Product Documentation


May 03, 2015
Before you begin planning your deployment, make sure that you understand these core concepts for printing:
  • The types of printer provisioning available.
  • How print jobs are routed.
  • The basics of printer driver management.

Printing concepts build on Windows printing concepts. To configure and successfully manage printing in your environment, you must understand how Windows network and client printing works and how this translates into printing behavior in this environment.

Print process

In this environment, all printing is initiated (by the user) on machines hosting applications. Print jobs are redirected through the network print server or user device to the printing device.

There is no persistent workspace for users of virtual desktops and applications. When a session ends the user's workspace is deleted, thus all settings need to be rebuilt at the beginning of each session. As a result, each time a user starts a new session, the system must rebuild the user's workspace.

When a user prints:
  • Determines what printers to provide to the user. This is known as printer provisioning.
  • Restores the user's printing preferences.
  • Determines which printer is the default for the session.

You can customize how to perform these tasks by configuring options for printer provisioning, print job routing, printer property retention, and driver management. Be sure to evaluate how the various option settings might change the performance of printing in your environment and the user experience.

Printer provisioning

The process that makes printers available in a session is known as provisioning. Printer provisioning is typically handled dynamically. That is, the printers that appear in a session are not predetermined and stored. Instead, the printers are assembled, based on policies, as the session is built during log on and reconnection. As a result, the printers can change according to policy, user location, and network changes, provided they are reflected in policies. Thus, users who roam to a different location might see changes to their workspace.

The system also monitors client-side printers and dynamically adjusts in-session auto-created printers based on additions, deletions, and changes to the client-side printers. This dynamic printer discovery benefits mobile users as they connect from various devices.

This section describes the most common methods of printer provisioning.

Universal Print Server

The Citrix Universal Print Server provides universal printing support for network printers. The Universal Print Server uses the Universal print driver. This solution enables you to use a single driver on a Server OS machine to allow network printing from any device.

Citrix recommends the Citrix Universal Print Server for remote print server scenarios. The Universal Print Server transfers the print job over the network in an optimized and compressed format, thus minimizing network use and improving the user experience.

The Universal Print Server feature comprises:

  • A client component, UPClient.

    Enable the UPClient on each Server OS machine that provisions session network printers and uses the Universal print driver.

  • A server component, UPServer.

    Install UPServer on each print server that provisions session network printers and uses the Universal print driver for the session printers (whether or not the session printers are centrally provisioned).

For Universal Print Server requirements and setup details, refer to the system requirements and installation topics.

Note: The Universal Print Server is also supported for VDI-in-a-Box 5.3. For information about installing Universal Print Server with VDI-in-a-Box, refer to the VDI-in-a-Box installation topics in eDocs.

The following illustration shows the typical workflow for a network based printer in an environment that uses Universal Print Server.

Universal Print Server workflow diagram

When you enable the Citrix Universal Print Server, all connected network printers leverage it automatically through auto-discovery.


Autocreation refers to printers automatically created at the beginning of each session. Both remote network printers and locally attached client printers can be auto-created. Consider auto-creating only the default client printer for environments with a large number of printers per user. Auto-creating a smaller number of printers uses less overhead (memory and CPU) on Server OS machines. Minimizing auto-created printers can also reduce user logon times.

Auto-created printers are based on:

  • The printers installed on the user device.
  • Any policies that apply to the session.

    Autocreation policy settings enable you to limit the number or type of printers that are auto-created. By default, the printers are available in sessions when configuring all printers on the user device automatically, including locally attached and network printers.

After the user ends the session, the printers for that session are deleted.

Client and network printer autocreation has associated maintenance. For example, adding a printer requires that you:

  • Update the Session printers policy setting.
  • Add the driver to all Server OS machines using the Printer driver mapping and compatibility policy setting.

Print job routing

The term printing pathway encompasses both the path by which print jobs are routed and the location where print jobs are spooled. Both aspects of this concept are important. Routing affects network traffic. Spooling affects utilization of local resources on the device that processes the job.

In this environment, print jobs can take two paths to a printing device: Through the client or through a network print server. Those paths are referred to as the client printing pathway and the network printing pathway. Which path is chosen by default depends on the kind of printer used.

