The tools that Microsoft provides are not simply made to be kept AS-IS! They should be modified for your environment and to make your day easier. The primary method of doing this is with a custom MMC console and by modifying their default configuration. We have already covered changes that you should make in Active Directory Users and Computers as well as one big change to make in the Group Policy Management Console. Today, we are going to look at three ways that you can start modding the Print Management console to make your day a little easier.
Create the Custom Print Management Console
Launch MMC.exe – select File – Add/Remove Snap-In. Load the Print Management snap-in and connect to your Printserver(s). Go ahead and save your MMC to a network location. I once made the mistake of saving all of my custom managements console to my local profile and lost them all…
Next, create a shortcut and pin it to your Start Menu/Screen. You will want this shortcut to be in the same location as your previous print management shortcut. You can even add this shortcut to Administrative Tools if you desire.
To make the transition a little easier, also change the shortcut icon from the default MMC toolbox to the Print Management icon. The icon can be found at: %systemroot%\system32\pmcsnap.dll.
Enable Extended View
In any class that I teach, I always make a point of showing everyone Extended View in the Print Management Console. It is a feature that I use every time when I am troubleshooting a printer. To enable extended view, expand the Print Management node and select the Printers Option. Right click on Printers and select Show Extended View
While it might not look much different, your MMC just gained an awesome tool. In the center – bottom of the screen, you should notice a new window that displays any current jobs on the selected printer. If you don’t see this, select any printer. Then select the Printer Web Page tab that appears next to the Jobs. A screenshot is below:
Amazing isn’t it! From within the Print Management console, you can configure options directly on the printer! I went years without even knowing about this feature. When troubleshooting a printer, I would look up it’s IP and open a browser. Luckily, one of my good friends showed this trick to me.
Commenting for Inventory
A while back, we published a great How-To that enabled printer status logging. If you have this setup already, you’ll remember that anytime a printer is offline, the offline date is recorded in the comment attribute for that printer. Because this attribute isn’t visible by default, you’ll want to enable it in your custom MMC.
To do so, right click on Printers and select View – Add/Remove Columns. Add the comment column and move it up so that it is just below the Queue status column. In one quick glance, you can see the printer status and when that status occurred.
Filtering for Fun (and Efficiency)
This final change allows you to get a modular view of your print environment. In the top left corner of the Print Management console, select Custom Filters. The Custom Filters come with 4 precreated filters.
If you have multiple print servers in your environment, you will likely find the first two filters very valuable. You will also want to create a few custom filters. Here are some examples:
- Show Printers at Particular Locations
- Show Printers Offline at a Particular Location
- Show Printers with certain drivers and driver version (very useful when doing mass updates).
To create a filter, just right click on Custom Filters. Then select the conditions that you want to apply to your filter. Each additional condition that you set will work as an AND statement. As far as I know, there is not a way to set up OR statements.
My dream filter would be a filter that showed all printers beginning with multiple prefixes. Example: show all printers beginning with BOE, BHS, MNT, ETC. Because I manage multiple sites (but not every printer), this would save me a good bit of time. Bonus points goes to the person who knows of a solution!
After making all of the changes to your custom Print Management MMC, be sure to save it! If not, all of your automation will be for naught. If you have any other improvements that you’ve made, let me know in the comments below! And while I have you thinking about printers, have you migrated over to Printer Preferences?