Deploy printers using group policy

I should say that this is for a mixed environment. It was such a pain for me to figure this out because we have machines running Windows XP and some machines running Windows 7. Some parts of the policies are ignored by the Windows 7 machines if I do manage group policy on our Server 2003 DC so I had to figure out how to do get this going on Server 2008 and find the settings that would work for both operating systems.

I’ve recently deployed new computers and cascaded the computers that were replaced down to other locations to get rid of the really old ones. I really hated having to install all the printers under every single user account so I decided to look into how to configure group policy to deploy them. My office is small enough that I can deploy all the printers to every user and not have to worry about separating them by OU. They can set the default printers themselves. As long as I don’t have to deal with installing them every time we replace a computer or every time we get an Intern, I’ll be happy.

We have one Server 2008 box with the rest being Server 2003. Since half of our workstations are Windows 7 I’ll be using Server 2008 to configure and deploy group policy. One thing you’re going to want to make sure of is that all the workstations have the group policy preference client side extensions. You’ll need them for any machines that are running Windows XP or Vista. You can also select the client side extensions when you look at the optional updates on the Windows Update site. I really hope you don’t have any machines running Vista. I thought I installed them on Windows 7 too, but I just looked and apparently it wasn’t necessary.

These steps will allow you to manage printers from your server 2008 box without actually making it a print server.

  • Go to server management, either through administrative tools menu or just type it into the search bar.
  • Click on features and then add features on the right.
  • Find remote server administration tools and expand that list, expand role administration tools. Then find print services tools and check the box. Go through the installation, it does not require a reboot, but it does take its sweet time finishing.

  • Now you can go to print management and select the server(s) you want as the print server(s). I removed the local server since I just want to use this server as the manager.
  • After you’ve added the servers you’ll see them in the left panel.  Click on the appropriate server, click on printers and from here you’ll select which printers to deploy using group policy by right-clicking on the printer and selecting deploy using group policy.
  • In the window that pops up, go to browse and find the policy you want to assign the printer to. Check the box for either a per user setup or per computer. I don’t really know the pros and cons, but the way our policies are set up it’s easier for me to select per user.

  • Make sure you click the add button below that to make it show up in the bottom area. I kept hitting OK and then wondering why there wasn’t some sort of confirmation, duh. I made the mistake of starting to configure this before I had my coffee this morning. After you hit OK or apply, it will hopefully say it was successfully assigned.

Since my users do not have admin privileges on their machines I need to find a way to allow the drivers for the printers to install without prompting for admin credentials. There are a couple places on the group policy you need to go to for this setting so that it takes effect for both Windows 7 and Windows XP machines.

  • Computer configuration -> policies -> windows settings -> security settings -> local policies -> security options -> Devices: Prevent users from installing printer drivers: Disabled

Some people may not want to uncheck that box, but after having to go down the hall to type my credentials in so many times, I’m fine with it.

  • The other location is user configuration -> policies -> administrative templates -> control panel -> printers -> point and print restrictions: enabled

  • Make sure the top 2 boxes are unchecked and select “do not show warning or elevation prompt” and “show warning only” for the drop down lists.

After all this the printers should install for all users or computers, depending on how you assigned them. I’m hoping it’ll stop me from getting phone calls about having to enter my credentials in for the Windows 7 machines.

I just had someone test it for me by logging into a Windows 7 machine they hadn’t logged into before and it worked. I watched the printers pop up under devices and printers without prompting for admin credentials. This will save me so much time.

Sources:

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  1. #1 by PeteLong on August 16, 2011 - 3:17 AM

    You can use GPP now, Here’s some more information that might be helpful,

    Deploying Printers with Group Policy Preferences

    Pete
    PeteNetLive

  1. Deploy printers | Kerriganmeats

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