Using Locally-Attached Network Printers with Terminal Services

If you work with Microsoft's Terminal Services on a regular basis, you've probably come accross a printing issue at some point. The point of this post is to provide a potential solution to the problem whereby locally attached network printers cannot be used from a remote terminal services session. By locally attached, I mean directly connected via. IP address, and not by way of a print server. This is often the case with consumer grade network printers, or wireless equivalents.

The concept is simple - attach the network printer as normal, then share it. Then, connect to the share on the local machine - thus using the printer as it is connect via a print server - with the server being the local machine. Here are the steps required to achieve this:

  • First attach the printer as normal. For the type of connection I am describing this is via. a TCP/IP port. So choose New Printer in Printers and Faxes, and then Local printer attached to this computer.

  • When asked the type of port, choose TCP/IP, and enter the IP address of the network printer.

  • Once the printer is connected, share it. This can be done from the wizard, or by using the Sharing and Security panel afterwards.

  • Then, choose New Printer again, this time selecting a network printer. Then enter \\ as the path to the printer. Obviously machine name is the name of your computer, and share name is the name with which you shared the printer in the previous step.

  • Note: This step will not introduce a new printer item to your list of printers, so don't be alarmed when nothing new appears. Just connect to the terminal server as in the last step.

  • Once this is done, connect to your terminal services session and wait for a minute or two for the printer to appear. Note that version 6 of the Microsoft Terminal Services Client may be required for this to work.

Although it seems hacky, and untidy, this solution seems to work well, so I hope this will help at least one person out there. Happy printing.