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Assigning PDFCreator via Group Policy

In this article I will show you how to install PDFCreator on a Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Server and automatically assign it to the clients via group policy. If a user prints a document on the PDFCreator, he will receive the PDF file on his desktop.

I have only tested this in an 2008R2/Win7 environment but it should work on previous Windows versions as well. But keep in mind: if you have a 2008 DC with XP clients, you will most probably have to install the Client Side Extensions (CSE) on the XP machines in order to have the GPOs being processed properly.

Requirements

  • You need a working Windows Domain / Active Directory.
  • The user that is logged-on the server has to be a member of the clients’ local administrators group. However, this is only necessary if the PDF file is said to be saved to the user’s desktop. You can always save it to a network share instead.
  • To automatically save the printed PDF file to the user’s desktop all clients must have the same operating system (XP or 7). This is because we can only configure one save-path and the path to the desktop differs on XP and 7.

Step 1 – Download and Install PDFCreator

You can download PDFCreator from this website: http://www.pdfforge.org/download.

Install it on your server and during installation select [Server installation]. If you have 32bit clients within your network, also install the 32bit (2000/XP/2003) drivers.

Step 2 – Configure PDFCreator

Now open the Print monitor (Server) by clicking the newly added “PDFCreator” shortcut on the desktop. In the menu click [Printer] -> [Options]. Select [Auto-save] and configure it as follows:
You can use several variables (“tokens”) to define the filename and save-path. As for the filename I have set it to the following. This will create a time-string and add the name of the printed document to make it easier to identify.

<DateTime>_<REDMON_DOCNAME>

As for the save-path I use this to reach the user’s desktop. This path works for Win7 clients only. If you also have XP clients you could save to “\\..\C$\PDF” or a network share instead.

\\<REDMON_MACHINE>\C$\Users\<REDMON_USER>\Desktop

Step 3 – Create a Security Group

Go into [Active Directory Users and Computers] and within your Groups-OU create a group called “PDFUsers”. Add the users that are supposed to get the PDFCreator to this group.

Step 4 – Share the Printer

Go to [Devices and Printers], right-click on PDFCreator and select [Printer properties]. Go to the [Sharing] tab and check [Share this printer].

Step 5 – Create a Group Policy

Go into [Group Policy Management] and create a new GPO called “PDFCreator”. Remove “Authenticated Users” from Security Filtering and add “PDFUsers” instead because only the members of this group shall get the printer assigned.

Now edit the “PDFCreator” policy. Go to [User Configuration] -> [Preferences] -> [Control Panel
Settings] -> [Printers]. Add a new Shared Printer and set the Action to “Create”. This will install the printer on the client if it isn’t there yet and do nothing if it is there already. Then set the share-path to the printer.

Step 6 – Deploy the Printer

If you haven’t already done it, install the “Print and Document Services” Role on your server.
When the print server is installed, click on [Start] -> [Administrative Tools] -> [Print Management]. Right-click on PDFCreator and select [Deploy with group policy]. Click [Browse] and choose your “PDFCreator” policy. Check the [per user] box and then click [Add].

Step 7 – Test If It Works

Go to a client computer and check [Devices and Printers] for the PDFCreator – it should be there. If it isn’t, invoking a gpupdate /force and/or system reboot might help. If the printer is there, print a test page – it should appear on your desktop.

Troubleshooting

If the printer does not appear on the client, do the following:

  • Open a command prompt and enter gpresult -r
  • Check if you are a member of the security group “PDFUsers”
  • Check if the “PDFCreator” GPO has been applied

If the printer has been assigned but the test page doesn’t appear on the desktop, do this:

  • Go to [Control Panel] -> [Windows Firewall] and set an exception for “File and Printer Sharing” within the Domain network.
  • Make sure that the account, which has the Print monitor running on the server, is a member of the local administrators group. If you are saving to another location (i.e. a network share) make sure that the account has write-access to this folder.
  • On the server, make sure that the PDF Print monitor is running.

4 Comments.[ Leave a comment ]

  1. Hey jsut wanted to ask if i install the pdfcreator on a server and then push the printers out to all clients with group policy. Laptops when at home are they going to be able to print from it`?

  2. Hi, if you do it this way, laptops will not be able to print on the PDFCreator when they are at home (resp. disconnected from the Active Directory). That is because PDFCreator is not installed on the clients. It’s only installed on the server and the clients use it as a shared/network printer. To also use the PDFCreator “offline” you’ll have to install it on every client. This can be done via group policy as well but you’ll need an MSI installer which is – as far as I know – not available yet.

  3. Hi, thanks for this tuto, it’s not working well thus.

    We use TS for conecting to the server.
    After completing your tuto, I was able to print from PDF Creator in any session of TS, Administrators or not.

    The auto-save save-path is: C:\PDF\\

    It was working and all the TS user were able to create PDF and search what was theirs in \\server_name\C:\PDF\server_name\clientname

    Today, it’s imposible to the TS user to make an PDF that goes there.

    They all goes to C:\PDF\server_name\administrator and only generates when the administrator sesion is open.
    If the admin sesion is not open, PDF Creator doesn’t generate the PDFs!

    I’ll try with some user with admin rights but it’s the same.

    Can I ask some help please?

  4. By TS, do you mean Terminal Services? I don’t have any experience with Terminal Services, but in that case the locally installed printer is redirected into the remote session, which might be the point where something goes wrong.

    How did you define the Filename? You could try a static name (without any tokens) to find out if it works and then maybe try different tokens –> http://www.pdfforge.org/content/auto-save-mode

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