Fix: Printer Not Showing in Remote Desktop Session

Remote desktop printing can often feel like it’s more trouble than it’s worth. Make no mistake: There are a lot of benefits to remote desktop protocol (RDP) environments. A leaner infrastructure, more flexibility and centralized management, to name just a few. At the same time, the advantages of RDP environments can also pose serious problems for RDP printing.


The weak points of RDP printing

Because RDP relies heavily on the WAN connection, particularly in distributed environments, that makes the WAN a potential point of failure. If the WAN experiences bottlenecking on account of heavy network traffic or goes down completely, RDP performance is hindered or interrupted, resulting in unwanted and unexpected downtime. RDP printing is no different because it’s subject to the same vulnerabilities. As a matter of fact, RDP printing is a major cause of WAN bottlenecking.

But it isn’t just the WAN connection that causes trouble in remote environments. RDP printing often involves printer redirection as the preferred deployment method, and the instances of remote desktop printer redirection not working as it should are legion. One of the most common problems is printers not appearing in the session.


The basics of RDP printer redirection in Server 2012

To properly troubleshoot this issue, it’s important to understand how RDP printer redirection works in Server 2012 to begin identifying reasons why the printer might not be appearing. In a nutshell, the server first receives a list of local printers that are installed on the remote client. Next, the server creates the print queue within the remote session. When the end user goes to print from the remote client, the server is queried for accompanying printer drivers. All being well, the printer is then redirected.

As you can see, this is a chain of events that depends on a series of successful queries and responses. Any failure at any point along that chain can result in remote desktop printer redirection not working and, among many other errors, the printer not showing.

There are three immediate steps you can then take to solve this kind of RDP printer redirection problem in Server 2012:

  1. Ensure that local printers are enabled. Invoke the Remote Desktop Connection screen, look under the “Local devices and resources” section and make sure that the “Printers” option is enabled.
  2. Confirm that the Server 2012 settings are correct. Go to Server Manager > Remote Desktop Services > Collections > Tasks > “Edit properties.” Then go to the “Client settings” tab. For printer redirection, the “Windows printer” option should be selected.
  3. Install the drivers on the server. In many cases, the drivers haven’t been installed properly. This could be due to a faulty deployment or a simple admin oversight.

If all that fails, double-check user and system permissions on c:windowssystem32spool and grant access to both groups.


How PrinterLogic helps with RDP printer redirection in Server 2012

By using a unique centrally managed direct IP printing paradigm, PrinterLogic is able to eliminate many of the variables that are responsible for remote desktop printer redirection not working—including those elusive printers that don’t appear in a session.

In addition to streamlining and simplifying driver management (which avoids those problematic driver installs), PrinterLogic enables you to deploy printers accurately and dynamically without using GPOs or scripts (which can cause a whole host of deployment hassles). It integrates seamlessly with any remote desktop environment, including Citrix and VMware, and can help your organization to eliminate print servers completely and minimize infrastructure even further. It’s the complete, cost-effective RDP printing solution that will transform how you think about enterprise printing in general.

5 Common Printer Redirection Problems with Remote Desktop Services (RDS)

Many organizations rely on remote desktop services (RDS) to provide them with lean, flexible computing environments. Many of those same organizations also struggle with remote desktop printer problems, which detracts significantly from the benefits of RDS. 

At the end of the day, admins just want printers to print without hurting productivity and overloading their team with helpdesk calls. However, obstacles like heavy WAN traffic and failed printer redirections tend to result in unpleasant downtime for organizations—and increased workload for IT.


5 Common Problems with Printer Redirection

The full list of potential problems is a long one, but there are ways to simplify and streamline everything about enterprise printing in RDS environments—which we will discuss later. Here are five common cases of RDP redirection not working when using Windows print servers and what you can do about them.


1. Print jobs disappear

This is one of the most frustrating of all the possible remote desktop printer problems. After connecting to the server, the client can see the desired desktop printer in the list of available printers. The client can successfully send a print job to the printer, and it even appears in the queue. But then—poof!—it’s gone, and the print job is never actually printed.


2. An installed printer is not visible to the remote client

In this scenario, a printer appears to have been successfully installed on the administrative side but that printer is not showing in the remote desktop session. It might be problematic for just a single client, or it might be an entire client pool. Whatever the case, the client (or client pool) is unable to locate it and therefore unable to print.


3. Print jobs execute but the text is garbled

When a print job fails to print or an RDP printer is not showing in the remote desktop session, you can at least isolate the problem to a single step in the printing process. But what about when the print job appears in the output tray with garbled text or symbols instead of text?


4. Long printing delays

Sometimes everything in the printing process will work fine. The printer is accessible, the print job is successfully relayed to the printer, and the document prints out just as it should. However, this process will take an inordinate amount of time—far longer than it should actually take for data to travel from the local client to the printer via the remote server.


5. Application-specific RDP problems

This can test the limits of an admin’s sanity. Here the end user can print from the word processor, for example, but can’t print from the accounting software. It can be a matter of one particular printer not showing in the remote desktop session for that particular application, or that a printer is accessible but the print job will not execute for some reason.


RDP Redirection Troubleshooting Tips

Though it’s very hard to pinpoint the exact cause of each of these remote desktop printer problems, the general troubleshooting advice is that they often result from a driver issue, especially if you’re relying on non-manufacturer print drivers. Try updating the driver on the client or moving to a newer version of your non-standard driver. And as soon as you attempt to print, check the Event Viewer and print server logs. Those error messages should offer you some more specific direction.

If none of these methods help, the reason could be one of the following:

  • The client may not support RDP and/or the user isn’t using a Microsoft device
  • Group Policy may be halting redirection 
  • The server can’t identify the printer 

I’m sure you’ve discovered the common theme by now: RDP redirection is more trouble than it’s worth. It shouldn’t be this hard for users to print in RDS sessions. That’s why we have one more option to help you enhance printing in RDS environments. 


Want to get rid of RDP redirection issues for good?

A more comprehensive, long-term, and cost-effective solution to all of your remote desktop printer problems is PrinterLogic. Our next-generation print management software removes issues with RDP redirection not working with Windows print servers by seamlessly replacing or enhancing your conventional print infrastructure.

In short, we eliminate your print servers and enable you to manage your entire printer fleet on our SaaS platform. 

No print servers means you can deploy printers without GPOs or scripts and empower your end users with self-service installation while enjoying centralized administration, precise automated deployments, and effortless printer and driver management. You can even use PrinterLogic to deploy session printers instead of using printer redirection in your RDS environment. So if you find yourself battling remote desktop printing problems, PrinterLogic is the quickest way to get rid of them permanently.