Print to File
Often I compose a letter in Word, then paste the text into an email. But all the formatting (and sometimes images) are lost when my friends view it. Can I somehow capture in a file, exactly what WOULD appear on the printed page, then send that instead?
How Do I Print To A File Instead Of A Printer?
I understand this frustration, since I deal with many people around the globe who have a variety of email software, word processing and operating systems. A beautifully formatted document such as a birthday greeting; business proposal; term paper; etc., SHOULD appear to the reader exactly as the author prepared it.
It's a work of art, after all. Sometimes, precise reproduction from author to reader is essential, as with blueprints. Generally, people print on paper what they want to be read precisely. But there are problems with paper printing.
First, it takes paper, which is not cheap. Ink or laser toner is even more expensive, not to mention the new hot-dye printers for photgraphs. You always run out of one thing or another when you get to the 98th page of a 100 page document, too. That means a trip to the office supply store, and suffering if what you need is out of stock. Then you have to get the paper to the reader(s).You could just attach and email the original Word document, spreadsheet, etc. But that doesn't guarantee that it will be rendered correctly on the receiving side. Due to differences in software, application versions, available fonts, and other factors, it could end up looking much different than you intended. If you have a PC, and your friend has a Mac or Linux computer, the odds are even worse.
If you could scan each printed page, and save it as an image file, that would solve the problem, albeit with a lot of extra hassle. So how do you EASILY get that precision "printing" in a data file that can be emailed? Fortunately, there are several ways, all of them free.
Image Writer and PDF Format
For Microsoft Office users, there is a "printer" driver called Microsoft Document Image Writer. It was installed by default when you installed MS Office. Just select Print in any Office application, click on the pulldown menu arrow in the Printer Name field, and select Microsoft Document Image Writer as the printer for this particular job. Then click OK to print. Instead of sending the data to your default printer, it will be saved in an image file.
Image Writer will use the existing document file name, but you have an opportunity to change that if you wish. You can also change the default TIFF image format to the MDI (Microsoft Document Imaging) compressed format.
The problem with both Image Writer formats is that they are monchrome only, and no more than 300 dpi. For full color, higher resolution "printed" files, you can use the Portable Document Format (PDF) standard invented by Adobe Corp. There are other advantages to using the PDF format, too.
First, the readers to whom you wish to send "printed" files may not use Microsoft Office, or even Windows. PDF is a universal standard that virtually any operating system can read with some viewer program or another. Second, many PDF printer drivers let you set a password on the PDF file you create. You can communicate this password to the intended recipients separately from the email transmitting the file. Now only people who have the password can view the PDF file, a nice securty feature.
Bullzip Free PDF Printer Driver is a good example of this breed. It also supports printing to image formats including BMP, JPG, etc.
PDFCreator is an open source (free) addon, and users say it works just as well as the $700 Adobe Acrobat suite for simply creating PDF files from other documents.
Print to a file, email it, and save a copy to your hard drive. That sounds much easier, cheaper, and more environmentally responsible than paper, postage, and file cabinets, doesn't it?
Do you have comments or questions about printing to a file? Post your thoughts below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 15 Oct 2009
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Print to File (Posted: 15 Oct 2009)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved