online shopping can be much cheaper. If you’re in a store, you can use an app on your smartphone to scan a product’s barcode, instantly looking it up.

Amazon offers one such app — scan a barcode with the Price Check by Amazon app and you’ll be able to quickly locate the product on Amazon and purchase it online if it’s cheaper. If you’re at a store that price-matches Amazon or other retailers, this can even help you save money while buying the product in-store.

Translate Foreign Language Text

Have you ever been in a foreign country and needed to translate some printed text? These days, that probably involves typing the foreign-language text into your smartphone or laptop and using something like Google Translate to translate it for you.

However, there’s a better way — if you’re using Google Translate, you can use the camera function to snap a picture of the text. Google Translate can use optical character recognition (OCR) to automatically interpret the text and translate it for you. it’s not perfect, but it can work surprisingly well and is faster than typing in words you don’t recognize.

Augmented Reality Tricks

“Augmented reality” is a new buzzword, but a fairly simple concept. With an augmented reality app, your smartphone captures a live picture from its camera and uses its software to interpret the image and modify it. Most augmented reality apps show you a live video from your camera, overlaying the image of reality with things that aren’t actually there.

For example, IKEA’s Catalog app now allows you to use augmented reality to picture how a piece of Ikea furniture would look in your home, although you need the paper catalog to do this properly.

Pinpoint Nearby Locations

These apps can also be used to pinpoint nearby locations. For example, the Monocle feature in Yelp’s app can display markers for nearby businesses via augmented reality, pointing the direction to them and showing you exactly where they are without any need for a map. Other apps like Wikitude and Layar function similarly.

Augmented reality apps have struggled to find real-world use cases, although they do make all sorts of cool things possible.

Visual Search

Many search apps allow you to snap a photo from your camera and use it to perform a search. For example, if you snapped a photo of a product, you would see information about the product. If you snapped a photo of a tourist attraction, you’d see information about the attraction. These visual search apps generally aren’t the most useful ways to search, but they’re an interesting application of technology and may be more useful in the future. On Android, Google Goggles offers an official Google visual search experience.

Scan and OCR Documents

You can use your smartphone’s camera as a scanner for receipts and other documents you come across. If you use the correct apps, you won’t just be taking photos — the apps will perform OCR to analyze the text and convert it into a searchable PDF. You won’t get the same image quality you would with a flatbed scanner, but this is a much faster, on-the-go way to scan documents.

Scan QR Codes

Smartphone cameras can also be used to scan the QR codes you see all over the place, from business windows and flyers to advertisements on the street. QR codes generally aren’t particularly useful, but they’re certainly widespread. Most QR codes simply take you to an associated website.

There are other, more clever ways to use QR codes. For example, the Google Authenticator app uses QR codes to quickly input your credentials, while AirDroid uses QR codes to quickly authenticate with your phone without entering a password — just scan the code on your screen with the phone and you’re good to go.

Build a Security Camera

If you have an old Android phone lying around, we’ve shown you how to turn it into a networked security camera.  It’s a cheap, customizable, and do-it-yourself geeky solution. Phones can be even more customizable than traditional Wi-Fi cameras when it comes to the software.

Smartphones are just pocket-size computers, so it’s no surprise that they can do way more with a camera than traditional digital cameras or feature phones. It’s the software that makes this all possible.


NumberING Lines in the Margins

How to Number Lines in the Margins in Word 2013


If you write a lot of legal documents or other types of documents in which you need to reference specific sections, adding line numbers can be useful. We will show you how to add unobtrusive line numbers in the left margin of a Word document.

Open your Word document and click the Page Layout tab on the ribbon.

In the Page Setup section of the Page Layout tab, click Line Numbers and select Line Numbering Options from the drop-down menu.

On the Page Setup dialog box, click the Layout tab. Then, click Line Numbers.

The Line Numbers dialog box displays. Select the Add line numbering check box so there is a check mark in the box. Specify the number to Start at, the increment to Count by, the distance From text, and whether to number continuously or restart at each page or section. Click OK.

Click OK on the Page Setup dialog box to close it.

You can easily change the options or turn off the numbering when it’s not needed.

How to Number Lines in the Margins in Word 2013


SyncING Files Between Computers Without Storing in the Cloud

How to Sync Files Between Computers Without Storing Them in the Cloud


So you have multiple computers and you want to keep your files in sync, but you don’t want to store them on someone else’s servers. You’ll want a service that synchronizes files directly between your computers.

With such a service, you can synchronize an unlimited amount of files and people can’t gain access to your files just by gaining access to an account on a server and viewing the files via the web interface.

We’re focused on syncing files over the network here — either over a local network or the Internet. We’re looking for Dropbox-style solutions that don’t store files on a central server like Dropbox does.

BitTorrent Sync

BitTorrent Sync uses BitTorrent to transfer files — in private and in encrypted form, so no one can snoop on them. Just install it, select a folder, and generate a secret. Provide that secret to anyone — either another computer you own or a friend you would like to sync files with — and your folder will be automatically kept in sync across all configured PCs. This happens directly — either over a local network or over the Internet — using the powerful and fast BitTorrent technology.

BitTorrent Sync offers clients for Windows, Mac, and Linux, so you can use it to sync your files with computers running any popular operating system. Unlike many other services, its features are completely free and it doesn’t require you run a separate server.


AeroFS is free, assuming you don’t need its more advanced features. It creates a Dropbox-like folder on your computer and files sync automatically between the computers you set up. You can share each folder with one additional person, but you’ll need the paid version to share with additional people after that. It doesn’t use BitTorrent and relies on a user account system — there’s a central server that manages user accounts and sharing, but files aren’t hosted on AeroFS’s servers. They’re only stored on your computers. AeroFS promises that it “can’t even see your file names.”

Its interface is very similar to Dropbox’s, even down to the tour that appears when you install it. It’s a very Dropbox-like solution, but it skips the cloud so you can sync unlimited files. Like Dropbox, it supports Windows, Mac, and Linux.


LogMeIn’s Cubby offers cloud storage, but it also offers a “DirectSync” feature. DirectSync allows you to synchronize an unlimited number of files directly between computers, skipping the cloud. Microsoft’s Windows Live Mesh used to do this, but Live Mesh has been discontinued. Cubby is available for both Windows and Mac OS X; there’s no Linux support.

You will have to create an account, and cloud storage is enabled by default in Cubby. While DirectSync was previously free when we recommended it as an alternative to Windows Live Mesh, DirectSync is now a paid feature. Unless you really love Cubby, you’re probably better off with another solution.

Roll Your Own Server

These are the two biggest options. However, these aren’t the only ways to sync files directly between your own computers. There are other options you have, although those solutions aren’t as easy to use and will require more manual configuration:

  • SparkleShare: SparkleShare is an open-source Dropbox-like file syncing solution. The only difference is that you host it yourself. You could host Sparkleshare on one of your computers or on a server you have access to and get Dropbox-like syncing that’s entirely under your control.
  • rsync: rync isn’t an instant syncing solution, but it can be used to run automatic incremental backups to a server. You could run a nightly rsync job and sync your files to an FTP server.

There are many other options you can use. Anything with a self-hosted server component or any sort of solution that automatically creates incremental backups and uploads to a remote server will do, but you’ll have to host your own server software in both cases. Solutions like BitTorrent Sync and AeroFS are the most convenient because they’re not made to require a separate server — they just run on your existing computers.


Of course, there are a number of disadvantages to doing it this way. You’ll have to ensure you have backup copies of your files, as there’s no central backup copy in the cloud on someone else’s servers. There’s also no way to access these files from your phone or tablet with a mobile app, as you can with the Dropbox, Google Drive, or SkyDrive mobile apps. They’re not stored on a central server the apps can pull from; they’re just automatically synced between your computers.

And, of course, your computers must be powered on at the same time or they won’t be able to sync directly with each other.

In return, you get the ability to sync an unlimited number of files and keep them entirely under your control. It’s up to you which tradeoffs you want to make.

How to Sync Files Between Computers Without Storing Them in the Cloud


Updating Your Desktop Programs

HTG Explains: Do You Need to Worry About Updating Your Desktop Programs?


There was a time when we had to worry about manually updating desktop applications. Adobe Flash and Reader were full of security holes and didn’t update themselves, for example — but those days are largely behind us.

The Windows desktop is the only big software platform that doesn’t automatically update applications, forcing every developer to code their own updater. This isn’t ideal, but developers have now largely stepped up to the plate.

The Important Stuff is Updated Automatically

The most important updates you need to worry about are security updates for particularly vulnerable applications. These include your web browser and browser plug-ins — Flash, Adobe Reader, Java, and so on.

