How to save print jobs to your hard drive

Question

I am looking for a package that will intercept print data and store to disk, allowing the user to edit print output before printing and also activate the 'Print Screen' key for capturing screen images.

- Carol

Answer

This question was answered on February 18, 2002. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Windows has a built-in method for sending print jobs directly to disk in either a graphical or generic text mode There are a few limitations in either mode, but they may provide you with all you need.

To send a graphical print job to disk (this includes any documents that uses various font types and sized as well as lines, tables or boxes) you can simply select the 'print to file' option in the print window before sending the print job In order to see this option click on File, then Print and look for the 'print to file' option before clicking on OK A screen will appear asking you for a file name (I will use 'Test' for our example) When you save the file, it will have a .prn extension (ex: Test.prn) to indicate that it is a print file.

There are a few catches to this using this method The first is that the resulting file can only be printed to the exact printer that was used to create the file For instance, if you have a laser printer as your default printer, it will save the file in laser printer language, which means you

can?t print it on an inkjet printer or anything other than that laser printer Another catch is that you must use the 'Print' command from a command line in order to print the file (print Test.prn) and the file cannot be edited in this form.

In order to edit the file, you can print it to a generic text file, which will strip out all graphics, lines, font sized and typefaces To do this, you must install the 'Generic/Text Only' printer driver into Windows and choose FILE: or Print to File as the port instead of LPT1 Any files

created using this printer driver combination will be a standard .txt file that can be edited with any word processor or text editor and printed to any printer.

If you are like most users, you may have noticed the Print Screen key (usually above the arrow keys next to the Scroll Lock key) doesn't seem to do anything when you press it In the old DOS days, when you pressed this key, whatever was on the screen would be sent to the printer.

Windows changed what this key does because of the 'graphical' nature of the operating system When you press the Print Screen key in any version of Windows it actually is capturing the current screen to the invisible 'clipboard' (If you want to capture only the active window instead of the entire screen, hold down the ALT key before pressing the Print Screen

button This is a great way to capture error message screens or any specific window!)

Items that are captured to the clipboard can then be 'pasted' into virtually any Windows programs such as Paint or Word by clicking on Edit then Paste.

Since you are capturing what is essentially a picture, you can edit the picture in any graphical program such as Paint or Photoshop, but any text that appears in the image CANNOT be edited with a word processor or any other text editor because it is no longer text.

If my instructions where too confusing or if you want more flexibility in what and how you capture screen images there are a host of free and low cost programs available via the Internet You can find dozens of programs at my favorite shareware/freeware sight, www.webattack.com by searching for

?screen capture? programs in the quick search section or going to the

Graphics section of either the Shareware or Freeware areas and clicking on

Screen Capture.

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on February 18, 2002