Enhance your remote printing experience with Parallels RAS universal printing

Enjoy out-of-the-box printing from published applications and desktops using Parallels Remote Application Server (RAS) universal printing.

Introduction to Parallels RAS universal printing

Parallels RAS Universal Printing is designed to enhance the printing experience in virtualized and remote environments. As businesses increasingly rely on remote work and published applications and desktop infrastructures, the need for efficient and seamless printing solutions has become crucial.

This cutting-edge technology bridges the gap between local and remote printing, effortlessly allowing users to print from their virtualized applications or desktops to any local or network printer.

By eliminating compatibility issues and simplifying the printing process, Parallels RAS Universal Printing empowers organizations to deliver a seamless user experience across diverse computing environments, streamlining workflows and increasing productivity.

Parallels RAS offers the ability to enable printer redirection to the remote session. This allows users to have access to all (or a subset) of their locally available printers. This is a very common request, of course, but “RDP printer redirection not working” is a common issue Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS) / Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) environments.

Those environments do provide basic printing functionality, but in order to support commonly requested advanced printing scenarios, a third-party solution would have to be in place. Parallels RAS provides these advanced printing capabilities out of the box by offering great user and admin experience, all included in the same license. This goes far beyond the default remote desktop printer redirection and client printer redirection setting (easy print) you can configure for the Microsoft RDP client.

This blog post covers the features that Parallels RAS Universal Printing offers for both end users and administrators. We also compare features with native Microsoft printing solutions for Remote Desktop Services (Remote Desktop Session Host) and Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) and elaborate on the enhancements you can expect.

Printing features and functionality

Parallels RAS provides compression, multi-functional support, increased performance, and an optimized user experience. The table below shows a summary of the main printing capabilities that Parallels RAS provides out of the box.

Features and functionality Parallels RAS Universal Printing Microsoft RDS/AVD native
Redirect local printers Yes  Yes 
Allow redirection of specific printers for a specific group or user Yes  Limited (no option to choose specific printers to redirect) 
Dynamically update the default printer upon local change Yes No (requires logoff & logon) 
Dynamically Update redirected printers based on local changes (add, remove, update) Yes  No (requires logoff & logon) 
Control the naming convention of redirected printers Yes  No 
Average time to recreate 10 redirected printers upon session reconnect ˜1 second ˜10 seconds
Broad client OS support (Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS and Web clients) Yes  Limited (depending on client OS) 
Attach non-default fonts to print jobs, cache fonts to speed up printing, automatically distribute fonts to Session Host servers Yes  No
Option to launch a published application only after redirected printers are ready Yes  No 
Client printer can start printing just after the first page is ready on the server (with EMF). Yes No 
Allow configuring print jobs to be sent as images to avoid vector drawing on client and optimize printing for specific devices Yes  No 

Printing scenarios and provided benefits

Parallels RAS can support various printers without the need to install drivers. This removes the risk of printer driver conflicts and eliminates the need for separate policies, third party tools, and scripts. It also provides access to any local printer installed. The ease of management and ease of access results in lower operational costs.

Parallels RAS Universal Printing optimizes printing processes by compressing print data, reducing the amount of bandwidth required for print jobs. This optimization can be particularly helpful when working with limited bandwidth connections or in remote locations.

What’s more, Parallels RAS simplifies printer management for IT administrators. There is no need to switch to group policy or custom scripts. You can centrally manage and control printers, printer drivers, fonts, and printing policies from a single console, saving time and effort in managing printing infrastructure.

For users in remote environments, Parallels RAS offers reliable and consistent printing capabilities and improves the overall user experience. Administrators can configure policies and conditions to control which printers a user has access to. Users are provided with printer preferences identical to locally available printers including advanced settings when using, for example, multi-functional- or multi-label printers.

Parallels RAS also significantly speeds up the time needed to (re)connect printers at logon or when reconnecting to an existing session. This allows for a smooth and transparent printing experience.

Universal printing technical details and examples

This section covers specific technical details of the universal printing features more in-depth. Combined, these features provide the enterprise print management you need without additional licenses or 3rd party tools.

Central tooling eliminates the need for multiple group policies

Where Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (remote desktop or remote app) requires multiple Group Policy settings to configure the remote desktop session host, with Parallels RAS you can easily create policies to control local printer redirection for specific users or groups. The policies allow you to control the settings that are delivered to the Parallels Client options on the client side.

Disabling / enabling printer redirection for specific users or groups

A very common request is to allow specific printer redirection for one specific group and deny it for others (or vice versa). Parallels RAS allows you to enable and disable redirection specific subsets of local printers. With native Microsoft RDS/AVD (easy print) you can allow client printer redirection and you have options to not allow local printer redirection, but you cannot choose which specific printers to redirect.

Disabling or enabling printer printer redirection for specific users or groups

Dynamically updating the default printer

Microsoft RDS/AVD (easy print) and Parallels RAS both allow you to configure the option to only redirect the default printers. If the default local printer changes during the session when using Microsoft RDS/AVD, however, it is not changed dynamically on the remote desktop server and users must reconnect to the updated one. With Parallels RAS, the default local printer is updated dynamically on the remote session without the requirement to reconnect. This allows for a great user experience.

