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With location-based printing, admins can automatically allow users to select a printer based on their location. In addition, it automates finding a printer with the same network location as the user by looking at its IP address.
It eliminates the need for users to manually select the correct printer every time they print a document. As a result, it is useful for larger organizations with multiple sites and many printers and helps to reduce the burden of helpdesk calls related to printing.
Note the following requirements for configuration:
- For GPOs, clients need to be domain-joined.
- Active Directory Sites and Services must be configured with IP subnet information tagged with locations.
- Printers configured on your Print Server need to have the location information populated.
When clients find printers from the directory, they are presented with the printers at their location.
Configure Active Directory Sites information
One of the prerequisites for ensuring location-based printing works as expected is to configure your Active Directory Sites information along with the location field in AD Sites and Services.
Below, we set the location information for an Active Directory subnet. Clients connected to this subnet will be part of the configured location.
Configure the location of printers on your print server
You also set the printer location on the print server. Make sure you check the box to Publish this printer to the directory. When you click Browse, you should see a list of the locations configured from Active Directory Sites and Services.
Configuring location-based printing with Group Policy
Using the location information stored in Active Directory Sites and Services, we can configure location-based printing for printers on the print server using a GPO:
- Create a new policy or edit an existing one.
- Navigate to Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Templates > Printers.
- Double-click the following policy: Pre-populate printer search location text.
- Set the policy to Enabled.
Once the policy is created, you will want to apply it to all computers in the domain. When a user logs in to a computer, location-based printing automatically selects the correct printer based on their location. It eliminates the need for users to choose a printer manually, reducing the risk of printing errors or choosing a printer in the wrong location.
Testing location-based printing on a client
Below, using a Windows 10 workstation, we navigate to the Devices and Printers configuration page. Click Add Printer. Select Find a printer in the directory based on location or feature.
When selected, the Find Printers dialog box automatically displays the printers at the user's current location based on the IP subnet configured for the user client. If no defaults are changed, the Find Printers dialog box returns the correct location based on the client's subnet and displays the printer configured in that location.
Location-based printing offers the administrative tools needed to configure printers in the same location as clients. Setting up location-based printing is straightforward and uses capabilities found in Active Directory Domain Services and Print Management hosted on a print server. It leverages Active Directory Sites and Services to effectively determine the location of clients and match them with the printers configured in their same Active Directory Site.
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With Group Policy configuration, administrators can automatically configure location-based printing for thousands of users with minimal effort and ensure that users print to the optimal printer for their location.