In the past, you had to worry about these. Flash didn’t update itself, nor did Adobe Reader. Browser updates weren’t as automatic, requiring manual intervention to install a new version of Firefox or Internet Explorer. It paid to keep an eye on updates and install them promptly — Flash and Reader weren’t going to update themselves, after all.

Updates are now more seamless. Chrome updates itself in the background, so you don’t have to worry about having the latest version. Firefox followed in Chrome’s lead and updates itself in the background, too. Even Internet Explorer updates itself separately from Windows Update, ensuring users have the latest version.

Adobe Flash checks for updates automatically and alerts you to them, allowing you to install them. If you use Chrome, Chrome handles Flash updates automatically. Adobe Reader also updates itself automatically.

Java is the worst — it only checks for updates once per month by default and has you download an updater that contains junk software like the Ask Toolbar. However, even Java can be set to check for updates more regularly — this is essential if you need to have Java installed. If you don’t need to have Java installed, you should uninstall it now.

Of course, Windows is also capable of automatically updating itself via Windows Update. This process is much more seamless than it was back in the days when users were forced to manually visit the Windows Update website in Internet Explorer to check for and download updates.

Most Applications Have Built-in Updaters

The majority of applications you use have built-in features that check for updates. Whether it’s a virtual machine program like VirtualBox or VMware, a chat program like Skype or Pidgin, or a frequently updated system utility like CCleaner, they’ll check for updates and let you know when there’s a new version. iTunes, Safari, and other Apple programs are updated through Apple Update on Windows.

Most games now automatically update themselves, too, especially if they’re purchased through an online storefront like Steam or Origin. You don’t need to hunt down patches on websites unless you’re installing an old game from a disc you have lying around.

Software Without Built-in Updaters

So where does that leave us — which applications don’t automatically update themselves?

  • Hardware Drivers: The hardware drivers your manufacturer provides don’t automatically check for new versions. This is good — you shouldn’t be updating your drivers regularly. The big exception is that gamers should update their graphics drivers — but NVIDIA and AMD include updaters that handle this.
  • Older Software: If you still depend on an application that you purchased on a disc a decade ago, it probably doesn’t have a built-in updater. You may have to manually hunt down patches for old games and other software that you install from a disc. However, such outdated applications won’t be getting regular updates, anyway.
  • Miscellaneous Utilities: There’s a good chance you have some utilities installed that don’t automatically check for updates. For example, the 7-Zip file archiver and WinDirStat disk usage statistics viewer don’t check for updates. But, let’s be honest — you don’t really need the latest version of 7-Zip or WinDirStat. They aren’t updated frequently, new versions won’t introduce exciting new features, and it’s doubtful there will be any security vulnerabilities you’ll need to worry about. The same goes for most other applications you have installed that don’t automatically update themselves.

App Update Checkers Aren’t That Great

Knowing that some applications don’t automatically update themselves and being aware that manual updates for everything from Flash and Adobe Reader to Windows itself were once necessary, you may be tempted to use an application that checks for updates for your installed applications and alerts you to them.

There are several software updater checkers you could use, such as Secunia PSI, which is focused on ensuring you have up-to-date applications with no security holes.

It would be great if there was one application that handled updates for all your installed applications on Windows. You wouldn’t have to worry about being out-of-date or using twenty different updaters. However, these third-party utilities will never be that one tool. They’ll never handle all of your installed applications. They aren’t necessary for your most important applications — your browser, plug-ins, and other software that’s updated on a frequent basis will update itself.

These tools could theoretically be useful for handing updates for lesser-known utilities and ancient games that need patches after you install them, but they generally don’t handle that sort of thing. Secunia PSI can be useful as a way of quickly seeing if a computer has up-to-date versions of its browser and plug-ins installed, but it’s not something you need to update your desktop programs.

We’d love a centralized updating solution for Windows, but no third-party can deliver it — Microsoft would have to deliver it themselves. There’s no practical reason to use such a tool or regularly check websites for updates. Just ensure your applications are set to automatically update themselves — they should be by default — and don’t worry about it.

Of course, everyone uses different software. It’s possible you use an application that does need regular, manual updates. You’re stuck updating it on your own in that case — it’s unlikely a third-party updating tool would help.

Page 1 ... 3 4 5 6 7 ... 213 Next 5 Entries »