Windows Server 2012 Essentials : Add a Network Printer

LogoI have seen and heard of people struggling to install printer drivers in mixed x64 and x86 environments, it has been a problem for a long time now, probably as far back as XP x64, certainly it was an issue with SBS 2008.

The problem being in order to install a printer on the Server, you need the x64 bit driver, but on a client pc you may be on x86 (32Bit) Windows, so you need a different driver.

Essentials 2012 is no different. So, i thought i would just get an example together using a printer i have here in the office, an HP Laserjet 3055. This is a good example actually because when you install it to WSE12, it picks up a valid driver, but there is no equivalent driver for Windows client available from HP.

First, let’s add the Printer to the Server.

From Start, choose Control Panel.


Inside Control Panel, go to View Devices and Printers.


Chose to Add a Printer.


Assuming your printer is not found, go to ‘The Printer i want was not listed’


Next, chose ‘Add Local or network printer as Administrator’

The scan should run again, and then you can chose, ‘Printer not listed’



The printer i am adding is connected to the network, so i am choosing to ‘Add a printer using TCP/IP address..


Type in the IP Address of the printer.


Windows will attempt to connect to the printer and find a driver…


You can chose to share the printer at this point, but i would change that to No for the time being.


Once that is installed, you will be back to the Devices and Printers window. Select your Printer and choose ‘Print Server Properties’ at the top of the window.


Switch to the Drivers tab, and you can see all the available drivers your server has for printers.


This is where we will add our x86 (32bit) Printer Driver. You will need to download that from your manufacturer. For this printer, and my Windows 7 x86 clients i have downloaded the HP Universal Printer Driver.

I have downloaded BOTH the x64 and x86 version, and Extracted the files to a folder.

Click on Change Driver Settings, then Add. The Add Driver Wizard will start.


First we chose the Architecture that the Driver is for, in this case it is the x64 driver we want.


Next you chose the Driver files. I will click on Have Disk, and browse the to the x64 universal print driver folder.



I can then chose which version of the driver to load from the folder, i don’t honestly know the difference, so i chose the top one.


Then you can finish the wizard.


You can then repeat this process, but chose the x86 driver, and then chose the x86 Universal Print Driver folder.


At this point we have now installed 2 additional print drivers.You can see those listed.


Now, we need to change the driver that Windows uses for the printer we installed. Currently if we shared the printer AS IS, x86 clients would search for a 32bit equivalent driver for the HP Laserjet 3055, which it will not find.

In Devices and Printers, double click your printer, and then go to Customise.


On the Advanced Page, you can use the Drop Down menu to select a different Driver. You will see the Universal Print Driver listed.


At this point we can now Share the printer. You can chose the Share name, and check the box to list the printer in the directory.


At this point, we have installed a printer, installed the drivers so it is available to x64 and x86 clients, and shared it to make it available to network users. You are now free to deploy the printer using your favourite method, either using Group Policy Preferences, or just having your users manually installing it.

Hope you find this useful.

About Robert Pearman
Robert Pearman is a UK based Small Business Server enthusiast. He has been working within the SMB IT Industry for what feels like forever. Robert likes Piña colada and taking walks in the rain, on occasion he also enjoys writing about Small Business Technology like Windows Server Essentials or more recently writing PowerShell Scripts. If you're in trouble, and you can find him, maybe you can ask him a question.

30 Responses to Windows Server 2012 Essentials : Add a Network Printer

  1. Hi Robert. I really enjoy your blog and your tips.
    I’ve been trying to find some specific resources about printing/scanning in Windows 2012 Server (I have the Essentials version on my office) but without success. Maybe you can help me.
    My (probably dumb) question: can an USB multifunction printer (printer/scanner) be shared on a network through Windows Server 2012?
    I know the the printer portion of the multifuncional devide can (providing I have the correct drivers, of course); but what about the scanner part?
    BTW, what I have is a HP Officejet L7480, for which HP has just realease Windows 8 (32/64 bit) drivers.
    Thanks in advance,

    • It is unlikely that the scanner portion can be made available over the network, however the scanner may support scanning to a network share, like the 3055 series.
      Hope that helps.

  2. Oliver Wormer says:

    I had evaluation versions of Server 2012 Standard and Essentials running and either printing or scanning didn’t work, so I switched back to WHS 2011. I had no problems installing printer drivers though, but all printing jobs ended in a virtual Nirvana.

  3. finddler says:

    I’ve tried this with the universal printing driver but old Excel and PDF documents don’t print correctly, something to do with older print driver information saved with the documents. I’m using HP laserjet 4100tn and I can’t find out how to install native PCL5 64 and x86 drivers on windows 2008 R2 server to deploy on my mixed network. I wonder if anyone can help me!

  4. Eoin says:

    Thanks for these instructions. I’m following them fine, except just at the last step (changing driver to universal) I hit a problem.

    Universal Driver is one of the options in the drop down, but when I select it and hit Apply, an error pops up that ” Printer settings could not be saved. This operation is not supported. [OK] ” There is no more detail, or error code.

    I’ve looked in the Event Viewer to see if there is more information, but I can’t find anything relevant (I might be looking in the wrong place!). Any ideas how to troubleshoot?

