I’m frustrated

How Do I change Thunderbird Printer Default Selection? ANSWERED: reset print.print_printer

Every time I want to print an email Thunderbird (Version 3.1.1) selects my inkjet printer rather than my laserjet which is the system default printer. How do I change print settings in Thunderbird 3 to system default printer?

Russell Orr
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  • 1
    This subject has been asked numerous times. I suggest that Mozilla Thunderbird make it easier to change the setting.

    The average user should not have to go to "ADVANCED" or to the "CONFIG EDITOR".
    • re:The average user should not have to go to "ADVANCED" or to the "CONFIG EDITOR".

      It's not rocket science. One of the best things about Thunderbird is the fact that modifications etc can be done by the 'average user'.

      It is not standard to have very easy access to changing such settings for very obvious reasons. People have a tendency to click on things without meaning to, so having a process with easy to follow instructions that makes people think carefully about what they are doing with configuration settings is sensible.

      Usually the printer is default and therefore ok.
      When selecting Print, it is also easy to choose the printer.

      However, for auto selecting the correct printer, there are occasions when this needs fixing as you have discovered. The information, help and easy to follow instructions that work is all freely available.
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  • Hi Richard

    I agree completely. This is a ridiculous situation after so long a period. It is the same with the ability to print web pages as they are rather than with individual frames printed separately. However this is not only an issue in FF it is a similar situation in IE and Chrome.
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  • I also agree that it should be easier, in most software it is and most people do not have a problem with that. After all printers die and need replacing.
    • Hugh, if one has printed from Print Preview (which sets the TB default printer) and then disposes of that printer (presumably installing another), there is no trigger in the operating system for TB to hear about this. If one resets the "print_printer" parameter in the Config table, TB will use the system default printer (XP at least). But if the "print_printer" parameter is set, I don't think TB looks to see if that printer still exists. Good thing to add to the suggestion list! Thanks.
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  • 1
    Anje
    Yes, it is not rocket science. And printer control settings are the bane of anyone who gets a new printer, and it really ought to be an easily available control without fear of making some other fatal change!

    Jim Eagle
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  • "Every time I want to print an email Thunderbird (Version 3.1.1) selects my inkjet printer rather than my laserjet which is the system default printer."

    I've been using TB for years and have never had a problem with printer selection. It remembers the last printer used. Period. That's how it was designed.

    If this fellow's installation always selects one particular printer AND that printer was NOT the LAST printer he used ... then I suspect his problem is not with TB but rather his permissions, installation, and/or system setup.

    All that flailing around in the Config Editor, et al, is pointless. Just select the desired printer from the print dialogue box that ALWAYS appears during the normal print process. THAT printer will be remembered til the cows come home ... or there is a problem with THAT installation. Perhaps you do not have sufficient permission to store settings. Perhaps your installer didn't do something properly and your user files are not set up properly. This is especially a problem after Windows XP when Microsoft got so screwy with their user permissions.
    • view 5 more comments
    • From all of these comments it sounds like I must always double check what TB/Firefox selects and change printers if not the originally installed printer on the W7 laptop. The above comment about my XP laptop is correct, it always selects the default printer regardless of which printer was originally installed on it. Very questionable programming for going forward!
    • Rob, you must be very influential. Folks have been copying your comment left and right in this thread (like that old commercial where the room comes to a stand still when some famous Wall Streeter opened his mouth to speak! LoL).

      Anyhow, since I wrote this comment 4 months ago I've learned a lot more about how this works in XP (and we were both right ... and wrong ... sigh). It's all documented below. But this week I will be trying TB out on a Win7 laptop so stay tuned to see if it works differently. Have a great weekend!
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  • Sam
    It is clear you do not share a PC and two printers with a wife who is technology averse, very bright otherwise but impatient with "too many steps."
    Jim
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    • In re to the "remembered" printer issue, see my Executive Summary below.

      In re to "moving past" observation, I would opine that the world didn't move on past XP ... Microsoft is dragging the world, kicking and screaming, on to their next grand scheme: computing by subscription. Office 360 is just the first of many changes as they begin the process of coercing everyone into the "cell phone generation"'s mind set (that nothing is owned and all must be rented on a monthly basis). In other words, the monopoly is making it's move to endless, reliable cash flow. Time will tell if the frog boils to death without protest or not.
    • Hi Jim. Well now we know. Turns out the TB default is reliable BUT dependant on how you printed from TB (which is now all documented below for XP at least). This week I'll be installing TB on my grandson's new Win7 laptop and we'll see what kind of can'o'worms that opens up. LoL
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  • I always (yes, ALWAYS) see a printer selection dialogue. That's here on Linux, and at work in both Windows XP and Windows 7. How do you get to a position where a wrong printer is being selected for you automatically?

