Location Aware Printing is a great, brand new feature built into Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate. Printers are almost always complicated to manage, especially between networks. IP ranges change, settings change, drivers change, and the networks themselves change.
With Location Aware Printing, you can take some of the hassle out of managing multiple network based printers by setting up default printers based on what network you are connected to.
Imagine working at a school district, roaming between schools, each school having its own printer that you need to print to. Each school is on a different network, but all use the same model of printer. Imagine having to scroll through 5-15 different printers each time you wanted to print something. It’s kind of a pain, right?
Location Aware Printing deals with this issue in the easiest way possible. While it doesn’t offer as many options as I had hoped it would when I first heard of it, it does provide a simple and down-to-earth method of automatically choosing which printer to use based on what network you are on.
The Downside of Location Aware Printing in Windows 7
The one thing that I am not too excited about, is the fact that location aware printing will only work on laptops. Even if you are using the exact same version of Windows 7, if you are using a desktop computer system, there is no way to enable location aware printing.
So if you just picked up your new ultra-portable Atom based PC, or are big on moving your gaming PC around for LAN parties, you’re unfortunately out of luck. I have yet to find a way to enable location aware printing on a desktop machine, though if I do figure out a way to in the future, I’ll be sure to comment on this article and let you know.
Setting up Location Aware Printing in Windows 7
Here are the steps to setting up Location Aware Printing on your Windows 7 laptop. Thanks to Zach from Train Signal for the screenshots.
1. On your laptop, open “Devices and Printers” from within your Start menu. Or go into your Control Panel, click on “Hardware and Sound”, and then select “Devices and Printers,” though the first way is much faster.
2. Click on a printer and then click on “Manage default printers” on the toolbar
3. Click “Change my default printer when I change networks”
4. In the “Select network” list, choose the network you wish to set a default printer to
5. Select the printer you wish to use for that network
6. Click Add
7. Repeat steps 4-6 for each network location you connect to
That’s pretty much it! It’s really simple to set up default printers, and is a welcomed feature to Windows 7. If you no longer want to use location aware printing, simply choose “Always use the same printer as my default printer” in the “Manage Default Printers” window. From then on, when you click print, Windows 7 will automatically choose the correct printer for you.
Note: If you are just now setting up your machine, keep in mind that Wireless Networks will not show up in the list until they have been connected to at least once before.
While Location Aware Printing is a basic feature, it’s a very useful and often missed one. Hopefully in future revisions of Windows 7 (and beyond,) this feature will evolve to give more options for advanced network setups, and perhaps the ability to use it with desktop machines. Until then though, this is a nice addition that I’m sure many of us can make use of.