Locally attached printers

The system routes jobs to locally attached printers from the Server OS machine, through the client, and then to the print device. The ICA protocol optimizes and compresses the print job traffic. When a printing device is attached locally to the user device, print jobs are routed over the ICA virtual channel.

Diagram of print job routing to locally attached printer

Network-based printers

By default, all print jobs destined for network printers route from the Server OS machine, across the network, and directly to the print server. However, print jobs are automatically routed over the ICA connection in the following situations:

  • If the virtual desktop or application cannot contact the print server.
  • If the native printer driver is not available on the Server OS machine.

If the Universal Print Server is not enabled, configuring the client printing pathway for network printing is useful for low bandwidth connections, such as wide area networks, that can benefit from the optimization and traffic compression that results from sending jobs over the ICA connection.

The client printing pathway also lets you limit traffic or restrict bandwidth allocated for print jobs. If routing jobs through the user device is not possible, such as for thin clients without printing capabilities, Quality of Service should be configured to prioritize ICA/HDX traffic and ensure a good in-session user experience.

Diagram of print job routing to network attached printer

Print driver management

To simplify printing in this environments, Citrix recommends using Citrix Universal print driver. The Universal print driver is a device-independent driver that supports any print device and thus simplifies administration by reducing the number of drivers required. The Universal print driver supports advanced printer functionality, such as stapling and sorting, and does not limit color depth.

The following illustration shows the Universal print driver components and a typical workflow for a printer locally attached to a device.

Diagram of Universal print driver components and workflow

When planning your driver management strategy, determine if you will support the Universal print driver, device-specific drivers, or both. If you support standard drivers, you need to determine:

  • The types of drivers to support.
  • Whether to install printer drivers automatically when they are missing from Server OS machines.
  • Whether to create driver compatibility lists.

During printer autocreation, if the system detects a new local printer connected to a user device, it checks the Server OS machine for the required printer driver. By default, if a Windows-native driver is not available, the system uses the Universal print driver.

The printer driver on the Server OS machine and the driver on the user device must match for printing to succeed. The illustration that follows shows how a printer driver is used in two places for client printing.

Diagram of client printing to a local printer

Best practices

Updated: 2015-04-26

Many factors determine the best printing solution for a particular environment. Some of these best practices might not apply to your site.

  • Use the Citrix Universal Print Server.
  • Use the Universal printer driver or Windows-native drivers.
  • Minimize the number of printer drivers installed on Server OS machines.
  • Use driver mapping to native drivers.
  • Never install untested printer drivers on a production site.
  • Avoid updating a driver. Always attempt to uninstall a driver, restart the print server, and then install the replacement driver.
  • Uninstall unused drivers or use the Printer driver mapping and compatibility policy to prevent printers from being created with the driver.
  • Try to avoid using version 2 kernel-mode drivers.
  • To determine if a printer model is supported, contact the manufacturer or see the Citrix Ready product guide at

    In general, all of the Microsoft-supplied printer drivers are tested with Terminal Services and guaranteed to work with Citrix. However, before using a third-party printer driver, consult your printer driver vendor to ensure the driver is certified for Terminal Services by the Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL) program. Citrix does not certify printer drivers.

Security considerations for printing

Citrix printing solutions are secure by design.
  • The Citrix Print Manager Service constantly monitors and responds to session events such as logon and logoff, disconnect, reconnect, and session termination. It handles service requests by impersonating the actual session user.
  • Citrix printing assigns each printer a unique namespace in a session.
  • Citrix printing sets the default security descriptor for auto-created printers to ensure that client printers auto-created in one session are inaccessible to users running in other sessions. By default, administrative users cannot accidentally print to another session’s client printer, even though they can see and manually adjust permissions for any client printer.

Print policies and preferences

Updated: 2013-06-18

When users access printers from published applications, you can configure Citrix policies to specify:
  • How printers are provisioned (or added to sessions)
  • How print jobs are routed
  • How printer drivers are managed

You can have different printing configurations for different user devices, users, or any other objects on which policies are filtered.

Most printing functions are configured through the Citrix Printing policies. Printing settings follow standard Citrix policy behavior.

The system can write printer settings to the printer object at the end of a session or to a client printing device, provided the user’s network account has sufficient permissions. By default, Receiver uses the settings stored in the printer object in the session, before looking in other locations for settings and preferences.