    You all remind me of why I chose to stop using Windows where at all possible... ;)
    • I know what you mean, Xenos. I know what you mean. If I didn't already have decades of investment in PC-related "stuff" not to mention nearly all of my business and personal interactions are with PC users, I would have jumped ship to the penguin years ago. LoL

      And, yes, I ALWAYS get a print dialogue box allowing one to select their printer of choice before printing with Windows XP. God only knows what happens in Windows 7 or their new toy, Win 8 (what a cartoon mess that is; an operating system designed for "apps" geared to the cell phone generation intent solely on sharing pictures of "things" on their social networks. Eeewwww. Gag me! LoL).
    • Curious, Xenos. Now that we know TB uses the "print_printer" parameter to lock in a TB default printer on Windows (XP at least), if you reset "print_printer" on Linux and restart TB, does it default to the Linux default printer (1) on startup, (2) after printing once (NOT from Print Preview), and (3) after printing once using a different printer (NOT from Print Preview). Then, does using Print Preview "lock in" the printer used (the "print_printer" parameter will be set to the printer used)? And after that does TB always default to that printer instead of the Linux system default printer? It's not as complicated to do as it is to say!! LoL BTW, the TB Config table updates in real time! Open the table and type the word "print" in the Config search box and scroll down to where the "print_printer" parameter does or would appear. Reset it if it is already there before running the tests. It will come back or be set when you print from Print Preview (at least that's how it works on XP).

      Or not. I know that sounds like a lot but I don't know any other Linux users around here so .. ;-)
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  • Executive Summary
    -------------------------

    TB Print Dialogue; default printer selection.

    If the "print_printer" TB Preference has been reset, the TB print dialogue window will always use the Windows default printer regardless of which printer was used last; UNTIL one prints from the TB Print Preview screen. Thereafter, the TB print dialogue window will default to the last printer used on the Print Preview screen.

    Tested with Windows XP MCE 2005 SP3 and TB 17.0.6

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    [ I use the word, parameter, interchangeably with "Preference" (the TB term). ]

    At some point I get tired of the verbiage and tackle the problem.

    I suspect that Mr. Mackay's solution above merely removes an [older?] unused print parameter (print.print_printer). I say that because after "resetting" it, it disappears on the next restart and I haven't seen it return yet (after multiple reboots and restarts).

    It does not address the problem of which printer TB remembers.

    A couple hours of testing revealed an interesting anomaly in TB's print dialogue code: it's broken in such a way that veterans like myself -- who NEVER trust the print-ability of a page and ALWAYS use Print Preview -- will see the print code working properly: TB saves the last printer used. Period. Always. Through reboots and restarts.

    BUT.

    If one does NOT go through Print Preview, that TB parameter doesn't change so subsequent print dialogues will open with whatever printer was used in the last Print Preview session!

    In other words, TB only remembers the last printer it used from a Print Preview screen.

    The parameter associated with Print Preview is

    print_printer user setting string x [where x is the Windows name of the printer]

    And here is the twist:

    If one resets that parameter using the same process as Mr. Mackay describes above, TB will ALWAYS resort to the default system printer no matter which printer was last selected to print AS LONG AS the user does NOT print from Print Preview (leaving that parameter in it's "reset" state). As soon as one prints from Print Preview screen, the "print_printer" parameter is set and from then on TB defaults to the last printer used in Print Preview.
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  • From all of these comments it sounds like I must always double check what TB/Firefox selects and change printers if not the originally installed printer on my W7 laptop. The above comment about my XP laptop is correct, it always selects the default printer regardless of which printer was originally installed on it. Very questionable programming for going forward! This means that we all will have many problems when we replace our printers or purchase a used printer!
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  • Sam,

    Thanks so much! It even works fine on my W7 laptop when I turn TB off and reboot it. I even changed my default printer back to HP 4400 from HP 5900 and then tried the Print Preview procedure again and as long as I changed to HP5900 it stayed HP 5900.