    I appreciate this question might be specific to our environment, but I thought I’d post it here in case the fix is helpful to anyone else following these instructions.

    • Not sure to be honest, id be looking perhaps to see if i could install that printer with the universal driver on another system first. Then try and narrow down a potential cause.

  5. Jan says:

    Thx….this resolved my problem :)

  6. do you have a guideline to install printers on a w2012 print server? If we use the version 4 drivers we can not define several printers using the same drive. If we use version 3 drives the printer status takes a long ttime to be updated.

  7. saja says:

    thanks good and easy

  8. justin says:

    Hi robert, can this steps apply to those using remote desktop? For instsnt, using application in the server and print back to client printer via remote environment. Thanks.


    • I believe in that environment the server also requires the driver to be installed, so, you may be able to install the driver using this method, so yes, it should work but it depends on the driver you are supplied with. If it is an EXE you may need to extract out the driver files from it.

  9. Mark Jones says:

    Hi Robert,

    We have our printers installed in the server and shared. The problem we have is sometimes when connecting the printer to the client it hangs during the driver installation. Then you have to restart the server for that client to install the print driver from the server. Any clues? We have looked for similarities ie all 32 bit clients but have found non.


    • Difficult to say based on your summary, anything in the server event logs at all?
      Does the server lock up and require a reboot, or is it only the spooler service on the server that hangs?

      • Mark Jones says:

        Nothing in the event logs. We are turning on more specific logging to see if we can find a fault. The server does not hang nor the print spooler, clients that are connected carry on working fine. It is only while connecting a new client, some times it is while downloading the driver other times it finishes the download but hangs on the final connect.

  10. Subbu V says:

    Hi Robert,

    We have recently purchased a new printer (Canon) and wish to install the same over a Windows 2012 server network, accessible to all computers over the network. Would this mean, I have to install the drivers on the Server first, and then on the clients subsequently using the disk?

    • You should install it on the Server, and then install any additional drivers required (like the x86 version), then share the printer.

      The clients should then be able to install it without the disk.

      • Subbu says:

        Will do Robert. In the 8th Screen shot you have suggested to enter to IP address. I am no expert in networking, and when I hit IPCONFIG in my Windows server I have 3 different IP addresses with IPV4 and IPV6 values against each of them (listed below)
        ETHERNET Adapter
        NIC 1 Adapter and
        NIC 2 Adapter

        Which value should be entered, IPV4 or IPV6 of the 3 above?

      • You should enter the IP address of the printer in this step.

  11. Dileep says:

    Hi, In Windows 2003- In the printer Properties we have one tab called Device options to control the X offset, Gap and number of Lanes. I am not seeing cuch tab in Winows 2012 printer properties. I want to control the number of lanes and Gap in the my printer driver settings. Could you please guide me where we can control the number of lanes?

  12. Dale says:

    Thanks for the helpful guide. I’m following your instructions logged in as Administrator to 2012 R2 Essentials, but when I get to the step of clicking on “The printer I want isn’t listed” I don’t get the option to “Add a local or network printer as an Administrator” – merely the “Find a printer by other options” in your following step.

    This (presumably) is why when I install the printer, and get to the stage of looking at the Drivers tab of the Print Server Properties, I don’t have the “Change Driver Settings” button underneath the Add / Remove /Properties button!

    Any ideas or suggestions much appreciated!

  13. Just skip that step and try the next, ‘Add a printer using TCP/IP address or hostname’

  14. Dale says:

    Thanks for a great tutorial.

    I’m logged in as Administrator to 2012 R2 Essentials, but when I get to the stage of choosing ‘The printer that I want isn’t listed’ I *don’t* get the step of ‘Add a local or network printer as an administrator’ – I go straight to ‘Find a printer by other options’.

    This (presumably) is the cause of why when I go to the Drivers tab of the Print Server Properties (after adding the printer as described), I *don’t* get the ‘Change Driver Settings’ button underneath the Add / Remove / Properties ones….. so I can’t finish the steps.

    Any comments advice much appreciated.


  15. Luis Marques says:

    hello everyone,

    Let me try to explain from the begging.

    I started working for this company one week ago & it’s a mess, and graduated only 2 months ago.

    I work on a small company, and we have like 3 building spread around the city.
    First i used a VPN so all the stores could connect with the server to use Primavera and everything else they may need but everything is printed here in the headquarters. But now i have to add a thermal printer in each store to mainly print bills.
    So quick summary: vpn to server to use primavera and they choose the store printer to print the bill local.

    What is my question after all? Well, the computers on the stores are not on the domain, do i have to add them first and add the printers after to domain? Or what is the easier way to do it?
    Thank’s in advanced to anyone who doesn’t ignore.

    If anyone can light me up it would be great.

    • I don’t know what primavera is. Can you explain what that is?

      • Luis Marques says:

        Primavera is a billing and accounting software, but like everyother software the licenses are expensive, so we just bought one license instead of four and installed on server and removed from local stores. Now who ever needs to uses connects to the Server and uses it there, but they need to print at the store.
        It’s very rare that clients asks for the bead because is self service laundry .

        Thanks for your time Robert

  16. Thanks! Saved me a lot of headache. Worked like a charm.

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