Managing network printers

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Managing network printers

To create a secure and effective network printing environment, you must consider variables such as what client operating systems are used on your network, what printing permissions you want to assign to different users, and what procedures you will use to manage the printers once they are connected to the network. The easiest way to connect and manage network printers is through Active Directory. You can also use Group Policy to change the default behavior of the printing environment and to provide computers and users a standard set of preferences.

Some of the most common tasks are publishing a printer in Active Directory, remotely managing printers, setting Group Policy for printers, and setting or removing permissions for a printer. You can also manage network printers from the Managing printing from the command line. For more information about other tasks for managing network printers, see Printing How To....

To publish a printer in Active Directory

  1. Open Printers and Faxes.

  2. Right-click the printer you want to publish, and then click Sharing.

  3. On the Sharing tab, click Share this printer, and then type a name for the shared printer.

  4. Select the List in the Directory check box to publish the printer in Active Directory.


  • To open Printers and Faxes, click Start, and then click Printers and Faxes.

  • Only a shared printer can be published. If you stop sharing a printer, the printer is no longer published.

  • If you add a printer using the Add Printer Wizard and click Share this printer, the printer will be published by default if the Group Policy settings Automatically publish new printers in Active Directory and Allow printers to be published are enabled, as they are by default.

  • You must open Active Directory Users and Groups to publish printers that are managed through print servers that are running Windows NT 4.0 or an earlier operating system.

  • Printers you add using the Add Printer Wizard are shared by default if you add them from a computer running a product in the Windows Server 2003 family. However, printers are not shared by default if you add them using the Add Printer Wizard from a computer running Windows XP.

  • You must have the Manage Printers permission for the printer you want to share or to publish.

  • You can create printer names that contain spaces, special characters, and more than eight characters. However, some clients do not recognize or correctly handle such names. The entire qualified name of a shared printer (for example \\PRINTER2\PSCRIPT) must contain 32 or fewer characters.

To remotely manage printers

  1. Double-click My Network Places, and then locate the print server for the printers you want to manage.

  2. Double-click the print server, double-click the Printer folder icon on that server, and then click a printer.


    • To facilitate stronger network security, remote printer management is not available by default. To enable remote printer management, in Group Policy, you must enable the Allow Print Spooler to Accept Client Connections policy.
  3. Change the print server, printer, or printing preference settings as required.


  • You can change printer settings only if you have Manage Printers permission.

  • If you are having trouble finding your printer and you are logged on to a Windows Server 2003 domain, you can find your printer by clicking Start, pointing to Search, and then clicking Printers.

  • You can also drag the Printers and Faxes folder of any print server (or specific printers from any Printers and Faxes folder) to the Printers and Faxes folder on your computer. This is an easy way to manage any printer without having to search for it.

To set Group Policy for printers

  1. Start Group Policy according to the object you want to set printer policy to.

  2. After selecting the properties page of the object you want to set printer policy to, select the Group Policy node.

    • If you want to set policies that apply only to computers, expand the Computer Configuration node, and then expand Administrative Templates.

    • If you want to set policies that apply only to users, expand the User Configuration node, expand Administrative Templates, and then expand Control Panel.

  3. Double-click Printers to open a listing of policies.

  4. Double-click the printer policy you want to set.

  5. On the Policy tab, enable or disable the policy by selecting or clearing the appropriate radio button. With some policies, you might need to enter additional information.


  • If you do not want to change the current state of the policy setting, leave it as it is (not configured) to save processing time.

To set or remove permissions for a printer

  1. Open Printers and Faxes.

  2. Right-click the printer for which you want to set permissions, click Properties, and then click the Security tab.

  3. Do one of the following:

    • To change or remove permissions from an existing user or group, click the name of the user or group.

    • To set up permissions for a new user or group, click Add. In Select Users, Computers, or Groups, type the name of the user or group you want to set permissions for, and then click OK to close the dialog box.

  4. In Permissions, click Allow or Deny for each permission you want to allow or deny, if necessary. Or, to remove the user or group from the permissions list, click Remove.


  • To change device settings, you must have the Manage Printers permission. For information about printing security permissions, see Assigning printer permissions.

  • To open Printers and Faxes, click Start, and then click Printers and Faxes.

  • To view or change the underlying permissions that make up Print, Manage Printers, and Manage Documents, click the Advanced button.

  • A printer must be shared in order for the permission settings to affect the users and groups listed.

  • You can also view the permissions assigned to you by clicking the group you belong to on the Security tab. For information on finding out what group you belong to, see Identify members of a local group.

Information about functional differences

  • Your server might function differently based on the version and edition of the operating system that is installed, your account permissions, and your menu settings. For more information, see Viewing Help on the Web.