    Rob
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  • I believe that "print preview" is "app-discrete", right? If so, then moz could add a "select printer" button to "print preview" menu bar? Might that be the easiest way to solve this rather than add another dialog button as follows, "options>advanced>select default printer" and have a dropdown list to include "make last printer selected the default" with an additional dropdown "always/this time only"... and so forth.
    -Simple, complicated & irritating problem.
    -Jim, my wife also is extremely smart (even tho she married me), did code in college. But that was years ago. She too is v. impatient with some techie things & prob. would never see the words "about:config" if they were a lampost that she ran into. So I fixed it - till she uses "print preview" and changes it. So I've pasted that Rx to an email & once she's read that she will remember it.
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    • Awesome!
      Following the initial instructions, I reset the print.print_printer line.

      I then tested it by selecting an email to print, however I first went to "print preview" and from that preview window then selected "print" and the printer that
      I want Thunderbird to use as the default printer.

      I printed the email and then closedTthunderbird.

      I reopened Thunderbird,and selected another email to print.
      Sure enough, the print dialog box came up with the printer that I want as the default.
      THANK YOU ALL !
    • ^ Anje: Thunderbird always uses the system default printer ... as long as you have reset the "print_printer" parameter and never printed from Print Preview. You can preview and that doesn't change Thunderbird's default printer. BUT, printing from Print Preview locks in whatever printer you have selected. Some folks like it that way so the solution in your case is never to print from Print Preview. Voilà!

      I have suggested to Mozilla that they put a selector on the Option page to allow the user to select (1) the way it works right now, (2) the system default printer always, (3) the system default printer just on startup, or (4) the last printer chosen by the user regardless of startup. All of these choices are readily possible using the dialogues and CONFIG parameters already in place. Given the current operation description I could probably even write the update.
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    • On XP Thunderbird printer selection works reliably and has been documented.

      I suspect something in Windows 7 is causing the problem. This is not a new issue to Windows 7 users in-the-know.

      My grandson has picked up a Windows 7 laptop and this week I will put Thunderbird on it to see what Uncle Bill's crew have got themselves into this time. LoL
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  • Thank you Roy and others your info re default printer settings in Thunderbird is still bringing joy to Thunderbird users the world over and 3 years on. Why can't Mozilla fix this.

    Bob Perry Australia
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  • Could someone or more than one on this thread please advise:

    In the config editor search for print.save_print_settings.

    Is this set to true in your case? When set to true, the last used prin details are supposed to be saved.

    Config Editor.
    Choose Tools menu –> Options –> Advanced –> General and press the Config Editor... button.
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  • I’m frustrated
    I reset the print.print_printer line. Shut and reoppened TB. selecting an email to print continues in error to come up with an old disconnected printer as default. The print.print_printer line has disappeared from the editor and my other software is obedient and prints with the last selected printer.
    Any more ideas?
    • The "print.print_printer" parameter is an old leftover from a much earlier version.

      You must reset the "print_printer" parameter using similar process as Mackay kindly describes above.

      On XP, after you reset "print_printer", Thunderbird will default to the default system printer on every print dialogue (even if you use a different printer once). BUT IF you print from Print Preview, whatever printer you selected becomes the new Thunderbird default printer. This selection will stand regardless of restarts until you (1) reset the "print_printer" parameter and restart TB, or (2) select a different printer while printing from Print Preview. Some people like it that way. Some don't. A suggested change has been submitted. We'll see.

      After XP, freaky security rules may get in the way as well as other funky things post-XP OS's are doing. I'm testing Win7 this week. I'm still avoiding Win8.
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  • The printer line is modified in my latest version Of Thunderbird.
    Do you have a line ..

    print_printer that still shows your old printer?

    Reset that one.

    You did change the default printer setting in your operating system first?
    • No need to change the system default printer unless of course you wanted to; LoL (XP). The "print_printer" parameter is the current parameter for holding the default Thunderbird printer. If it is not set, Thunderbird uses the default system printer.

      The "print.print_printer" parameter is the leftover default printer selector from an older version and should be reset no matter what. Then it will automatically disappear on the next TB restart.

      You will also see in the Config listing (assuming you entered "print" without the quotes in the Config search box) a number of printer parameters that start thusly for example:

      print.printer_Canon_S820.print_unwriteable_margin_bottom user set integer 0

      these are old parameters and no longer used.