Dynamically updating the default printer

Dynamic Printer Redirection

Besides dynamically updating the default printer, Parallels RAS also offers full dynamic printer redirection. If a user makes a change to any of the local printer preferences during a session, the redirected printer follows these changes. This means the changes can be seen directly in the redirected printer preferences UI and they will be used for the next printing job initiated from the session.

Furthermore, if a user redirects all local printers and subsequently adds, deletes, or renames some of these printers, the changes are reflected in the remote session accordingly, without having to close and reopen the remote desktop connection. This enhances the user experience and allows for a very smooth, dynamic, and transparent printing experience.

This video show cases dynamic printer redirection in action.

Controlling the naming convention of redirected printers

When using printer redirection with native RDS/AVD based on easy print, the name of redirected printer has a postfix similar to“(redirected 3)”, for example. You cannot control the naming convention that is being used, which is a common request to make things more transparent for the end user. With Parallels RAS, the redirected printer name can be controlled according to a specified naming pattern which can include variables like client name, client printer name, username, and session ID.

Controlling the naming convention of redirected printers

Renaming redirected printers

Speeding up printer redirection at logon and at reconnect

Parallels RAS provides faster printer redirection. With native RDS/AVD, redirection of printers can be quite slow. Parallels RAS provides a significantly faster experience during logon as previously used printer preferences are cached on the client, and pre-installed common drivers are used on the remote side for all redirected printers.

Furthermore, with Parallels RAS printers are set to offline when a session is disconnected, and these printers go online again upon reconnecting. This significantly speeds up reconnection and avoids losing printers used by traditional Windows applications that need all printers to be known at application start.

The screenshot below shows this in action, and changing all printers from offline to ready only takes about a second to complete. On average, this is about ten times faster than native RDS/AVD.

Speeding up printer redirection at logon and at reconnect

The video below shows the speedy printer availability upon session reconnect compared to Native RDS/AVD.

Broad client support and printing formats support

The Parallels RAS universal printing features are available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS and Web clients. For macOS, there is also a pre-defined software printer to save a printout in PDF. Furthermore, Parallels RAS universal printing supports different printing formats for printing jobs delivered to the client. These include EMF (for Windows clients only), PDF, BMP, and RAW, where native RDS/AVD only supports XPS.

EMF is used when you need to print vector graphics or high-quality images with transparency support. PDF is often selected when you need to share or print documents while preserving the layout and formatting across different devices and operating systems, and it can be efficient when documents contain a lot of repetitive content. BMP is used when you require an uncompressed and lossless format for high-quality images and when the file size is not a primary concern. Select XPS (Windows only) to create documents with complex layouts and graphics and maintain document fidelity across different platforms. And finally, RAW is used when you need to retain the maximum amount of image data captured by a digital camera, especially in professional photography and image editing.

Parallels RAS offers you the flexibility and freedom of choice to select the printing formats that best suit any given environment.

Broad client support and printing formats support

Working with fonts and caching

If a printed document references a font installed on the server, Parallels RAS delivers that font (if it is not specified in the exclusion or pre-installed list) together with the printing job to rasterize on the client side by the physical printer driver. Furthermore, the delivered fonts are also cached on the client, and for cached fonts only their hash is transferred. This avoids unneeded traffic between server and client and speeds up the process.

Specific fonts can also be automatically distributed to all Session Host servers, and then automatically installed on the Windows client during first connection. This provides a very smooth experience when working with non-embedded fonts. With native RDS/AVD easy print there is no option to properly print with a non-embedded font if it is absent on the client-side.

Working with fonts and caching

Printer policy properties

Wait for printers before starting published applications

A very common scenario with some traditional Windows applications is that printers need to be present before launching an application to avoid the situation where those Windows applications can’t see the printers, although they are present. To overcome this, Parallels RAS universal printing has an option to launch a published application only after redirected printers appear. This avoids users having to close and re-open applications in order to be able to print from that specific application.

Wait for printers before starting published applications

Faster start of print jobs

With Parallels RAS universal printing in the EMF format, the client printer starts printing right after the first page is ready on the server. Then the server-side sends the pages that are ready to print one-by-one. This significantly speeds up printing of larger multi-paged documents. The option is configurable by setting the client-side printer advanced options and applies to printing from the web client and mobile clients as well.


With hybrid and remote work becoming the new standard, transparent, seamless, and effortless printing is required —beyond the option to allow client printer redirection. Furthermore, many traditional and business critical applications have strict requirements on the availability of printers, printer preferences, fonts, and settings.

Parallels RAS Universal Printing eliminates issues with these requirements and empowers organizations to streamline processes and increase their productivity by delivering a seamless printing experience. “RDP printer redirection not working” scenarios belong in the past. Universal printing can be applied to Windows Server and Windows client operating systems. The Universal Printing feature comes with Parallels RAS out of the box at no additional cost.

Interested in learning more about how Parallels RAS can make IT administration easier for your organization?

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