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Adding printers to Windows 7 machines via GPO

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by , 31st January 2011 at 01:12 PM (33415 Views)
As I've just spent a few hours getting this sorted, I thought I would share my experience in blog form in the hope that someone finds it useful.

First up, I should point out that much of this blog can be found at the following link, and it also adds a cool way of adding printeres to specific Active Directory components, such as Groups, OUs or even specific users...

In any case, my goal was to fire out our network printers, and to be able to set up a default printer. The Printer Management function in Server 2008 could do the first, but not the latter. With a bit of searching I found the above link, and all was well. Until it came across my Canon printer in one of our ICT suites, which refused to play ball. Checking the event viewer, it turned out the Canon really wanted to install its drivers before printing, and even when logging in as an Admin, wouldn't install via GPO.

Another quick google search found the answer, disable Point and Print Restrictions via GPO. This, I think, can only be done by a Server 2008 R2 machine, although I'm sure there is a GPO template around somewhere.

In any event, that Printer now works with a student account, the PCs are named something obvious for all the students (as my printer naming convention got a little convuluted) and all is a success (so far). So a quick step by step on how to achieve this, bearing in mind I'm untrained and all this is from google, so attempt at your own risk! Also, all GPOs were created with Server 2008 R2.

First of all, we need to enable loopback processing, as we will be using User preferences to set up the printers. The reason for this is because only by setting printers by users can we set a printer as default. A pain, but there you go. To do this, create a GPO and go to Computer-> Policy -> Admin Templates -> System -> Group Policy -> User Group Policy loopback processing mode = enabled mode = merge

Then, in the same or different GPO, we need to make sure that the workstations use the server drivers, rather than try and pull down the printer driver to each machine. This step may not be necessary for all printers, but I don't think it does any harm either. (Please correct me if I'm wrong!). Go to Computer -> Admin Templates -> Printers -> Point and Print Restrictions = Disabled.

Finally, we go to User -> Preferences -> Control Panel -> Printers -> Add TCP/IP Printer

Enter the Printers IP Address
Give it a local name, I prefer BW Printer or Colour Printer, but whatever you want to students to see the printer as
You can then set it as a default printer if you desire
In Common setting, tick "Remove this item when it is no longer applied" This is optional, but will mean the printer is removed should the PC move OU.
If you want to target the printer to specific AD objects, use the targetting tick box and options. Fairly self explanatory, but I would read the link above just in case.

Once completed, assign the GPO to the OU of choice.


As a general rule, I now assign printers to machines rather than students, as the above method means that printers are installed each time a student logs on, adding arounf 10 seconds to each logon. If I assign it to the PC, it installs on boot, so will only increase login time once, or not at all if the computers are set to wake up automatically before the school day. The downside to this method is not being able to set a default printer, but there's an easy script that will allow for that:

wmic printer where name='PRINTERNAME' call setdefaultprinter
All you need to know is the printer name (the friendly printer name the PC knows it as, so if you installed it via GPO calling it Colour Laser, put 'Colour Laser' in the script), and assign the script to apply to all students logging onto computers in that OU.

Updated 23rd March 2012 at 10:14 AM by simpsonj (Updated method)




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