Purpose of the .prn File Extension

What is a .prn file?

.prn files come under the category of Page Layout Files and are created when you select the Print to file option in the Print dialog box. When you choose the Print to file option, the program outputs whatever information it may have sent your printer to a file. The .prn file can then be printed through any other printer that has the same printer driver as your printer.

.prn files store the content that needs to be printed and instructions for the printer, such as what printer tray to use, the number of pages to print, size of the paper, etc.

You can open .prn files using any text editor, such as Notepad. However, you are likely to see a lot of junk characters along with your text.

Purpose of the .prn file

The main aim of .prn files is to allow computer users to print a file even when the program that creates the file is not installed or open. For instance, you want to send a brochure created in Microsoft Publisher to different people for printing, but the problem is that the recipients don’t have Microsoft Publisher installed on their computers. In this case, rather than asking them to install Microsoft Publisher, you can e-mail the .prn file which they can print even when Microsoft Publisher is not installed on their computer.

There are a couple of pre-requisites for using the .prn file.

  1. The software with which the file is created should be able to print the file.
  2. All the printers on which the .prn file is going to be printed should have the same printer driver as your printer. To elaborate on this, let’s continue with the above example. When you send the .prn file to various recipients, they should be using the same printer driver as your printer, as only then will they be able to print the .prn file. Remember, when a .prn file is created, the output is formatted for a specific printer.

There is a misconception about .prn files – many users believe that to print a .prn file on different computers, you need to have the same printer installed on the second computer that was installed on the system that created the .prn file. In truth, all you need is the same printer driver.

How to create a .prn file

Perform the following steps to create a .prn file:

  1. Click the File menu of your program and select Print.
  2. In the Print Dialog box, select the printer, and then select Print to file.
  3. Check other print options and click OK.
  4. Type the name for your .prn file and save it in the desired location.

How to print a .prn file in Windows

To print a .prn file, right-click the file, and then select “Microsoft Office Document Imaging”. You can also print .prn files through DOS command. Further, free utilities are also available that allow you to print .prn files.

Names of the programs that can open a .prn file in Windows:

  • Microsoft Document Imaging
  • AllWeb Fast Print
  • ACD Systems Canvas 11
  • Free Raw Print
  • Any compatible printer driver that can print .prn files

In case you encounter a file extension error when you try to open a .prn file, then you may use FileCure to open the required file. FileCure is a reliable file extension repair tool that not only allows users to fix various file extension errors, but also permits them to view various file types.