Printing to a local printer



Printing to a local printer

If you have a subscription which includes printing, you can print files to a printer near you providing RealVNC Viewer is running on a desktop computer.

This powerful feature is ready to use out-of-the-box. Connect using RealVNC Viewer and print in the usual way for the application you are using, for example by selecting File > Print.

Your local printer is automatically shared with the RealVNC Server computer and made its default while the connection is in progress, so the correct printer should already be selected.

The diagram outlines what this looks like:


A. Local printer. B. Desktop computer running RealVNC Viewer. Printer A must be the default printer. C. Computer running RealVNC Server, and hosting the files to print.

To see RealVNC Connect's printing in action, watch the video below:

Remote printing is not available when using RealVNC Connect for Mobile (Android and iOS).

Manipulating the quality of the print finish

A best possible quality print finish is attempted. This may mean the contents of the file are scaled to fit the dimensions of the local printer’s paper. If the results are unexpected, you might be able to manipulate them.

The quality of the print finish is determined by the characteristics of the local printer. For example, if the file is a colour photo but the local printer only prints in black and white, then colour will be lost.

You may be able to configure printer options in order to achieve a better quality print finish. You should do this before you connect in the expected way for your operating system, for example by selecting Control Panel > Devices and Printers under Windows.

If you are already connected, then you may be able to configure some printing preferences for the application you are printing from. This may include rotating pages, changing the page order, choosing a number of pages per sheet, and advanced options such as changing the resolution or paper size. For more information, consult the application’s documentation.

Troubleshooting printing

If you cannot print, check the following:

  1. Does your subscription include printing? You can check the subscription plan images at the top of this article if you are unsure.
  2. Is the local printer connected to your computer? Is it switched on? Is it ready to print? Does it have paper? Is it set as the default printer?
  3. Has RealVNC Viewer been configured to prevent your local printer becoming the default printer for the RealVNC Server computer when you connect? If so, the local printer will not be automatically selected, so the print request may have been sent to the wrong printer.

    Note that if another RealVNC Viewer user connected to the same computer before you, then their local printer will be the default. You cannot change this. You will always have to explicitly select your local printer when you print.

    If you have to explicitly select your local printer, it will have a name of the form <printer-name> via VNC from <VNC-Viewer-computer-name>, for example HP Color LaserJet CP2020 via VNC from Neptune

  4. Has RealVNC Server been configured to disable printing? If you have access, check global permissions on the RealVNC Server Options > Users & Permissions page.
  5. Has RealVNC Server been configured to prevent you printing? If you have access, check permissions for the user you are registered as on the Options > Users & Permissions page.
  6. Linux only
    If you are using Red Hat-compatible Linux and SELinux is enabled during your installation of RealVNC Server, the RealVNC policy modules used to fix this issue are registered automatically.

    If SELinux is enabled after you upgrade, run vncinitconfig -register-SELinux to register the policy modules manually.

    If you are using Debian-compatible Linux, you must register the policy modules manually.
  7. Linux only
    If your device is using the "PrivateTmp" system security feature, which can be enabled on a per-service basis, services running with this enabled have a private /tmp directory which is not shared with other processes.

    The CUPS service has this feature enabled by default, which explains why it cannot connect to the VNC Server printing socket in /tmp. PrivateTmp must be disabled for CUPS for the RealVNC CUPS driver to work.
    1. Copy the file /lib/systemd/system/cups.service to /etc/systemd/system/cups.service to create a local copy that won't be reverted by package updates.
    2. Edit /etc/systemd/system/cups.service by commenting out the line PrivateTmp=true with a hash sign.
    3. Run systemctl daemon-reload; systemctl restart cups.service
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