How to print a prn file

Written by finn mccuhil
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How to print a prn file
Send a PRN file to the printer. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

A .prn file is a binary file that contains all of the formatting codes necessary for the document to print properly. The Windows print-to-file feature allows you to send a document to a file for future printing. When the print-to-file option is selected, you are prompted to enter a location and file name, and the file is saved with the .prn extension. This can be handy when the printer is offline or temporarily unavailable. Printing a .prn file requires the use of the command-line window.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Open a command-line window. Press and hold the "Windows" key, press and release the "R" key. Release the "Windows" key.

  2. 2

    Type "cmd", without the quotation marks, in the "Run" window's text box.

  3. 3

    Type "Copy FileName.prn /b prn" and press the "Enter" key. The "/b" switch tells the operating system to output the file in a raw binary format that allows the printer codes to be interpreted correctly by the printer.

Tips and warnings

  • The "prn" at the end of the command indicates the local default USB printer. If your printer is attached to a parallel port, use "lpt1" instead. For a shared network printer, substitute the host computer name and the printer's shared name in this format: \\hostComuputer\sharedPrinter. When outputting to a stand-alone network printer, use the printer's IP address prefaced by two backslashes: \\
  • The .prn file must be created using the printer definition file of the printer it will be output to in order for the document to be correctly formatted.

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