      The new parameter for this same setting appears thusly:

      printer_Canon_S820.print_unwriteable_margin_top user set integer 0

      (Note that newer parameters lack the ".printer" part of the parameter name.)

      I'm not sure how to get rid of the older parameters yet but am working on it.
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  • I have done a little more reading and I see this problem in a slightly different light.

    Don Mackey's "fix" removes an old print parameter named print.print_printer. As far as I can tell, its use was discontinued several versions ago but it can cause problems with printer selection (apparently).

    If one finds that parameter, resetting it and re-starting ThunderBird should get rid of that parameter and whatever problem it was causing.

    HOWEVER ... it may not fix the default printer selection problem.

    To start with a blank print_printer parameter, reset it using the Don Mackey's instructions (only one is resetting print_printer instead) and restart ThunderBird. This will eliminate the print_printer parameter when you restart. It does not matter if this parameter re-appears later as long as it stays blank (ie, reset to default string [nothing]).

    If one ONLY uses Print (either from the menu or the Tool Bar), the print_printer parameter will not re-appear or be assigned a value if it is present; and every time the print dialogue window opens it will use the system default printer EVEN IF one selects a different printer from ThunderBird to print one document and then later opens the print dialogue a second time to print a second document.

    AND ...

    one can preview (for printing) a document as long as they do NOT touch the print button during the preview.

    BUT ...

    if one prints their message from the Print Preview screen, the Print Preview process will, if necessary create the print_printer parameter, and then set the print_printer parameter to the printer that was selected at that time.

    This now becomes the new default printer for ThunderBird because ThunderBird checks for this parameter first and uses it, if found, to set the default printer for its print dialogue windows. Even if restarted, ThunderBird will use this printer as the default instead of the default system printer.

    IF one uses Print Preview to print, that printer will be the new ThunderBird default printer until either (1) one uses the Don Mackey "reset" process to get rid of the print_printer parameter, or (2) one selects a different printer to print with in Print Preview.

    I have tested this several times under Windows XP and this is how it works (ThunderBird 17.0.8).

    Having said all that, I like the idea that ThunderBird can retain its own default printer. Many times I'm archiving so having it locked onto Win2PDF instead of the system printer is very, very handy.

    I think the best solution is to:

    (1) make the process the same for both print dialogue routes (normal and preview). In other words, if one changes the printer, ThunderBird "remembers" that printer using the print_printer parameter until the user changes it. Optionally, that parameter could be "reset" on a system restart (like Office apps for example).

    AND

    (2) Enable/disable the "last printer used" parameter (aka, print_printer) as a selectable User item in the Options in the Advanced Configuration area (not as a listing in the config table but right there under Submit Performance Data; with a check box control).

    This would solve everyone's problems in a nice clean way without a lot of extra coding and program re-design.

    ALSO ...

    IF you have Windows 7, be aware that _Windows 7_ will often try to restore printers you have deleted because ... well, who knows why ... I can only assume Microsoft programmers thought, "You accidentally deleted your printer, you big silly. Don't worry, be happy. We will put it back for you. :) " It's all tied up in their security precautions vs. login privileges (guest, user, admin, etc.) mess.

    It is likely that Windows 8 suffers the same issues ... common attitude towards users and all that. LoL
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  • I was having quite a bit of a problem with seemingly randomly coming up with different printers, including ones that had been deleted. I do use Windows 7. You would have to go back aways to see my post. Several months ago I installed a new printer (Hp pro 8600 premium), and have not had a single problem since. I can use different printers and settings, or print preview, and it always comes back to my default on the next print job.
    • Windows 7 is famous for resurrecting things you've killed. Luckily, the new HP installation must have flushed something. Curious: assuming you have more than one printer selectable, if you select a different printer (not the system default) while printing from the TB Print Preview screen, does (1) the "print_printer" parameter appear and set to the printer you selected, and (2) does TB still default to the default system printer if you restart TB after that? We don't want to kill any cats but we are curious. :-)
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  • I’m thankful
    Using "Airmail 793's suggestion and also removing (resetting)
    a print_printer entry that also still showed my old printer model as a suffix fixed the problem.
    Many thanks to all!
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  • his subject has been asked numerous times. I suggest that Mozilla Thunderbird make it easier to change the setting.
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  • From all of these comments it sounds like I must always double check what TB/Firefox selects and change printers if not the originally installed printer on my W7 laptop. The above comment about my XP laptop is correct, it always selects the default printer regardless of which printer was originally installed on it. Very questionable programming for going forward! This means that we all will have many problems when we replace our printers or purchase a used printer!
    • Wow! You sound just like Theresa Tennyson. Are you guys twins?!?! LoL

      On XP Thunderbird printer selection works reliably and has been documented elsewhere in this thread several times.

