One challenge with Remote Desktop printing is the issue of drivers. If users want to output documents on locally attached printers, for example, in work-from-home environments, organizations might have to deal with various printer models. Remote Desktop Easy Print offers a solution with a single driver.

In a traditional printing subsystem architecture, IT admins have to ensure that all the appropriate drivers are installed on the Remote Desktop Server so that it can render documents for printing. The Remote Desktop Easy Print architecture simplifies the challenge of installing drivers for all possible end-user printers.

How does Remote Desktop Easy Print work? ^

Easy Print is a proxy that redirects all printing-related work to the user's local machine. Hence, you don't need to install any print drivers on the session host.

Instead of creating a server-side UI that will show preferences such as number of copies, landscape v. portrait, etc., the Easy Print driver redirects all calls for UI to the actual driver on the client side. The TS client launches this UI from the local machine on top of the remote session. As a result, the user sees all printer options available to them.

When redirecting print jobs, the server creates an XPS file and sends it to the client, which will print the job on the appropriate printer. XPS has the advantage of being able to encapsulate the user's selected printing preferences plus the document data.

Configuring Easy Print on the Remote Desktop Server ^

Once you have installed the Remote Desktop Services role in Windows Server, you will see a new printer called Microsoft XPS Document Writer. This is the generic Easy Print printer.

Viewing the Microsoft XPS Document Writer Easy Print Device

Viewing the Microsoft XPS Document Writer Easy Print Device

Next, we can configure Easy Print using Group Policy to ensure that the Easy Print driver is used for users connected to the session host. Open the GPO in the editor and navigate to the following setting:

Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Remote Desktop Services > Remote Desktop Session Host > Printer Redirection. Open the Use Remote Desktop Easy Print printer driver first setting, and set it to Enabled.

Enabling the Remote Desktop Easy Print Driver First setting in Group Policy

Enabling the Remote Desktop Easy Print Driver First setting in Group Policy

Make sure the GPO settings are refreshed and enforced immediately by running the command at an elevated command prompt:

gpupdate /force

Configure RDP client settings ^

Easy Print should be available in all supported versions of Windows. There are also a few settings to be aware of.

First, make sure Printers is selected on the Local Resources tab.

MSTSC client settings with printer redirection

MSTSC client settings with printer redirection

In Active Directory Users and Computers, you will see the following settings in the user properties:

  • Connect client drives at logon
  • Connect client printers at logon
  • Default to main client printer

By default, these options are selected, so most will find that they can leave these settings.

Active Directory User Properties affecting client printers

Active Directory User Properties affecting client printers

You can also configure client settings related to printers in the Remote Desktop Services Session Collection. By default, the following are selected:

  • Allow client printer redirection
  • Use the client default printing device
  • Use the Remote Desktop Easy Print print driver first

With these settings, you can configure, enable, or disable client printer redirection on the collection set directly.

Session Collection client settings for Remote Desktop Easy Print

Session Collection client settings for Remote Desktop Easy Print

Testing Easy Print with an RDP connection ^

Once you log in to the session host, navigate to your printer configuration using control printers at a run menu. Next, right-click your redirected printer, and select Printer Properties. Next, click the Advanced tab and look at the driver listed. You should see the Remote Desktop Easy Print driver selected. It is normal to see the selection grayed out, since it is a redirected printer.

Verifying that the Easy Print driver is used in a Remote Desktop connection

Verifying that the Easy Print driver is used in a Remote Desktop connection

Be sure to test the printing functionality even if the printer is listed and displaying the Easy Print Driver.

Wrapping up ^

Remote Desktop Easy Print is a technology that IT admins can leverage to ease the management of printer drivers. It enables users to redirect locally attached printers to an RDS session and have the printing functionality work as expected.

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In addition, the Easy Print driver helps to ensure that even consumer-grade and non-mainstream printers have a good chance of working, even without proper enterprise-grade drivers. As with any generic solution, Easy Print might not provide the same performance or functionality you get from a native printer setup.

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