Printing Defaults vs. Printing Preferences vs. Printing Properties – What to watch out for when changing settings

The look of a printed document is determined by the application creating the print job and the printer queue rendering the print job. Microsoft Windows allows users and administrators to set certain properties for printer queues like paper formats, orientation, trays, etc. through the “Settings” user interface of the printer driver. However, there are three ways to get to the “Settings” user interface and each of them has a different effect.

Printing Defaults vs. Printing Preferences vs. Printing Properties

Printing Defaults

When opening and making changes to the “Settings” user interface via the “Advanced” tab → “Printing Defaults”, the default settings of the printer queue are being read and written. These settings are stored in the registry under:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print\Printers\[NAME OF QUEUE]\Default DevMode

They determine the settings of all print jobs that pass through this printer queue as long as no Printing Preferences or Printing Properties have been configured by the user. Since changes to the Printing Defaults impact everyone using this printer queue, they can only be modified by an administrator account.

Setting printing defaults
Set printing defaults (using a Lexmark printer as an example)

Printing Preferences

When opening the “Settings” user interface via the “General” tab → “Preferences”, the current user can configure his own preferred settings for the printer queue. These Printing Preferences are initially the same as the Printing Defaults. However, as soon as the user saves any changes, a user specific configuration is saved in the registry.

For local printer queues the information will be stored in:

For network printer queues the information will be stored in:

As long as a registry value for the Printing Preferences exists, the Printing Defaults for this queue have no effect for this user.

Setting the printing preferences
Set the printing preferences via the “General” tab (using a Lexmark printer as an example)

Printing Properties

Opening the “Settings” user interface via the Printing Properties button of an application allows users to make changes to the settings which only apply to print jobs from this one application. The configuration is held in memory and discarded as soon as the application has been closed. The first time a user opens the Printing Properties, the system shows the settings configured in the Printing Preferences for this user and queue. If no Printing Preferences exist, the Printing Defaults are presented.

Application-specific printing properties
Define application-specific printing properties


As a result from these three types of printer queue settings, an administrator can define the default settings new users use, however, the administrator cannot update the settings a user uses after the user has made changes to the Printing Preferences. The only way to apply new Printing Defaults to everyone is by deleting the Printing Preferences values from the HKLM hive (HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE).

Users can configure printer queues the way they prefer by creating their own Printing Preferences. Applications will look for the Printing Preferences before applying Printing Defaults. However, Printing Preferences as well as Printing Defaults are superseded by application specific Printing Properties.

Printing PropertiesApp specific settingsIn appResets with closing of app
Printing PreferencesUser specific settingsIn HKCUTied to availability of User Profile and persistency of shared printers
Printing DefaultsQueue global settingsIn HKLMPersistent

Using Cost-Saving Printing Policies

ThinPrint’s virtual printer driver ThinPrint Output Gateway gives administrators the option of presetting cost-saving printing policies. The “Gray scale only” option specifies that users can generally only print in grayscale and the “Always print on both sides” default setting specifies duplex printing for users. These print settings make it easy to reduce printing costs and minimise paper consumption.

Cost-cutting printing policies
1. Cost-cutting printing policies have been activated in the ThinPrint Output Gateway.
Cost-cutting printing preferences pre-defined
2. Result: The corresponding options are now grayed out for all users in their sessions.

Simple and User-Friendly Printing with ThinPrint

Printing should always be simple and user-friendly. That’s why ThinPrint provides all users with a standardized and clearly laid out print dialog box for all environments and every printer. It lets users find the desired print function immediately – including finishing options such as hole-punch, staples, and binding and other enhanced functions.

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The ThinPrint Engine guarantees simple and user-friendly printing in a wide range of application scenarios and industries.

Tahani Khaled Avatar
Tahani Khaled