In a computer lab that different people use every day, you need to define the network printers for everyone by default. Windows 2000 lets an administrator easily configure a locally attached printer, which then automatically appears in the printer list for all system users. Configuring a network printer presents more of a challenge.

Many administrators use logon scripts to define the appropriate printers on a system for users. However, you can use a one-time operation that doesn't require logon scripts to complete this task.

Go to a command prompt and enter

rundll32.exe printui.dll,PrintUIEntry

The name of the entry point is case sensitive.

The /? option will give you a list of all the other options. The option you'll probably use most often is /ga /n\\server\printer. This command globally adds a printer that points to a print server queue.

To run the command remotely, simply add /c\\computername. You can combine these commands to easily set up an entire lab of computers in just a few minutes. To point to the lab's printer, use a list of commands such as

rundll32.exe printui.dll,
PrintUIEntry /ga /n\server\labprinter /c\labcomputer1

The next time a user logs on to the machine, the printer will automatically appear in the user's list of defined printers and in the Settings, Printers window. A limitation is that the command is computer-specific; if the user moves to another computer, the printer will no longer appear. If you add more than one printer, the first printer in the alphabetical list will be the user's default printer unless the user overrides it.

To check existing settings, use the command /ge. To delete settings, use /gd. The Microsoft Windows 2000 Server Resource Kit only briefly mentions this printing system management interface. In addition, the program has only one Help screen (i.e., Documentation). Experiment with the command to determine how to use it to meet your needs. The command works equally well for lab computers and in an office environment in which users occasionally share computers.