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Manage all your label printers, printer drivers, print jobs, and printing preferences for your entire system, all in one place.

As part of NiceLabel Cloud, Control Center helps you manage and expand your entire label printing system securely from your browser. From Control Center, you upload your printer drivers, connect printers, and install and update printers and drivers to computers in your system. Use printer groups to control who can access and manage specific printers. View your entire label printing system from Control Center, including current print jobs in all your queues, errors, required updates, and printer and computer statuses.

As part of NiceLabel Label Management System, Control Center integrates into your IT environment to give you secure browser-based central print management of your entire labeling printing system.

  • Global IT Administrators manage global printer installation, updates, settings, profiles, groups, licensing, and drivers, while centrally monitoring labeling in multiple locations.

  • Local IT Administrators manage local printer installation, provisioning, configuration, updates, settings, profiles, groups, and drivers while monitoring labeling in single locations to keep production running.

  • Print Operators adjust printing preferences for one or more label printers on your production lines in single locations to print labels.

Printer management helps you avoid downtime by maintaining and overseeing your entire label printing system from your browser, and helps you organize and expand labeling systems large and small.

Note

Centrally-managed printers are printers you operate and control from Control Center. When you add printers to Control Center, you can update printing preferences and printer installations from Control Center instead of using printer drivers on individual computers.

Example 16. How Printer Management helps

Without Printer Management, when you buy a new label printer for your production facility and plug it in, you have to manually call your IT manager to remotely connect your TCP/IP printer to your network. Once connected, to install your TCP/IP printer on the computer that runs your factory printers, you have to walk to the computer, download and install a printer driver, then install your connected printer with the driver on your computer. You have to repeat this process for each new printer and each time you want to update driver settings (like speed or darkness) for your printers or update your printer drivers.

With Printer Management, you can add your new TCP/IP printer to Control Center from any computer on your system. You upload the NiceLabel printer driver for your printer to Control Center and install the printer with the driver on the computer that runs your factory printers remotely. Now, you can install your new printers, update driver settings for your printers, and update your printer drivers in Control Center from anywhere.


Example 17. How Printer Management reduces complexity

Your company has a large printing system with multiple locations and multiple NiceLabel products installed. You have 50 TCP/IP label printers already connected to your system, and you want to install a new printer. You want to print from NiceLabel Automation on your 2 dedicated Automation servers where you have NiceLabel installed. You need to physically go to or remotely access the 2 servers (computers) and install your new printer (connected to your network via TCP/IP). On each computer, you go to the NiceLabel website, download the latest printer driver package for your printer, and use the driver package to successfully install your new printer.

In 6 months, you want to install more new printers on one of your computers. Again you have to go to your computer, go back to the NiceLabel website, download the latest driver packages for your new printers, and install your printers. The NiceLabel printer driver already running on your computer recognizes you're downloading a newer driver version and updates the driver for the previously installed printer without your knowledge. If you install a printer from a different manufacturer, when you download a new NiceLabel driver major release update, your previously installed driver also upgrades. Upgrading requires your computer to restart its spooler service, causing your production lines to stop. Because you have multiple computers in your environment and your computers run printers in multiple locations, that means production may stop in multiple factories. The other computer you didn't update still runs older driver versions to print on the same printers. You want to print the same label from multiple automation servers, but now they print correctly from one computer but not the other. When you investigate, you realize the problem is different driver versions. You have to do all that on a remote connection while running Control Center in a confined environment.

To avoid problems in your complex system, you decide to use Printer Management to install printers using the correct printer drivers while keeping your entire printing environment updated automatically so all your computers use the same updated versions of all your drivers.


The Printers interface

Go to Control Center > Printers > Overview to see information about your centrally managed printing environment, recent provisioning operations, and your list of print queues.

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The Printers > Overview page includes:

  1. Additional tabs you can click to see detailed information and take more actions:

  2. Details about your printing Environment, including how many Printers, Computers, Profiles, and Driver Packages you have connected to Control Center. Click the links to visit relevant tabs.

    Click Details to open your detailed list of centrally managed printers in your system.

  3. Recent Provisioning Operations.

  4. Your list of centrally-managed Print Queues.

    A print queue is a virtual concept~a holding area for storing spooled print jobs while the printer is trying to catch up. You don't actually send print jobs to printers, you send them to print queues until printers start printing at print time. A print queue doesn't require a printer~ it continues to accept jobs while the printer is offline (like while being repaired).

    For more information, read Print Queues in Computers.

Printer vocabulary

Table 1. Printer vocabulary

Printer

A printer is a physical hardware device~ the actual printer that prints out labels, tickets, or tags.

Types of printers:

  • Local printers are printers directly connected to computers with cables like USB or serial ports. You can't install or manage local printers in Control Center.

  • Network printers are printers that connect to computers via TCP/IP (RAW or LPR/LPD) or network ports. Network printers are the printers you can centrally manage in Control Center.