By default, the system stores, or retains, printer properties on the user device (if supported by the device) or in the user profile on the Server OS machine. When a user changes printer properties during a session, those changes are updated in the user profile on the machine. The next time the user logs on or reconnects, the user device inherits those retained settings. That is, printer property changes on the user device do not impact the current session until after the user logs off and then logs on again.

Printing preferences

General locations of printing preferences

In Windows printing environments, changes made to printing preferences can be stored on the local computer or in a document. In this environment, when users modify printing settings, the settings are stored in these locations:

  • On the user device itself – Windows users can change device settings on the user device by right-clicking the printer in the Control Panel and selecting Printing Preferences. For example, if Landscape is selected as page orientation, landscape is saved as the default page orientation preference for that printer.
  • Inside of a document – In word-processing and desktop-publishing programs, document settings, such as page orientation, are often stored inside documents. For example, when you queue a document to print, Microsoft Word typically stores the printing preferences you specified, such as page orientation and the printer name, inside the document. These settings appear by default the next time you print that document.
  • From changes a user made during a session – The system keeps only changes to the printing settings of an auto-created printer if the change was made in the Control Panel in the session; that is, on the Server OS machine.
  • On the Server OS machine – These are the default settings associated with a particular printer driver on the machine.

The settings preserved in any Windows-based environment vary according to where the user made the changes. This also means that the printing settings that appear in one place, such as in a spreadsheet program, can be different than those in others, such as documents. As result, printing settings applied to a specific printer can change throughout a session.

Hierarchy of user printing preferences

Because printing preferences can be stored in multiple places, the system processes them according to a specific priority. Also, it is important to note that device settings are treated distinctly from, and usually take precedence over, document settings.

By default, the system always applies any printing settings a user modified during a session (that is, the retained settings) before considering any other settings. When the user prints, the system merges and applies the default printer settings stored on the Server OS machine with any retained or client printer settings.

Saving user printing preferences

Citrix recommends that you do not change where the printer properties are stored. The default setting, which saves the printer properties on the user device, is the easiest way to ensure consistent printing properties. If the system is unable to save properties on the user device, it automatically falls back to the user profile on the Server OS machine.

Review the Printer properties retention policy setting if these scenarios apply:

  • If you use legacy plug-ins that do not allow users to store printer properties on a user device.
  • If you use mandatory profiles on your Windows network and want to retain the user’s printer properties.

Default print operations

Updated: 2013-06-18

By default, if you do not configure any policy rules, printing behavior is as follows:

  • The Universal Print Server is disabled.
  • All printers configured on the user device are created automatically at the beginning of each session.

    This behavior is equivalent to configuring the Citrix policy setting Auto-create client printers with the Auto-create all client printers option.

  • The system routes all print jobs queued to printers locally attached to user devices as client print jobs (that is, over the ICA channel and through the user device).
  • The system routes all print jobs queued to network printers directly from Server OS machines. If the system cannot route the jobs over the network, it will route them through the user device as a redirected client print job.

    This behavior is equivalent to disabling the Citrix policy setting Direct connection to print servers.

  • The system attempts to store printing properties, a combination of the user’s printing preferences and printing device-specific settings, on the user device. If the client does not support this operation, the system stores printing properties in user profiles on the Server OS machine.

    This behavior is equivalent to configuring the Citrix policy setting Printer properties retention with the Held in profile only if not saved on client option.

  • The system uses the Windows version of the printer driver if it is available on the Server OS machine. If the printer driver is not available, the system attempts to install the driver from the Windows operating system. If the driver is not available in Windows, it uses a Citrix Universal print driver.

    This behavior is equivalent to enabling the Citrix policy setting Automatic installation of in-box printer drivers and configuring the Universal printing setting with the Use universal printing only if requested driver is unavailable.

    Enabling Automatic installation of in-box printer drivers might result in the installation of a large number of native printer drivers.

Note: If you are unsure about what the shipping defaults are for printing, display them by creating a new policy and setting all printing policy rules to Enabled. The option that appears is the default.

Printing configuration example

Updated: 2013-06-18

Choosing the most appropriate printing configuration options for your needs and environment can simplify administration. Although the default print configuration enables users to print in most environments, the defaults might not provide the expected user experience or the optimum network usage and management overhead for your environment.

