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How to print a PRN file in Windows XP?

by provoko / August 11, 2005 12:48 PM PDT

I've searched the internet, I've found advice to go into CMD and type "copy xxxx.prn LPT1 /B" but that doesn't do anything. I've even tried "copy xxxx.prn USB001 /B" but still nothing.

I didn't expect printing a PRN file would be a challenge, I've tried dragging the files into msword still nothing.

These are files that I've printed to file and all I want to do is print them. Can anyone figure this out please? Is there no print from file? Thank you.

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by Papa Echo / August 11, 2005 2:37 PM PDT

Seems that the command only works with a printer connected to the parallel printer's port. (LPT1)

Care to try: drag a copy of the PRN file (so you do not lose it) to your printer (shortcut) ?

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Printing .prn files
by El Alquimista / August 11, 2005 2:38 PM PDT

As your printer is connected via USB rather than by the parallel port, and DOS can not recognize USB, the copy-to-printer command can not work. This is one downside of USB printers.

As you learned, you cannot put .prn files into Word or any other WP or text program. They are in a special format recognizable only by the designated printer and others of that type. A .prn file created for one type of printer may not print to a printer of a different type.

You will, therefore, need to connect your printer via the parallel port or else get third-party software to print your .prn files. One program that might work is Fastprint, which costs $40. You can download a free trial version (with some features disabled) from

I do not currently have a printer connected via USB, for the above reason, so I can not try it in that mode. It does work with my LPT connection ? but then so does copy finename LPT1.

If you do try Fastprint over USB, please let me know if it works.

Hope this helps


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Here is how to print a PRN file
by ChuckT / August 11, 2005 6:25 PM PDT

I just did this, I know it works.
I have a USB connected HP printer, but it should also work with a parallel printer.
I also used it on my networked printer.

Get PrintFile.

I created a PRN file, and placed the PRN file on my desktop.
I created a PS (PostScript) file and also placed it on my desktop.
I then used PrintFile to send the PRN file on my USB connected HP printer. It printed fine.
I also then used PrintFile to send the PS file to my networked PostScript printer. It printed fine.

Long ago, in the old DOS and the old Win 3.x days, it was relatively easy to send print-formatted files directly to a printer, all you needed to do was copy the file out to the LPT: device. But times have changed. And that is why Peter Lerup made his great tool.

The info, about PrintFile, says this at the website (and I can vouch for, since I have used it for years):
PrintFile is a freeware MS Windows utility program that will enable you to print files fast and easily. The program recognizes plain text, PostScript, Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) and binary formats.

Although this function is mainly intended for printing PostScript files, it could be used just as well for any file created by the ''Print to File'' option available for most Windows printer drivers.


I have used this piece of software for years. It was a real chore saver when I neded it, at work, for printing up many hundreds of PS files. (We test printers and print drivers.)

Installing and using PrintFile almost could not be easier. It installs in seconds, it is free and there is no nag or spyware. You can just drop your print-formatted files onto the PrintFile icon on your desktop. Or you can open PrintFile and use it to find you files to print. Or you can just drag your files right into the open PrintFile control box.

The controls of PrintFile can do some very impressive things. You really ought to check it out.

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Perfect, worked, thanks
by provoko / August 12, 2005 12:25 PM PDT

That program was great. So fast too. Thanks a lot.

The other program El Alquimista mentioned didn't help, I might have downloaded the wrong thing though.

Oh and the first suggestion didn't work, dragging it into print. It SHOULD be that easy though.

Thanks again.

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This worked for me
by jlsloe / November 30, 2007 6:39 AM PST

Downloading, installing, and using <b>PrintFile</b> was a breeze. It printed a PRN file that I had trouble printing. Just to let others know, this worked with a Zebra P640i, direct to plastic card printer. Thanks Chuck for your help, and the download link.

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It didn't work for me. What else could be a problem?
by Pragmatic / December 31, 2007 4:27 AM PST

I downloaded and installed it. That part was very easy and fast.
However, when I tried to a (supposedly PRN) file to my Brother MFC-7820N (networked), it wasted many pages of paper, mainly printing one gibberish line or character per page, except the last few pages, where nearly page full lines of more gibberish characters.
I am guessing that it does not translate it correctly. I also tried to select "MS document image writer" which did not work either.
My system is XP SP2 with all patches up to date.

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Why did you need to try this? Tell us more.
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / December 31, 2007 6:03 PM PST

This is a two year old thread so the original posters may have long gone.

You said, "supposedly PRN". Why are you unsure? The advice given was specifically for a PRN file, so if your file is not PRN the procedure may not work.

Tell us more about these files you are trying to print using this procedure and not using your normal Word or Text editors to print them.


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I no longer try this the new ways.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 31, 2007 10:53 PM PST

I take the file on my bootable DOS CD and my laptop and walk to the printer to connect it with the parallel cable. Then I use the old COPY /B command as needed.

I know today many can't operate the PC without a mouse so I always have to check what the owner/user/member can do or if they grew up on DOS or prior to DOS.

-> In closing the PRN file is incompatible with any printer it was not made for. Even if you followed the above instructions to the last dot there is still an issue which is "Was this PRN file made for this printer?"


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prn file
by mjl908 / October 12, 2009 9:35 AM PDT

thanks It worked great for me.

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printing PRN on Brother 240 printer
by rtbaillie / March 27, 2010 2:37 PM PDT

the free program and the dos copy seem to do the same thing ... the printer says "receiving data" (this is good) but then nothing

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Works for me
by swampfinder / August 16, 2010 6:27 AM PDT

Thanks Chuck T -- it worked great with 64 bit Windows 7. Easy to use. Much better than those 'free scan' and then 'buy for $50' programs.

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by signeholm / October 4, 2010 8:02 AM PDT

Thank you so much ChuckT - You saved me from a LOT of trouble!!!

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(NT) Thank you kindly! Works perfectly!
by ibpapa / November 30, 2012 12:39 PM PST
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The printing stays in the print spooler.
by HernanCano / January 6, 2011 11:06 AM PST

The printing stays in the print spooler.
Who can say me something?
Portatil Dell Inspiron 1501 - WinXP Pro SP3 - HP LaserJet 1020 - USB from CPU to printer.

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