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I've noticed two options for deploying printers via group policy:

  1. Create and link Group Policy in GP Management, add printer(s) via User Configuration > Preferences > Control Panel Settings > Printers.

  2. Go to Print Management mmc, right click on printer share and select Deploy with Group Policy. Then select the GPO name you'd like to use.

Are either of these preferred or recommended? It seems they do work a bit differently... I currently use the second option to deploy printers, but I cannot go into the GPO that I deployed them to and modify it (it is blank.)

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That's because there are two GPO-based ways to deploy a printer. You found one of them. The other:

User Configuration -> Windows Settings -> Deployed Printers (You need Print Services component installed to see this.)

It's that location where the Print Management MMC puts the deployed printers. Both methods will send a printer to a client, though they use slightly different methods for actually making that happen.

WHY did Microsoft allow two deployment methods? That I can't tell you, though it's probably based on the fact that the entire "Preferences" part of a GPO was an add-on that used to be supplied by a separate company before Microsoft bought them out and it's still with us for legacy reasons.

One difference between the two, though. With the Preferences method, you can set a printer as the Default Printer for a user. You can't do that with the Windows Settings method.

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Definitely because it was an add-on. Another key benefit of Preferences is the ability to target based on a host of factors (site, subnet, security group... etc). – Jordan W. Feb 8 '12 at 23:10

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