Fri, 23 Dec 05

Print to Pdf in Windows without Acrobat Writer

(Probably) the standard way to print to Pdf in Windows is to buy Adobe Acrobat or use one of the alternatives (which come with various different licences and are of varying quality; from experience over the last couple of years).

There is, however, a completely free alternative, providing you don’t mind going through a couple of steps to implement it (which I don’t).

The basic premise is that you print to PostScript using a PostScript compatible printer driver and then use Ghostscript to convert from PostScript to Pdf.

These instructions work in Windows XP but should be very similar in all versions of Windows.

Install PostScript compatible printer.

  1. Add a Printer.
  2. Choose ‘Local printer’ and do not ‘automatically detect’.
  3. Select ‘FILE: (Print to File)’ in the list next to ‘Use the following port’.
  4. Choose a PS printer. I’m currently using HP Color LaserJet PS.
  5. Select whether you want to use this as your default printer and choose no to printing a test page.

Download and install AFPL Ghostscript

  1. Visit the Ghostscript site and follow the ‘Obtaining AFPL Ghostscript <version>’ link.
  2. Download the version for Windows, which at the time of writing is called gs853w32.exe.
  3. Double click the downloaded file to install. Use the defaults during installation.

Download and install GSview

  1. Visit the GSview site and follow the ‘Obtaining GSview 4.7 link’.
  2. Download the version for Windows, which at the time of writing is called gsv47w32.exe.
  3. Double click the downloaded file to install. Use the defaults during installation.

Print something

  1. Open a file and choose to print to your PostScript printer.
  2. On clicking the Print button, you will be prompted to specify a filename to save the PostScript document to. Supply the full path to the file here, for example ‘c:\page.ps’. Although the .ps extension is optional it makes it easier to open directly in GSview if this is supplied.

Convert the PostScript file to Pdf

  1. Double click on the ‘c:\page.ps’ file to open it in GSview.
  2. Click OK to close the software registration prompt and you will see the PostScript interpretation of your file on the screen.
  3. Click File > Convert and choose ‘pdfwrite’ as the device, a suitable resolution (default of 600 should be fine) and click OK. You will be prompted to save the converted Pdf file somewhere
  4. Enter the filename to save the file with, noting that .pdf doesn’t get added automatically, e.g. specify page.pdf.
  5. Open the new .pdf file in either Adobe Reader or an alternative