Printer discovery—which method is best for you?

Clients can print only after they've discovered the available printers' names, IP addresses, and supported features. The way clients discover these details depends on how the environment is set up to publish the printer details, as well as the client's operating system.

So before you set up Mobility Print, you need to work out the best printer discovery method for your organization:

Use the following wizard to help you work out which is the best printer discovery method for you.

1. How many subnets do you have?


mDNS discovery

mDNS is a local subnet protocol also known as Bonjour, zero-conf, or RFC 6762 to its friends. It’s the same protocol that iTunes uses to find your iPhone or your Apple TV.

This is the easiest option to get Mobility Print up and running, whether that's to deploy immediately to your users or to try out Mobility Print for the first time.

By default, mDNS broadcasting occurs across only one subnet. Although it is possible to extend mDNS across subnets using mDNS 'reflectors' or 'bonjour gateways' and other methods, we recommend that for these multi-subnet environments you use one of the other Mobility Print discovery options (Configure printer discovery using DNS or Configure printer discovery with a known host).

mDNS is an open standard and uses UDP broadcasting. Shared printer information is broadcast and encoded into the mDNS packets.

Best for

  • Small offices or businesses

  • Small networks — primarily those with a single subnet

  • Networks with one subnet per location

  • Environments where a local DNS server does not exist

  • Networks that have low packet loss


  • It’s on by default — it works out of the box.


  • May not be reliable on networks with high packet loss.

  • Not a good choice for large networks with multiple subnets.

DNS discovery

DNS discovery, also known as 'hierarchical decentralized naming system for computers and services', is an alternative to mDNS. In short, the published printers are encoded in DNS records.

DNS uses an existing DNS infrastructure to transmit printer information. The information is broadcast and encoded with the DNS-SD standard.

The Mobility Print server has a mini embedded DNS server. You need to configure your local DNS server to forward printer discovery requests to the Mobility Print server’s embedded DNS.

DNS communication diagram clients connect to DNS server and DNS server relays the record from Mobility Print server

Forwarding is achieved using a method called 'subzones' or 'delegated subzones'. This is an elegant solution because when you add or remove new printers, no local DNS configuration is required. It’s all automatic and delegated to the Mobility Print server.

Best for

  • Medium to larger organizations (for example, universities or corporate offices)

  • Where a local DNS server exists

  • Where there are multiple print servers

  • Networks with multiple subnets per location

  • Networks that have high packet loss (and of course it also works well in low packet loss environments)


  • It’s robust and works reliably on networks of all sizes

  • Compared to printer discovery using a known host, this option makes print queues just appear for BYOD iOS users; no need to install a Configuration Profile


  • More complex to set up for the SysAdmin (probably you as you've got this far in this guide)

  • You might need to make friends with your DNS admin!

Discovery with a known host

Use this method of printer discovery in environments with multiple subnets that don't have a DNS server, or in environments with complex firewalls that might make it too hard for you to get Mobility Print up and running.

Printer discovery with a known host is easy to set up and works equally well in both simple and complex environments.

Best for

Environments that have:

  • no BIND or Windows internal DNS server

  • a DNS server that is not configurable

  • complex firewalls in place that might be blocking the necessary DNS traffic

  • one print server

  • multiple subnets—with or without a DNS server


  • Supports any network, no matter whether a DNS server is available or not

  • Less firewall rules required

  • Easier to set up in multi-subnet environments than DNS


  • BYOD iOS devices require an additional step to set up print queues

  • For now, users can only reach a single Mobility Print server at a time, except for Chromebooks, which supports multiple Mobility Print servers

  • Works well for managed Chromebooks (via G Suite), but is not suited for BYOD Chromebooks