Windows Printing Defaults for Internet Explorer

Posted on 2013-01-10
Last Modified: 2013-01-11
We recently added some USB label printers, (Zebra LP 2844) as part of a Visual Fox Pro based ERP solution. Some machines on the network print to network server based printers, some to network based peer to peer printers, and some to local printers.

The problem is that the LP 2844 MUST be the default printer to work properly with the software, and it prints to a 4 x 2 inch label. Much of our documentation is coded in hypertext, browsed, and printed when needed from IE. With the 2844 as default, the user can still browse to other printers, but the hypertext documents still use the 2844 defaults and NOT the network/peer/local printer selected. The result is a one page document printing in a 4 x 2 constraint on several pages.

When I switch the default printer away from the 2844, the problem goes away, sort of, and reverses the problem to the 2844 and tries to print the labels on letter size. This is a bigger problem than the former as this causes the form to be reset from inside the developer end of the software application. No, I don't know why. Not our code.

Is there a way around this problem, hold the 2844 as the default without IE picking up those defaults and forcing them on to the other printers? It's only IE. Word and Excel do not seem affected. Mozilla browsers are not an option as they don't understand drive letter links, so they would not get past the first parent directory.

I'm just not sure if this is a Windows OS problem, printing problem, or a Zebra problem. At first I was just going to switch the 2844 printers to serial, but since both local and network interfaces are affected, I doubt that will fix the problem.

In summation, the problem is that IE holds with the default printer settings even when picking a different printer from the queue.
Question by:afrend
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LVL 42

Expert Comment

ID: 38764929
You could try to set Windows default printer by Win32 API call:

You must change the printer before the IE is started.

These links could also be useful:

Author Comment

ID: 38767032
Wow. We don't own the code, so no mods on the Fox database are possible. Canned system from a vendor. They have been less than helpful in this regard.
I also admit these solutions you suggest are way over my head, but let me clarify/simplify the issue.
The label printer MUST be the default. It prints to a 4 x 2 media.
When you navigate to a laser printer set for letter/A4, the jobs print to the selected printer as if the A4 size was 4 x 2. So a one page html file prints out ~15 pages on the laser in 4 x 2 chunks.
The flip side, if we make the laser default and have the user select the label printer when called for, then the 4 x 2 label will print on 5 labels per copy asked for trying to satisfy the page length (11) on the A4/letter default.
So it seems that when working with html files or web based files, the print command takes the settings of the default printer even when selecting a printer other than the default. It was suggested in another forum that I just convert the files to XML as a workaround, 1000+ affected files. It would be easier to paste them into Word, I would think, since that does not seem to be affected by this problem. I'd rather not do that, xml or Word, as then many hyperlinks on the company intranet would need to be redone.
Thanks for your input.
LVL 42

Accepted Solution

pcelba earned 500 total points
ID: 38767148
So you have several pieces of software and hardware and all of them are disabled in some way... OK, they don't work all together as you would suppose.

If the code update solution is not feasible then your other options are:
- buy another computer used for printing on the derived printer and nothing else
- install Virtual PC on your current computer and install the application and printers in a way which will work for you (users can switch betwee these two or more environments)
- write a short program which will switch the Windows default printer when needed
- ask Microsoft for a solution

The fact LP 2844 MUST be the default printer is software vendor problem.
The invalid printer use from IE is IE+OS interperability problem probably.

I did not test "drive letter links" in Mozilla but as I know Mozilla should display the HTML file from a disk and if the file on local drive what else than disk drive letter should it use? UNC? I cannot believe it.

Author Comment

ID: 38767249
You hit the nail on the head. The intranet links are tied to drive letters going back to the 9x-NT days here. I've only found Chrome to be able to understand them as IE does. Not a Chrome fan for enterprise work.

Yes, you are also right that the label printer problem is a vendor problem. I have the exact same LP 2844 in two other departments printing to 4 x 6 media, no problem. The problem is that those printers work inside of the actual ERP application and the 4 x 2 run off data collection interfaces (ERP Lite). You would think they would be the same, but it is two different development groups. Something is missing on the data collection side.

This is the second time I posted this, and one of the admins suggested I try a different classification. I'm convinced that this is probably a longstanding Windows OS problem at its base long forgotten when .NET/SOA took off.

I like to keep things simple as possible and I was just going to do as you suggest and dedicate a few workstations around the shop for just the purposes of printing off the intranet and internet. I had hoped it was something that could be cured via AD GPO or Local Computer Management. Not the case.

Budget I do not have and development never happens. Triage network administration. The PDC is 2000 Server. That should tell you something. I do appreciate the input and ideas you have raised and will award you the points. Thank you.

LVL 42

Expert Comment

ID: 38767301
This question shows two different wolds. I am a database developer and to code something is closer to my thoughts than to find a solution from administrative point of view. Yes, it is a nightmare and hours of fine tuning sometimes but FoxPro community is working together over the world... And if I do some fix for myself then I don't need to think in money terms obviously.

OTOH, I know database applications still running under DOS OS and the reason is the known and fast environment and money, of course... So I fully understand your post.

Thanks for the points.

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