Group Policy Preferences Registry Setting Default Printer


I am attempting to use Group Policy Preferences to assign a default printer through the Registry Policy.  We are a Windows 2008 network with Win 7 clients.  I am using the computer side for assigning printers, so the Default Printer selection is not an option.  I have to assign them through the computer side as we have roaming users and therefore need to assign printers to a given area or locale.  I want to assign a default printer to these locations to prevent roamers from getting some other default printer that may or may not be in that location.  The Registry Policy was a suggested work around by Microsoft, but I cannot get it to work for some reason.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Jon SverrissonIT SpecialistCommented:
I am wondering if you can specify computer groups based on location. For example, all the computers in Office A are in the Office A group. Then you create a user configured group policy object for the printer in Office A, making it only applying to computers in the Office A group by using the Security filtering in the group policy object's Scope tab. So that when users log into a computer in Office A, the printer configuration for that location is only applied and not other printer configs.

If that does not work, I think your third option is using login scripts on the computers.

cheesebugahAuthor Commented:

That GPP configuration is exactly how it is done.  I prefer to use GPP though.  But, assigning a default printer through the registry setting in GPP was what I was really asking about.  Have you had any experience in accomplishing this task via the registry policy of GPP?

Jon SverrissonIT SpecialistCommented:
Sorry cheesebugah for not replying sooner. Unfortunately I do not have experience in adding printers via the registry policy... I hope you will find a solution from other experts here.
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Depending on your setup, it's possible that the user GPP may be the best option.  You can use Item Level Targeting (second tab) to crisply define the application of the GPP.
yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyCommented:
AS Joharder stated GPP is the way to go.

Here is an article I wrote that EE published.  It helps outline the basics of deploying a printer using GPP (Group Policy Preferences).  Note that GPP methods do not just apply to printing, but a plethora of items.  Leveraging ILT (Item Level Targeting) you really have granular control.

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Great article, yo_bee!

I've used printing GPP with Item Level Targeting with much success.  Please remember to enable the delete option for a few days if you remove a printer and then double check the registry of a few user computers just to be sure that the entry is not present anymore.

Also, the boolean default within Item Level Targeting for multiple items is AND, not OR.  That can lead to unplanned results (been there, done that!); it's easy to overlook.
cheesebugahAuthor Commented:
Great stuff people!  What I am concerned about in our environment is roaming profiles.  We have a bunch of users who go from computer to computer.  As it stands right now, the roamers have printers following them wherever they go.  I want to prevent this.  I have seen where some admins actually delete all shared printers in their GPP, then add the printers designated for that particular workstation.  I have also seen where some admins are using loopback, which I don't fully understand.  Any thoughts on these ideas?

yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyCommented:
I will start with loopback.  
Simple explanation to loopback is user settings that apply to a certain computer setting.
i.e.  You have an OU with  Loaner laptops and you want the setting only to apply to users when they logon to a loaner laptop.  Here is when you would use loopback to apply these settings.  The user object does not need to reside in the same OU that the computer OU link GPO resides, only the computer/computers that you want to target.  You enable the user settings for the linked GPO with LOOPBACK turned on and the user logons on to the loaner the will get the users settings.  I am not sure that this will meet your needs because the setting writes to the NTUSER.DAT (HKCU) and this is what roams with the user.

You maybe better off have the Delete all Shared, but note that during a background refresh this will also be applied. Which means each refresh interval the user will have his/her printer be deleted and then re-installed.

How would you control which printers the user gets when they go from location to location?
Have you thought about applying Item Level Targeting based on the IP address range?  Or, perhaps applying the printing GPP to the computer and enabling based on user?  

Take a look at the various Item Level Targeting options and decide what will work best for your scenario.
cheesebugahAuthor Commented:
yo bee,

Thanks for the loopback explanation.  I think I may be going to implement loopback without knowing that is what it is?  I will create a GPP on the user side with all of our printers in it.  I will then use ILT to target a security group the computer is a member of based on location.  However, I did find this link:

However, the solution seems a bit incomplete to me.  Do I apply the GPO to the user side or the computer side?  The RemovePrintersAtLogoff key is not present on my Win 7 computer?  I'm assuming you would just create it and set it to 1?  

I think you can set a GPP to "apply once and do not reapply," on the common tab of a GPP.  Also, if you set to "Create," it only applies once, I believe?

yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyCommented:
I not sure about the remove at logoff, but you can try creating in GPP as the first in the order to run.  This will be set to delete and Check the option to delete all share printers.  Make sure the Option to only run once is not check.

This will clear your printers each logon.  This would be a user setting and not a computer one.
If you select apply once and do not reapply, that would still imprint this setting into the registry.  If you are applying this as a user-based GPP with roaming profiles, this setting would remain in the user profile.  

Also, to step back to your original question, you can set a default printer by means of the computer-based GPP as an option.  

Lastly, to see the results of setting with a user-based vs. computer-based GPP, look in the following registry keys:
- Computer: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print\Printers
- User: HKEY_USERS\[SID]\Printers
cheesebugahAuthor Commented:
My original question really has not been answered here, but setting the default printer via GPP on the user side and targeting the computers in a specific location via the computer side seems to be the way to go.  I think deleting the shared printers in the same GPP is probably the way to go with the roaming profiles, but have yet to test this.  I am going to give the appropriate points and close this question.  Thank you for all of your help, especially yo bee and joharder.
yo_beeDirector of Information TechnologyCommented:
How do you define a ROAMER?
This might be the way to filter.
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