Printers

Quick Tip: Use location-aware printing in Windows 7

Microsoft Windows 7 allows you to set a default printer for each separate location you visit. Jack Wallen shows you how to set it up.

If you are like me, your laptop goes from location to location. In order to juggle all your locations and all your actions, you might wind up having to always set a new default printer when you move to a different location. With Microsoft Windows 7, you do not have to do this. Instead, what you can do is set up location-aware printing, which will seamlessly associate a different default printer with a specific network.

Believe it or not, this printing configuration is quite easy to set up; you just have to know where to look and what to do. Once you have this set up, the default printer you use will automatically switch, depending on the network you are connected to. All you will need in order to achieve this is the following:

  • Windows 7 Premium (or higher edition) installed on a mobile device
  • Configured networks on the device
  • Installed and configured printers on the device

Let's take a look at the steps to achieve this.

Step 1: Set up a default printer

Strangely enough, this will not work without a default printer set. Although most users will know how to set a default printer, let's review this just in case.

First click Start | Devices and Printers to open the Devices and Printers window. Once that window is open, right-click the printer you want to set as the default and choose Set as Default Printer.

Step 2: Enable location-aware printing

The next step is to instruct Windows 7 that you want to use the feature. To do this, click Manage Default Printers from the Printers and Devices menu bar. When the new window opens (Figure A), make sure the Change My Default Printer when I Change Networks box is checked. Once this is selected, you now must map the printers to the networks.

Figure A

If you need to disable this feature, remember to return to this window and check the box associated with Always Use the Same Printer as My Default Printer.

Step 3: Map the printers

For this step to work, the networks and printers must already be installed and working. Obviously you do not need to be connected to each network or have each printer available to you at the moment of configuration. But these devices need to have already been set up and working.

From the same window where you enabled location-aware printing, you will see two drop-down lists. The first list is for the configured networks on your machine, and the second is for configured printers on your machine. In order to map a printer to a network, you must first select a network from the drop-down list. With a network selected, choose a printer you want to map to that network and then click the Add button. Once you add a mapped printer to the network, it will be displayed in the pane below the drop-down list.

You can map as many printers as you want. The only thing you cannot do is map multiple printers to a single network. Remember, this is mapping a default printer to a network. That means when you connect to a different network a different default printer will be assigned.

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The downside

As I mentioned earlier, this will work only with mobile devices. So, if you're hoping to be able to make use of this feature on a desktop, don't bother. Of course most users don't travel with desktop computers, so the downside really isn't so much of a downside.

Final thoughts

The ability to automatically assign specific default printers to different networks on a single machine makes for an incredibly convenient mobile experience. This is especially true for business users on the move or even IT admins who have the need to print from multiple locations.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

10 comments
lshortt
lshortt

I fear it's yet another feature NOT available in Home premium. Like Amy, I do not see "Manage default printers" as an option. My laptop has already connected to multiple networks, multiple printers, and one printer has been set as the default. I've highlighted (selected) that printer. Menu option does not appear. =(

davidj
davidj

I've never done all of the above on my laptop but the changed default location works. In my office, at other 2 offices and at home the default for there works. I think I must have turned it on an then set default, or just connected to, the printer when in each location.

GreatZen
GreatZen

And I use Lenovo's Access Connections to toggle between location specific network settings, power management features, home pages, and default printers. If I didn't have a Lenovo, I'd probably be using Windows 7's version of the same thing.

mike.panagos
mike.panagos

Otherwise the "Manage default printers" button doesn't appear in the toolbar.

amymac
amymac

I don't get the "manage default printers" button. Any ideas?

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

"Windows 7 Premium". Isn't that Home Premium? Basically this is available for any edition other than the Starter and the rare Home Basic editions.

amymac
amymac

Thanks. I tried that, but I still don't get the option to manage default printers.

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