  • Cloud printers connect directly to our Cloud Printing service without drivers. You can view cloud printers in Control Center, but you can't manage or install them. For more information, read Cloud Printers.

  • Shared printers are printers you install on print servers and mark as "shared" in your system. You can view and manage shared printers in Control Center, but you can't install shared printers using Control Center.

Centrally Managed printer

A centrally managed printer is a printer that is operated and controlled by Control Center. When you add a printer to Control Center, you can manage printing preferences and printer installation from Control Center.

Computer

A computer is a machine that connects to printers and sends printers data and instructions to print out labels.

Computers can be:

  • Desktop or laptop computers.

  • Servers or virtual machines.

Printer driver

A printer driver is a piece of software that allows computers to communicate with printers and send print requests. Printer drivers have two main functions:

  • Serving as a bridge between the computer and the printer, allowing the computer to understand the details and hardware specifications of the printer.

  • Transforming print job data into a language the printer can understand. Each printer has a unique driver written in printer-specific language for that printer model and manufacturer.

Driver package

A driver package is a .zip bundle of the all files you need (like .inf and .dll files) to install printer drivers on Windows for a specific manufacturer. When you download your driver packages for free from NiceLabel, you're downloading a bundle of all the drivers for all the supported printer models of that specific manufacturer.

Preferred driver

A preferred driver is the printer driver package you choose to install and use specific printers or groups of printers and for generating centrally managed printing preferences for those printers.

Print job

A print job is a document or set of documents you send to a print queue to be printed.

Print queue

A print queue is a virtual concept~a holding area for storing spooled print jobs while the printer is trying to catch up. You don't actually send print jobs to printers, you send them to print queues until printers start printing at print time. A print queue doesn't require a printer~ it continues to accept jobs while the printer is offline (like while being repaired).

Installed printer

An installed printer is a printer connected to a computer with a driver through an installation process. You start the process by installing a printer driver on a computer and using it to create a print queue. When you browse "installed" printers in your Windows Control Panel, you aren't actually viewing printers, you're viewing the print queues your drivers create on your computer during the installation process. You can manage this process centrally for your computers, printers, and driver packages in Control Center.

Printing preferences

Printing preferences are the instructions that tell each printer how to print labels. Printing preferences include settings for printing media like media size, media type, and rotation. Printing preferences may also include more printing settings (like speed and darkness) depending on your printer model.

Driver profile

A driver profile is a set of printing preferences linked to a specific printer driver. Putting printing preferences in profiles allows many printers to share the same set of printing preferences without the need for duplication.

Printer model

A printer model is a name given by the printer manufacturer to a type of physical printer device.

Group

Use groups to organize your computers and printers into logical structures that reflect the structure of your printing environment or setup. Use groups to define access rights and give only certain users access to your computers and printers.


How printer management works

Printing preferences

Printing preferences are the instructions that tell each printer how to print labels. Printing preferences include settings for printing media like media size, media type, and rotation. Printing preferences may also include more printing settings (like speed and darkness) depending on your printer model.

With previous versions, you stored your printing preferences in NiceLabel inside individual label templates or within printer drivers on individual computers. This approach wasn't good enough for enterprise environments with thousands of labels, because each change you made to printing preferences had to be applied to all the labels. If you had your printing preferences stored in drivers on computers, then each change to printing preferences had to be applied individually on each computer you printed from.

Now, when you print on centrally managed printers from Control Center, you can instruct your printer to use printing preferences stored in Control Center. If you still have printing preferences stored in your label or locally on the computer that sends the print command, you now have the option to override those preferences and apply the preferences stored in Control Center instead.

Control Center applies your stored printing preferences in DEVMODE at print time. When computers send print commands to centrally managed printers, Control Center replaces the printing preferences computers send with print their commands with the DEVMODE printing preferences stored in Control Center. You can edit printing preferences directly in Control Center with a GUI editor if you use NiceLabel version 10 printer drivers or newer. Older printer drivers require raw DEVMODE strings.

Printer installation process

Typically, printing environments have TCP/IP printers installed on computers. To print a label, you need:

  • NiceLabel installed on a computer.

  • Your printer.

  • Your printer driver (uploaded to Control Center).

To print labels, you need to add your printer to Control Center and install it on your computer from Control Center along with your printer driver.

  • Adding printers to Control Center means saving printer properties like printer name and IP address in Control Center. With your printers added, you can install them.

  • Installing printers from Control Center means sending your printer information (like IP address and name) along with the printer driver required for your printer from Control Center to your computer for installation.

During installation, when your computer receives the driver and printer information, NiceLabel uses the driver to create a print queue on your computer. On your computer, the NiceLabel Proxy service (which installs on your computer when you install NiceLabel 10) receives the driver and printer information and installs the printer. The NiceLabel Proxy service enables necessary communication between printers, Control Center, and NiceLabel applications installed on individual computers in your printing environment.

From Control Center, once your printers are installed, you can centrally:

  • Delete print queues.

  • Clear, pause, and resume print queues.

  • Update your printer drivers.