How to Deploy Printers using Group Policy (GPO)

During a time when digitalisation dominates commercial establishments and businesses get more and more comfortable with wireless sharing, cloud computing, and smart devices, printing out data on paper might seem to be obsolete. However, as you probably are aware, even now, many businesses rely heavily on printers for various reasons. There were times when one printer was directly connected to a computer via a USB cable and was only accessible from that particular workstation. However, there are ways to set and implement protocols for user accounts and computers in an Active Directory environment. This is where you can make use of a Group Policy (GPO).

how to deploy printers using group policy

Deploying Printers via Group Policy

The preferred printer setup in today’s office environment is deploying printers via Group Policy. Here, a network of computers assigned to a workgroup can access a printer server at the same time, without a physical connection to the network and without needing any additional software. A group policy controls the working environment of users in an Active Directory and not only provides a centralized point to manage but also configures operating systems, updates applications and users’ settings and so on.

For instance, when a user in a specific Active Directory logs in, using Group Policy you can decide which network connected printer should appear on the list of available printers. Another benefit of Group Policies is an increased level of security from threats, both internal and external.

Deploy and Install Printers using Group Policies

There are two ways you can install and deploy printers in a Group Policy setting:

 

  • Computer Configuration – Using Group Policy to deploy settings to computers, i.e., per machine.
  • User Configuration – Using Group Policy to deploy settings to users, i.e., per user.

Deploying a printer to a specific computer or machine will enable all users to use the printer only via the specific computer. On the other hand, deploying a printer to a user will enable the user to access it from anywhere he logs in through.

Before you get your printers ready using Group Policy, you may need to make sure that the print server and group policy are installed.

Install a Windows Print Server

  • Go to ‘Server Manager’.
  • On the Dashboard, click ‘Manage’ and on the drop down menu click ‘Add roles and features’.
  • Click ‘Next’.
  • Select the ‘Installation Type’ and click ‘Next’.
  • Select the destination server from ‘Server Selection’ and click ‘Next’.
  • To select the ‘Server Roles’, check the box against ‘Print and Document Services’.
  • On the ‘Add Roles and Features Wizard’, click ‘Add Features’.
  • Click ‘Next’.
  • To select ‘Features’, click ‘Next’.
  • To select ‘Print and Document Services’, click Next.
  • Note: If your device has the option to also manage scan servers, internet printers or LPD services for UNIX, you will have to install ‘Distributed Scan Server’ and verify if your device is compatible. Select the ‘Role Services’ to install for Print and Document Services and click ‘Next’.
  • Click ‘Install’ to confirm installation selections.
  • Click ‘Close’ to finish the installation wizard.
  • This completes the installation of the print server.
install Windows Print Server

Configure Print Server

  • Go to ‘Server Manager’.
  • On the Dashboard, click ‘Tools’ and on the drop down menu click ‘Print Management’.
  • Double click on ‘Print Severs’. The installed printer server is listed.
  • Click on ‘Forms’ and check the forms available. To create a form, click on ‘More Actions’, then click on ‘Manage Forms’ and click on ‘Create a New Form’. Put in the Form descriptions and click ‘OK’.
  • Click on ‘Ports’, right click on the port, and add in the port settings to configure the port. Click ‘OK’.
configure print server

Install Group Policy Management

Login to one of your domain controllers. You most probably have Group Policy Management already installed, if not follow these steps:

 

  • Go to ‘Server Manager’.
  • On the Dashboard, click ‘Manage’ and on the drop down menu click ‘Add roles and features’.
  • Click ‘Next’.
  • Select the ‘Installation Type’ and click ‘Next’.
  • Select the destination server from ‘Server Selection’ and click ‘Next’.
  • Skip the ‘Server Roles
  • Select ‘Features’ check the box against ‘Group Policy Management’.
  • Click ‘Next’.
  • Click ‘Install’ to confirm installation selections.
  • Click ‘Close’ to finish the installation wizard.
  • This completes the installation of the group policy.
group policy

Create a GPO for Printer Deployment

On your domain controller:

 

  • Go to ‘Server Manager’.
  • On the Dashboard, click ‘Tools’ and on the drop down menu click ‘Group Policy Management’.
  • Right clickGroup Policy Objects’ and choose ‘New
  • To create an unlinked GPO, enter a suitable name in the new group policy object field.
  • Select an existing GPO and Link the GPO to the domain by clicking on ‘Link an existing GPO’.
  • Select ‘Printers’ on the Group Policy Objects and click ‘OK’.
  • The GPO is now linked and is applied to all users and/or computers. However, this depends on the choice you make later in Print Management. It can be either ‘per user’ or ‘per machine’. Close ‘Group Policy Management’.
Create Printer GPO

Deploy Printer using Group Policy

Back on your Print Server:

 

  • Go to ‘Print Management’, click on ‘Printers’ and right click on the printer you want to deploy and choose ‘Deploy with Group Policy’.
  • Depending on the setting you need, check either the ‘The users that the GPO applies to (per user)’ or ‘The computers that the GPO applies to (per machine)’.
  • Note: You can either deploy the printer connection to a ‘per user’ setting or to a ‘per machine’ setting. This depends on your work environment. For instance, if your users have individual work stations and they are the only user on that device, you could check the ‘per user’ box. Once applied, you never need to apply the ‘per user’ setting again. Also, the ‘per user’ setting offers more flexibility when it comes to printer specific settings, such as the ‘Make default printer’ setting is available in ‘per user’ setting. On the other hand, if you have a working environment where there are many different users who would use many different workstations, you can choose the ‘per machine’ setting. The ‘per machine’ GPO is faster than the ‘per user’.
  • Click ‘Browse’.
  • In the ‘Browse for a Group Policy Object’, select ‘Printers’ and then click ‘OK’.
  • The GPO Printers is now listed. Depending on your work environment, check ‘The users that this GPO applies to (per users)’ or ‘The computers that the GPO applies to (per machine)’ box and click ‘Add’.
  • You will see that the printer name is now listed. Click ‘OK’.
  • In the ‘Print Management’ box, click ‘OK’.
  • In the ‘Deploy with Group Policy’ box, click ‘OK’.
  • If you click on the ‘Deployed Printers’ under ‘Print Management’, you will find the name of the printer listed. The printer has been deployed using group policy.
Deploy the printer connection

Some of the settings that can be configured under user configuration

  • Users cannot delete local and network printers.
  • Users cannot add local and network printers.

Some of the settings that can be configured under computer configuration

  • Enables or disables the publishing of printers in the directory.
  • Controls whether the print spooler will accept client connections.
  • Determines whether the domain controller can delete the printers from Active Directory that are published by this computer.
  • Automatically publish new printers in the Active Directory.
  • Add customized support URLs for the server.
  • Enable location tracking.
Avatar for Vikas Varier
Vikas Varier

I am a technical content writer based in Sydney. My passion is writing about networking technologies, security, Microsoft server technology, Azure and Office365.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x