Your printing configuration depends upon:

  • Your business needs and your existing printing infrastructure.

    Design your printing configuration around the needs of your organization. Your existing printing implementation (whether users can add printers, which users have access to what printers, and so on) might be a useful guide when defining your printing configuration.

  • Whether your organization has security policies that reserve printers for certain users (for example, printers for Human Resources or payroll).
  • Whether users need to print while away from their primary work location, such as workers who move between workstations or travel on business.

When designing your printing configuration, try to give users the same experience in a session as they have when printing from local user devices.

Example print deployment

The following illustration shows the print deployment for these use cases:

  • Branch A – A small overseas branch office with a few Windows workstations. Every user workstation has a locally attached, private printer.
  • Branch B – A large branch office with thin clients and Windows-based workstations. For increased efficiency, the users of this branch share network-based printers (one per floor). Windows-based print servers located within the branch manage the print queues.
  • Home office – A home office with a Mac OS-based user device that accesses the company's Citrix infrastructure. The user device has a locally attached printer.

Sample print deployment diagram

The following sections describe the configurations which minimize the complexity of the environment and simplify its management.

Auto-created client printers and Citrix Universal printer driver

In Branch A, all users work on Windows-based workstations, therefore auto-created client printers and the Universal printer driver are used. Those technologies provide these benefits:

  • Performance – Print jobs are delivered over the ICA printing channel, thus the print data can be compressed to save bandwidth.

    To ensure that a single user printing a large document cannot degrade the session performance of other users, a Citrix policy is configured to specify the maximum printing bandwidth.

    An alternative solution is to leverage a multi-stream ICA connection, in which the print traffic is transferred within a separate low priority TCP connection. Multi-stream ICA is an option when Quality of Service (QoS) is not implemented on the WAN connection.

  • Flexibility – Use of the Citrix Universal printer driver ensures that all printers connected to a client can also be used from a virtual desktop or application session without integrating a new printer driver in the data center.

Citrix Universal Print Server

In Branch B, all printers are network-based and their queues are managed on a Windows print server, thus the Citrix Universal Print Server is the most efficient configuration.

All required printer drivers are installed and managed on the print server by local administrators. Mapping the printers into the virtual desktop or application session works as follows:

  • For Windows-based workstations – The local IT team helps users connect the appropriate network-based printer to their Windows workstations. This enables users to print from locally-installed applications.

    During a virtual desktop or application session, the printers configured locally are enumerated through autocreation. The virtual desktop or application then connects to the print server as a direct network connection if possible.

    The Citrix Universal Print Server components are installed and enabled, thus native printer drivers are not required. If a driver is updated or a printer queue is modified, no additional configuration is required in the data center.

  • For thin clients – For thin client users, printers must be connected within the virtual desktop or application session. To provide users with the simplest printing experience, administrators configure a single Citrix Session Printer policy per floor to connect a floor's printer as the default printer.

    To ensure the correct printer is connected even if users roam between floors, the policies are filtered based on the subnet or the name of the thin client. That configuration, referred to as proximity printing, allows for local printer driver maintenance (according to the delegated administration model).

    If a printer queue needs to be modified or added, Citrix administrators must modify the respective Session printer policy within the environment.

Because the network printing traffic will be sent outside the ICA virtual channel, QoS is implemented. Inbound and outbound network traffic on ports used by ICA/HDX traffic are prioritized over all other network traffic. That configuration ensures that user sessions are not impacted by large print jobs.

Auto-created client printers and Citrix Universal printer driver

For home offices where users work on non-standard workstations and use non-managed print devices, the simplest approach is to use auto-created client printers and the Universal printer driver.

Deployment summary

In summary, the sample deployment is configured as follows:

  • No printer drivers are installed on Server OS machines. Only the Citrix Universal printer driver is used. Fallback to native printing and the automatic installation of printer drivers are disabled.
  • A policy is configured to auto-create all client printers for all users. Server OS machines will directly connect to the print servers by default. The only configuration required is to enable the Universal Print Server components.
  • A session printer policy is configured for every floor of Branch B and applied to all thin clients of the respective floor.
  • QoS is implemented for Branch B to ensure excellent user experience.