      I suspect something in Windows 7 is causing the problem. This is not a new issue to Windows 7 users in-the-know.

      My grandson has picked up a Windows 7 laptop and this week I will put Thunderbird on it to see what Uncle Bill's crew have got themselves into this time. LoL
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  • Ok, the short form since apparently it's too hard to understand in the long form.

    1. Reset "print.print_printer" if it exists per Ron Mackay's excellent instructions above. You only have to do this once. This was an old parameter leftover from a previous version.

    2. Reset "print_printer" if it exists per Ron Mackay's excellent instructions above. This resets Thunderbird to use the system default printer.

    3. Never print from Print Preview and Thunderbird will use the default system printer every time (even if you select a different printer for a print job, it will revert back after that print job).

    4. _IF_ you want Thunderbird to _DEFAULT_ to a DIFFERENT printer, print from Print Preview selecting the DIFFERENT printer then. Thunderbird will then always default to that printer UNLESS and UNTIL you (1) reset "print_printer" again, or (2) print from Print Preview and select a different printer.

    RECAP: You can print from any printer by selecting it in the print dialogue. Keep in mind that printing from Print Preview changes the Thunderbird default. Printing from the menu (^P) does not change the Thunderbird default.

    Hope this is clearer. RIF

    Grandson now has a Windoze 7 laptop. Will install Thunderbird on that this week and see what annoying nonsense Murkysoft has pulled in that version. Still avoiding Windoze 8 like a cheap toy.
    • I was looking through the older posts here and Hugh mentions replacement printers and that got me to thinking, what does TB do if the TB default printer (set by printing from Print Preview) is a printer that no longer exists! Does TB check to see if the printer specified in the "print_printer" parameter still exists? I suspect not.

      We should add this to our suggestions to Mozilla for "fixing" ThunderBird! Easy enough to do, eh?

      if exists(print_printer) then continue else reset(print_printer) continue;

      seems so simple ... ;-)
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  • ...Sam has been a busy boy this weekend...
    Thanks for your diligence, Sam!
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  • I’m frustrated
    Awesome - a fix that requires manual changes to the advanced settings, and also DOES NOT work is hailed as the solution by the zealots.

    Meanwhile requests to implement an actual fix to make the software properly user friendly is dismissed and mocked.

    To be clear - clearing "print.print_printer" on 17.0.8 on XP does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WHATSOEVER to correct this issue. Tested and confirmed on 4 separate systems.

    ....and then you wonder why payware still runs the world? This is a joke. I'm so disappointed I work for an organization that has implemented Thunderbird, it is NOT a corporate solution in any sense of the word.
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    • I've decided to ask this to be included or reinstated if it was removed.
      I also asked for the 'comments' and 'good answer' clickable links to be made more visible - not greyed out.
      see:
      https://getsatisfaction.com/getsatisf...
    • Read the whole thread, Andy. You missed quite a bit. Not to say you'll like the way it works ... but at least we know how it works now
      .
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  • Sam Quint has pretty much figured this all out. Look for his responses. It boils down to this:

    If you print directly from print preview, TB will decide that is the printer you want to use. You can kill this by resetting the print selection in TB, via McKay's procedure.

    But the best generic idea is to always print using a command sequence that takes you through a printer select option to allow you to select the printer you want.

    By the way, this problem is not unique to TB. It also exists with Windows 7 applications involving print preview, have experienced it with other software.
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  • Firefox 25.0.1 doesn't have Advanced, on the General tab; nor General on the Advanced Tab. Please where is the config editor button?
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  • I’m thankful my crisis is over
    I found a config item called "print_printer" (without the print. prefix) that I had to reset to fix this problem.

    I would echo the complaints others have made that this shouldn't be an issue that people should have to edit config data to fix. Thunderbird should move past values of print_printer that are no longer valid to get back to choosing the printer by the means that are present when print_printer isn't set. In other words, go ahead and use the value if it's valid, otherwise, instead of complaining that the printer isn't found - proceed as if the print_printer value wasn't set and go find the d**m printer.

    OK, now I've said my piece and I'll move on with life.
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