Coyote's Guide to IDL Programming

Printing PostScript Files on Windows Machines

QUESTION: Is there a good way to print PostScript files on Windows machines?

ANSWER: I've found the best way to print PostScript files from my Windows machine is a small freeware program named PrintFile. This program is written by Peter Lerup, the author of the useful PS2EPS program for the Macintosh computer.

The PrintFile program is terrific. You can set it up to be a drag and drop operation, or you can simply Spawn the program from within IDL. (Use the "start" command if you are on Windows NT or Windows 98 to avoid the program blocking the IDL command line.) It will work equally well with stand-alone or networked printers. One of it's nicest features is that it even allows you to print encapsulated PostScript files without having to first embed them in a document. PostScript files can even be sent to a non-PostScript printer.

You can find the PrintFile program at this URL:

To print to non-PostScript printers, you have to install Ghostscript and GhostView. Here is how I configured PrintFile on my Windows XP machine to print color output to my non-PostScript HP Photosmart printer. I installed PrintFile, then started it up and clicked the “Settings” button. At the bottom of the Settings Dialog is a “Conversion” button. I clicked that. In the pull-down menu at the top of the Conversion Settings dialog, I selected “PostScript files and checked the "Enable conversion of" button.”

In the “Program” text field just below I entered the path to the Ghostview file gsprint.exe, like this:

    C:\Program Files\Ghostview\gsview\gsprint.exe 

In the “Parameters” text field, just below the Program field, I entered the name of my printer exactly as it is listed in the Printers and Faxes folder. Because I want color output, I also set the color switch.

   -printer "HP Photosmart 8200 Series" -color &i 
Conversion Settings Dialog
This is the Conversion Settings dialog for my HP Photosmart printer.

View the PrintFile on-line help page “Conversion Settings” for additional hints. I learned how to configure my HP Photosmart printer from this web page.

Here is what Brad Gom had to say about this program on the IDL newsgroup after he took my advice and downloaded it.

This is a great program. I just hacked XWINDOW.PRO and PS_FORM.PRO a little bit to add print buttons which spawn PrintFile. PrintFile in turn spawns GhostScript and sends the converted file to a non-PostScript printer. This lets me use all the great features of XWINDOW to create a predictable PostScript file, as well as printing the file directly to a non-PostScript printer. This way I get an immediate hardcopy, and a saved file. I've never had reliable results with other ways of dumping a plot to a printer without a lot of extra code in my plotting programs. Yippee!

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