Deploy Printers Automagically Using Group Policy

In Windows Vista, 7 and 8 we can deploy printers to client workstations automatically using Group Policy Preferences (GPP).  This allows us to assign printers to users based on department or group membership and update printer drivers etc. without having to reconfigure client computers.  This blogpost will illustrate a basic deployment of a shared printer from a Windows 2008 print server to Windows 7 clients.

To keep things simple we’ll start with a printer that we’ve installed on our print server, set sharing permissions on and published to active directory.  Here’s our printer, ‘Main Copier – UFR II’ and we’re going to deploy this as the default printer for all users in the logistics department.

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For the purposes of this tutorial we’ll assume that we already have an organisational structure in place and all the users that we want to deploy the printer to are in the Organisational Unit (OU) ‘Logistics’.  Open the Group Policy Management Console, right-click on the target OU and select ‘Create a GPO in this domain and Link it here’.  Enter a descriptive name for the new GPO:

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Open the GPO for editing and drill down to User Configuration > Preferences > Control Panel Settings > Printers and right-click in the empty space and select New > Shared Printer:

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You can then browse for the printer and select what action to take (Create / Replace / Update / Delete).  Full details of these settings here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc732092.aspx.  Now you can close the group policy editor and log onto a computer as a member of the Logistics department and verify that the printer gets automatically created correctly.

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Bootnotes:

  • One very common problem is that the printer installation requires a driver to be installed which requires UAC elevation and thus fails when run at login.  You will see error 0x80070bcb in the GPresult.html file.  For your convenience investigate Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Printers > Point and Print Restrictions:

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  • Example of UAC prompt before configuring settings above:

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