If you print PostScript graphics to a non-PostScript office printer, such as Encapsulated PostScript files made in drawing programmes and page-layout software, you will either see a grey box that displays the file name or the low-resolution preview image built into the graphic. In contrast, PostScript printers have internal firmware that can decipher text and graphics coming from programmes and files that are written in native PostScript. The driver software can better comprehend and address the unique capabilities and options of the Mac-based hardware your company utilises in its client workflow with the aid of a PostScript Printer Description file.

The Basics

When you use a PostScript printer on your Mac, you install a driver file that is compatible with a variety of printers that understand PostScript and combine it with a PPD that details the features and options your hardware provides. PPDs also include localized instructions that are intended to support the common languages you use throughout your operating system, such as English, French, German, or Italian. Other PPDs can be found on the installation discs that come with new output hardware, while some PPDs come pre-installed with your operating system.

File Type

In a text editor like Text Edit, you can open a PPD file to see a blend of native-language data and PostScript code. In order to specify and describe a combination of machine attributes and print-time behaviours, PPDs employ a specific form of the PostScript language. For instance, if you read a PPD, you’ll find a description of how the device is supposed to act after you clear a paper jam, specifically stating whether it should reprint the affected pages. Some sections of the file could be more challenging for you to understand than others, but if you are familiar with the alternatives you can choose when you print, much of it should make sense to you.

Feature Support

PPDs outline characteristics that are unique to a given machine and that you can use during print. These include the ability to use and access numerous paper trays, support for particular page sizes, the use of multiple output resolutions, and the use of multiple memory modules. Additionally, PPDs describe a device’s ability to print in color, whether it has an internal hard drive, and whether the manufacturer has built any fonts into the machine’s firmware.

Device Types

PostScript refers to a wide variety of output devices as “printers,” some of which don’t produce paper. For recorders that translate application files onto slide film, for imagesetters that output high-resolution page layouts and graphics onto material used to generate printing plates, and for more traditional sheet-fed output devices, PPD files are available. You can use PPDs to set up projects for output on hardware you don’t own because PostScript drivers include the ability to print output instructions to an on-disk file.


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