Best Practice Ezine #89 – Printer Location

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Best Practice Ezine #89 – Printer LocationPrinter Location - Challenge

Guy’s Litmus Test: 
Can you configure Printer Locations for your Active Directory domain?

Professionals: Have both the vision of what Printer Locations can achieve and the technical expertise to configure the necessary settings.

Amateurs:  Either cannot see the advantages of Printer Locations, or else cannot find the four different places you need to visit before the job is complete.

Everyone that I have shown this Printer Location plan have expressed a satisfied glow when they completed their tasks and they see the printers pre-populated in the Add printer wizard.  Therefore I lay down a gauntlet and challenge you to master Printer Locations, I guarantee this is mission that you will enjoy accomplishing.  See more on troubleshooting your Windows 8 printer problem

Printer Location Vision

Before we start, here is the most fantastic vision that I can think of for Printer Locations.  Imagine that you are sitting in your office and urgently, you need to send a hard copy of a document to manager in one of your faraway offices in Australia, Paris or Toronto.  You know from bitter experience that if you send an email, the attachment will be gobbled by an over jealous filter; even if the document gets through the technophobe at the other end wont open it.  Yet you want them to attend to your document urgently.  The good news is you know, because they complained to you about it, that they have a LaserJet 2420 printer right by their desk.

What if you could open the Printers and Faxes folder, Select: New printer, Network, Find, Location and then select Australia, Paris or wherever the manager operates?  Lo and behold, there is their LaserJet 2420, you click OK.  Once the printer object arrives in your folder then you can print the urgent document from your workstation and direct the output to that distant LaserJet.  In a minute or two, it will churn out the printed page in the tray of that faraway office.  Now this is not pure fantasy, with a little expertise, the above scenario could become reality.

A more mundane reason for configuring printer locations is for pampering reps or other mobile workers who need to print out documents in whichever of your offices they find themselves.  For these users, when they select New printer, Network, the Location box is already pre-populated with printers on their subnet.  Clever.

Printer Location Configuration

These are the four stages in configuring Printer Locations in your Active Directory domain.

  1. Subnet Location – Fiendishly difficult to understand, find and configure.
  2. Printer Properties – Easy place to find, some use on its own account.
  3. Group Policy – Tricky, unless you are a minor expert on Group Policies.  Bonus you investigate other interesting Printer Policies.
  4. Add Printer Wizard – Client sidePrinter Locations. Subnets, Printers, Group Policy settings

1) Subnet Location

To find this tricky setting, open Active Directory Sites and Services, not repeat not, ADUC.   Next drill down to Sites and then Subnets.  If no suitable subnets appear in the leaf object, then create a New subnet by right-clicking on the yellow Subnets folder.

Once you have a Subnet object with and IP address and CIDR notation for the Subnet mask, then you are ready to create the location.  right-click the IP address ( in my example) and select Properties now seek the Location tab.   Type a suitable name in the dialog box.  In truth, any sensible name will suffice, I choose MD_Office.

2) Printer Properties

Let us assume for testing, that you have printer shared on a local server. HPLaserJet2420 in my example.  Open the properties of that printer.

It easy to find the Location dialog box (General Tab), however the knack is to browse and assign a location from Active Directory (Entire Directory).  Browsing has two advantages, apart from avoiding typos, it confirms that the Subnet location has been created successfully.  If you remember, in my example this value is MD_Office.

3) Group Policy

Here is another tricky path, yet with attention to detail, you will soon find the correct Group Policy.  Pre-Populate printer search location text.  To be sure of success, I would start by editing the Default Domain Policy.  Once you have opened the policy, the crucial choice is Computer Configuration.  Now expand Administrative Templates and you will see the Printers folder.  Eureka!  There is Pre-Populate printer search location text, make sure you remember to enable the policy.

4) Add Printer Wizard (Train the users who need Printer Locations)

We are now all set to put my plan into action.   If possible choose a different machine from the one where the printer is shared.  Open the Printers and Fax folder.  Select Add Printer, Network, Find a printer in the directory, here is the magic moment, the Location dialog box should be pre-populated with your printer. 

The killer feature or missing link for Printer Locations is intelligent users.  If your users are not computer savvy train them with one page sheet explaining how to find the printer once you have played your part by configuring Active Directory and the print servers.

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Summary of Printer Locations

Spend half an hour setting up printer locations, not only will it be one of the most satisfying printer tasks, but also it will benefit your roaming users.  Your mission is to enable users to find printers near them, the key field is Printer Location.

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