Windows 7: Where are my printers?

Windows 7: Where are my printers?

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Hello again, Aamer Shedam here. I have recently come across a Windows 7 behavior, that while it is intentional and is meant to ease printer management, may be less than intuitive to many. The behavior is that if you install multiple printers that use the same driver and are installed on the same port (e.g. LPT1), they will appear as one in the Devices and Printers window. As an example, I have installed two printers and called them HP Color LaserJet 2800 PS -1 and HP Color LaserJet 2800 PS -2. Both of these are installed on the same port and use the same driver. Here is how the printers appear within Devices and Printers:

 

Printers0

 

If I right-click on the printer icon and choose any of the options in the menu that follows, I’ll be able to see all printers, like this:

 

Printers1

 

If you don’t like this behavior, we do have a work-around which will show all the printers separately in a custom folder which will reside on the desktop. To do this, we need to add a key and value to the registry, so as always, we have a couple of disclaimers: First, modifying the registry is dangerous and if something is changed that shouldn’t be, we can’t guarantee that you won’t break your machine. Second, any undocumented feature like this is subject to change at any time and may not work in the future. So, if you still want to do it, here is how:

 

Open the registry editor and navigate to the following location:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Desktop\NameSpace

Right click on NameSpace and choose ‘New Key’

Name the key: {2227a280-3aea-1069-a2de-08002b30309d}   …be sure to include the {brackets}

In the right pane, edit the value of ‘Default’ and change it to ‘Printers’:

 

Untitled-3

 

Close Registry Editor and refresh the desktop. You should see a new folder called ‘Printers’ which will show all the printers separately:

 

Printers2

 

Till next time, Aamer Shedam

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  • See my blog post on how to implement this via group policy at http://www.grouppolicy.biz/2010/03/how-to-use-group-policy-to-restore-missing-second-printer-in-windows-7/

  • This is good information Alan. Thank you for sharing the link to your blogpost with us.

  • How are you supposed to remove one of the printers when there are multiple printers listed?  The "Remove device" choice does not have a triangle on it, and it doesn;'t ask you to select one printer.

  • This was a very helpful article!  If I wanted this "printers" folder to be available on the root of the C: drive instead of the desktop, how would I do that?  I just want to make it less tempting for the students at this school to mess with it.  I figure it'll be less "attractive" if it's just buried in the root of their C:

    Thank you!

    Natalie

  • Hi David, the answer comes from our Hardware Tech, Chris:

    Set the desired printer as default via the triangles.   Remove.  i haven't tested this myself, but give it a shot.

  • This so-called "behavior" happens even if the printer drivers are different.

    For example, I like to install printers with both the PCL and PS drivers, because oftimes one will work better than the other for different tasks.  So, e.g., I have a Xerox 5500 PS and Xerox 5500 PCL installed, and only one shows at a time.  I DON'T like this feature.  It's a pain in the *ss.  Instead of just choosing the different printer in Word, I have to navigate to the Windows 7 printers list, right-click the version that's showing, choose the other version, and then go back to Word to finish.

  • @Norio

    I do the same with one of my printers but my Word, and every other app I've used, shows all the printers listed seperately even if they are combined in Devices and Printers window.

  • The trick, apparently, is to have separate _PORT_ names (that still have the same IP address), and Windows 7 will show them as separate printers.

  • Thanks!! This is very good information!! I need that!

  • aamer, thank you very much, you solve my problem !

    THANKS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • This information is very helpful. Thanks for this post.

  • Thanks for the info and I can now see my printers.  Still have a problem with not seeing them in the Devices and Printers folder.  This prevent printing to any given printer from another PC on the network.  Any ideas.

  • @MJS - Are you able to actually open the Devices and Printers UI? Do you see anything there?

    Could be numerous things - one that comes to mind is Bluetooth?

    If you have a Bluetooth device enabled, but the bluetooth service is disabled - it will make the Devices and Printers UI go out to lunch and never return.

  • Thank you, this is better that any painkiller.

  • thank you