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This operation requires an interactive window station

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In this post, we will help you solve This operation requires an interactive windows station error on Windows 11/10. This error message occurs when users try to install or add a printer (local printer or network printer) or install print drivers. When they try to do so, the following error message appears:

Printer driver was not installed.
This operation requires an interactive window station.

This operation requires an interactive window station

What is an interactive Windows station?

An interactive window station contains a mouse, keyboard, and display device, and is named WinSta0. It is the only window station for receiving user input or displaying a user interface. Whenever a login session is started for a user using Remote Desktop Services, that session is associated with its own interactive window station. Sometimes, users may encounter error messages related to the interactive window station like the one mentioned above.

The main cause of this error message is the users don’t have administrative privileges to the required driver folders. The printer driver doesn’t work, the printer installation is interrupted or failed and this error message is displayed. A Group Policy or Registry entry configured to limit print driver installation to Administrators could also be the reason for it. Thankfully, some helpful solutions are there to fix this problem. You should create a restore point before proceeding further.

This operation requires an interactive window station

If you want to fix This operation requires an interactive window station error while installing a printer driver in Windows 11/10, you need to use the solutions added below:

  1. Use the built-in Printer Troubleshooter
  2. Take ownership of required folders
  3. Grant administrative permissions to the spool folder
  4. Configure Group Policy Setting
  5. Set RestrictDriverInstallationToAdministrators using Registry Editor.

Let’s check all these solutions.

1] Use the built-in Printer Troubleshooter

First, you should run the built-in Printer troubleshooter of Windows 11/10 and see if it solves this problem. It helps to detect various printer-related problems and provides fixes for the detected issues. It will check for printer spooler service, errors from the printer driver, spooler service errors, etc., and then you can apply the given fixes.

2] Take ownership of required folders

As we mentioned in starting, this problem may occur if you don’t have administrative rights or permissions with Full Control access to the required driver folders, which include DriverStore, drivers, and DRVSTORE. All these folders are present under C:\Windows\System32. If the owner of these folders is set to TrustedInstaller or SYSTEM, then you will face trouble installing a printer for your user account. So, you need to change the owner of your user account to Administrators.

There is a manual way to take full ownership of folders in which you need to access the Advanced Security Settings for each of these required folders one by one, select Administrators for your User or Group, replace owner on subcontainers and objects, and set Full control access for Administrators. If you want, you can also skip this manual process. For this, open Command Prompt as administrator and execute the following commands one by one using the Command Prompt window:

takeown /f "C:\Windows\System32\drivers" /r /d y
icacls "C:\Windows\System32\drivers" /grant administrators:F /T

The above commands take ownership of the drivers’ folder (including all files) and provide administrators Full control access to the drivers’ folder.

Similarly, you need to execute the following commands for the DriverStore folder:

takeown /f "C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore" /r /d y
icacls "C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore" /grant administrators:F /T

And, use these commands for the DRVSTORE folder:

takeown /f "C:\Windows\System32\DRVSTORE" /r /d y
icacls "C:\Windows\System32\DRVSTORE" /grant administrators:F /T

Restart your computer and then try to install the printer.

Related: Printer driver was not installed – Element not found

3] Grant administrative permissions to the spool folder

If the above solution doesn’t work, then you should grant administrative permissions to the spool folder which contains the PRINTERS folder, driver files, etc. This folder is also present under C:\Windows\System32. Take ownership of this folder and then provide administrators Full control access. To do so, run Command Prompt as admin and use the following commands one by one:

takeown /f "C:\Windows\System32\spool" /r /d y
icacls "C:\Windows\System32\spool" /grant administrators:F /T

4] Configure Group Policy Setting

configure print driver installation group policy

Check if a Group Policy setting is configured that restricts print driver installation to Administrators only. By default, users that aren’t Administrators can’t install the print drivers. But you can change this setting. For this, use the following steps:

  • Type gpedit.msc in the Search box
  • Press Enter key to open the Group Policy Editor window
  • Jump to the Printers folder using the path given below:

Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Printers

  • Double-click on the Limits print driver installation to Administrators setting available on the right section to configure it
  • A new window will open. Now, change the setting from Enabled/Not Configured to Disabled so that the system will not be limited to installing print drivers to your computer by Administrators only
  • Press the Apply button
  • Press the OK button.

You might need to restart your system. Now try to install the print drivers or add your printer and you shouldn’t face that problem again.

5] Set RestrictDriverInstallationToAdministrators using Registry Editor

set RestrictDriverInstallationToAdministrators registry setting

An equivalent Registry entry named RestrictDriverInstallationToAdministrators for the same Group Policy setting is also available that you can configure to allow non-admins to install unsigned and signed drivers to a print server and update drivers. Here are the steps:

  • Type regedit in the Search box
  • Hit the Enter key
  • In the Registry Editor window, access the PointAndPrint Registry key. The path is:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows NT\Printers\PointAndPrint
  • Double-click on the RestrictDriverInstallationToAdministrators DWORD value to edit it. A small box will pop up
  • Put 0 in the Value data field of that box
  • Press the OK button.

Hope something helps.

Read next: Printer Driver Error 0x000005b3, Operation could not be completed.

This operation requires an interactive window station



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