How to Deploy Printers to Users or Computers via Group Policy?

One of the most important features of Group Policies in Active Directory domain environment is the possibility to automatically connect a shared network printers on a group of computers or users with just a few clicks. Thus, when a user login to the Windows, an assigned network printer will automatically appear in the list of available print devices.

Deploy Printers Using GPO

So, this time we will take a look on how to deploy shared network printer connections to users from a specific OU of Active Directory by using Group Policy. In this case, we will use a dedicated host running Windows Server 2012 R2 as a network print server.

Tip. To deploy printer connections using Group Policy, the Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) schema version must be at least Windows Server 2008.

Step 1

Open the Server Manager console and select to install Print and Document Services role (if not already installed).

deploy printer via gpo

From Role services list select to install Print Server service.

printer group policy

Tip. Also you can install Print Server role with management tools using the following PowerShell command:

add-WindowsFeature Print-Server, RSAT-Print-Services

Step 2

After role installation is completed, open the Print Management console from the top menu Server Manager > Tools.

deploy printers group policy server 2016

Now you need to add printers to your print server. Let’s start by installing the drivers.

In the Print Management console, go to the Drivers section and run the Add Driver wizard. Select the type of driver architecture (x64 or x86) and click Next.

gpo printer

On the Printer Driver Selection screen, select the driver for your printer. If the driver you need is not listed, click Have Disk and Browse. Specify the path to the printer inf file. Similarly, install the drivers for all the printers that you want to connect to your print server.

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gpo deploy printer

Select a previously downloaded driver. In our example, this is the universal HP driver, click Next and Finish. Repeat the operation for your other devices. Now the list of installed drivers is displayed in the Print Management console.

deploy printer gpo

Now you can install new printers. Go to the Printers section and select Add Printers from the context menu. The Network Printer Installation Wizard offers you 4 ways to install printers in the Print Management console.

  • Search the network for printers;
  • Add a TCP/IP or Web Services Printer by IP address or hostname;
  • Add a new printer using an existing port;
  • Create a new port and add a new printer.

group policy printer deployment

We selected 2 points (installing the printer by IP address). In the next window you need to specify the type of device (TCP/IP device), and the IP address of your network printer (you can leave the port name by default). Check the box Auto detect the printer driver to use.

gpo printer deployment

Then, from the drop-down list, select the printer driver that you want to install for this device (in this example, HP Universal Printing PCL6).

deploy printers group policy per user

Then enter the printer name, network name, and description. Install all the necessary network printers in the same way.

Step 3

Expand Print Servers > ServerName (local) > Printers, select the printer you want to deploy (HP LaserJet M2727 in our case), right-click on it and select from menu Manage Sharing.

group policy printers

Check the options Share this printer and List in the directory and then click Apply.

deploy printer group policy

Right-click on your printer in Print Management snap-in and choose Deploy with Group Policy.

map printer gpo

Now press Browse.

printer gpo

Using the Domain Browser, you need to locate the OU (organizational unit) on which you want to deploy printer and then click Create a New Group Policy Object button.

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how to deploy printer via gpo

Enter the policy name and click Ok. You can assign the created policy to domain users, computers or both.

  • Per User > this setting assumes that a specific printer is connected on a user desktop, regardless of which computer it is logged on. This is useful if you have a VDI, or each person can use different workstations (for example in a Call center). This policy should not be used if users are distributed across different buildings or office branches. Otherwise, the user will have to take a walk to pick up his documents from the printer.
  • Per Computer > No matter which user is working on the computer, it will always print on a specific printer (all users of a computer can access printer). This printer connection policy is commonly used in large distributed networks.

Since we are linked policy to OU named Managers with only user objects, we need to select The users that this GPO applies to (per user).

printer mapping gpo

The configuration is now completed, just press Apply.

print management deploy with group policy

Step 4

Now open the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC.msc) and find the policy that you created earlier from the Print Management console (ManagersPrinter in our case).

deploy printer with group policy

Check the current policy settings by going to the Settings tab. You can see UNC path of the shared printer in the section User Configuration > Policies > Windows Settings > Printer Connection. This path should contain the name of your print server. For example, lon-prnt01 HP Laser Jet M2727.

gpo printers

Tip. To see Printer Connections node in GPO editor on Windows Server 2008/2012, you need to install RSAT feature Print & Document Services Tool.

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Update the policy settings on the client (gpupdate / force). Next you need to verify if new shared printer HP LaserJet M2727 appeared in the list of connected printers.

Tip. To increase the speed of processing and the applying of Group Policy, disable the use of computer settings on the Details tab (Computer Configuration settings disabled).

gpo add printer

Your policy will automatically assign the HP Laser Jet M2727 printer to all users from selected OU.

You can use AD security groups for fine tune targeting printers to users. Create a new group in AD (for example, mun-managers-hp2727) and add to it all the users to whom you want to assign this printer.

  1. In the GPMC, switch to the ManagersPrinter policy edit mode and go to the section User Configuration > Preferences > Control Panel Settings > Printers;
  2. Find your printer and open its properties;
  3. Enable the option “Run in logged-on user’s security context (user policy option)”;
  4. Enable the option “Item-level Targeting” and click on the button;
    group policy deploy printer
  5. Select New Item > Security Group and specify the group name domainmun-managers-hp2727;
    deploy printers gpo
  6. Save the changes. Now this policy will automatically connect the hp2727 printer only to users from the specified AD group.
Cyril Kardashevsky
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8 comments

  1. Unfortunately, this is not working for me. I followed your instructions on a Windows Server 2012 R2 with Windows 10 Pro and Windows 7 Pro workstations, but the printers were not deployed automatically.
    How can I troubleshoot this?
    TIA,
    Pedro.

    1. Same issue for me, The printer is visible if i search for it in windows 10 but wont automatically install. Did you find a solution?

  2. This worked well for me. Much simpler and faster than method I used in the past. However, in Step 4, editing the GPO, the shared printers do not appear in the Printers Control Panel Preferences:
    “1. In the GPMC, switch to the ManagersPrinter policy edit mode and go to the section User Configuration > Preferences > Control Panel Settings > Printers;
    2. Find your printer and open its properties;”

    The printers still connect to the clients, however.

  3. [I left a comment earlier, perhaps you can combine them.]

    In the last part of step 3, after naming the GPO and applying to the desired OU, the instruction to click the Add button is missing. Until that happens, the Apply button will be unavailable.

    Also, if the tip to disable Computer configuration settings for speedier GPO function will negate the “Per computer…” printer assignment setting that may have previously been chosen.

    Thanks for posting this article. It’s full of good info and really helped me to clean up my printer deployment. I just deployed a new print server this summer and was happy to replace all my unreliable printer GPOs with this simpler method.

  4. ***I think you mix between two different methods:
    -The first method: (Configuration–>Windows Settings–> Deployed Printers) which normally added from the Printer management console.
    -The second method is from (Users Configuration–> Preferences–> Control Panel–> Printers) only can be done from GPMC.msc
    Each method is a done separately!

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