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Enabling Client Printer Support for Terminal Services/RDP remote clients for Windows 2008 Server

Article ID: 1574

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This article is for customers of our Windows 2008 Server based Virtual Desktop, Unmanaged Dedicated Server or Unmanaged Virtual Server hosting plans, who want to be able to print a document on the Virtual Desktop/Virtual Server down to a printer installed on their PC/RDP client.

With the proper configuration, when a user connects to a Terminal Server, his local RDP client software automatically makes the printers he has installed locally available to him from within his server session. It does this by dynamically creating printers that print to special printer ports (also dynamically created) that point back to the client device. These printers will have a name like "Printer name (REDIRECTED)."   Additionally, if you were curious and checked the port configuration, you'd see special ports with names like "TS001" and "TS002" (as seen from the "Ports" tab of the printer's property page). Each printer is created with permissions that allow only that user to print to it.

Once connected via RDP, simply open the DEVICES AND PRINTERS applet on the server.  You should see your locally attached printer listed there as a "redirected" printer.  Something like:
Lexmark Optra E312 (redirected 1).  If you don't see this, go through the following steps to ensure you have proper configuration in place.
  1. ENABLE RDP session printing on the server:
    1. click START > RUN and enter: tsconfig.msc <ENTER>
    2. This should open the RDP Session Host Configuration applet, on the right hand pane, double-click RDP-TCP.
    3. This will pop up the RDP-TCP PROPERTIES window, click the CLIENT SETTINGS tab
    4. Verify the WINDOWS PRINTER and LPT PORT boxes are NOT checked in the DISABLE THE FOLLOWING section.  Checking either one of these boxes will prevent client printers from being used for printing.
  2. CONFIGURE User Account Settings
    1. Open Server Manager > Configuration > Local Users and Groups > Users
    2. Find your user, right-click > properties
    3. click the ENVIRONMENT tab
    4. Ensure the following options are checked: Within the user account properies, select the Environment tab. Ensure the appropriate options are checked. These are usually enabled by default. They include "Connect client printers at logon" and "Default to main client printer".
  3. ENABLE printer redirection in your RDP client:
    1. In the RDP client, select Options ->  Local Resources. Check that printers are selected for use in remote sessions.
  4. DISCONNECT, RE-CONNECT and print.
    1. If you've made any changes above, you'll need to log off your RDP connection, and then re-connect.  You should find your printer now listed as "redirected" in the printers/devices applet.  If not, then your server does not have the printer driver for your printer device installed, and you will need to follow the instructions below for installing the printer drivers.

INSTALLING Printer Drivers on Windows 2008
  1. ENABLE Print Services on the system:
    1. Open Server Manager (start > administrative tools > server manager)
    2. In Server Manager, click ROLES, and then select ADD ROLES.
    3. In the ADD ROLES WIZARD, click NEXT.
    4. Select the PRINT AND DOCUMENT SERVICES role, and click NEXT.
    5. On the INTRODUCTION TO PRINT SERVICES window, click NEXT. 
    6. On the ROLE SERVICES window, ensure that PRINT SERVER is the only role service select, and click NEXT.
    7. Click INSTALL.  And click CLOSE once completed successfully.  (note, a reboot may be prompted/required, please reboot if prompted to)
  2. You'll need to visit your printer vendors website to find the appropriate drivers, and download that drivers package to your server. 
    • Tips:
    • Generally, printer manufacturers will make their printer drivers available in two packages: one with an installer, and one just the plain drivers.  You do NOT want the installer package.  You want the download for just the plain/raw printer drivers.
    • You'll find they are available for multiple operating system versions.  You want the package for the operating system of your computer where you'll be running the RDP client.  So for example, if you have Windows XP 64bit on your PC, and you're using it to RDP connect to your Windows 2008 R2 server... get the plain drivers download for Windows XP 64bit. 
    • Save the driver download anywhere, like in your DOCUMENTS or DOWNLOADS folder, but pay attention to where you saved it.
    • The driver download package will likely be zipped, and needs to be unzipped/extracted before you proceed. 
    • If you're planning on printing via multiple RDP clients of different operating system versions, then you'll need to download drivers for all of those client operating system versions and bitness (x86 and x64)
  3. Once you've installed Print Services (item 1 above), you should now find that Server Manager has a new item under ROLES, called Print And Document Services.
  4. In Server Manager, select Print And Document Services > Print Management > Print Servers > YourServer > Drivers
  5. Right-click in the open area of the installed drivers, and select ADD DRIVER. 
  7. Select the bitness of your PC's operating system.
    • In our example above, the user is connecting with Windows XP x64, so you'd select x64. 
    • If you'll be connecting from multiple systems (for example, one WinXP x86 and one WinXP x64), then select both types, (be sure you downloaded both x86 and x64 versions of the drivers).
  9. Click BROWSE and navigate to the directory where you extracted the raw driver files, SELECT the INF file for the printer driver, and then click OPEN.
    • IF you selected to install both x86 and x64 versions of the driver, browse to the x64 version first... as this is the one it tries to load first.
    • The browser window should show you the INF files (i.e., SETUPc700.INF might be the driver INF file for an HP C700 printer)
  10. When the printer wizard opens the INF file, it should show you the printer in the list of printers.  Generally, it will show you just the one printer, but you may have multiple INF files in that same directory, or the INF file may contain drivers for multiple printer model.  IF you're presented with more than one printer, select the correct printer model from the list. Click NEXT.
  12. If you are prompted with WINDOWS SECURITY: Windows can't verify the publisher of this driver software, click INSTALL THIS DRIER SOFTWARE ANYWAY, assuming you trust you have the driver from a trusted/reputable source (i.e., you downloaded a driver for a Panasonic printer directly from Panasonic's download website)
  13. If at step 7, you selected both x86 and x64 bitness versions of the printer, you will be prompted to again to BROWSE for the printer driver (just like in step 9)... this time, browse to the x86 version of the printer driver.
  14. The printer driver should now show up in the list of installed printer drivers.  Repeat steps 2 - 14 for each printer driver you need to install. 
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