A PRN file is simply a printer file that is created for a specific printer in a language that the printer understands.  Therefor PRN files are printer model specific and will not work with other types of printers.  The format is written filename.prn, and the files may contain some readable parts, usually printer commands, along with some binary character non-readable parts, usually the image/text data.  A special program is required to read a PRN file.

PRN files are very useful if you have problems with your printer and are requesting technical support.  In fact a support phone technician will almost always ask for one of these files if a printer problem you report isn’t readily solvable.  The PRN will tell the technician things like your label and page size, margins you may have set, as well as all other printer driver settings.  The image you are printing is also contained in this file so the recipient of the file will be able to send it to a like model printer and see what you are printing.

Another use of a PRN for the NeuraLabel 300x printer is to capture ink usage required for a given label.  NeuraLabel offers a free InkEstimator application which will read the PRN and calculate ink usage and costs.  This program will also provide driver setting options that might suggest alternative settings that can save ink and lower costs.  Finally with just the one PRN file, InkEstimator can calculate the number of printed labels possible with a single set of ink.

How does one go about creating a PRN file for a given label?  There are two ways.  First, many applications have a “print to file” capability already built in the program.  Adobe Acrobat Reader is one example.  To create a PRN using an application such as Acrobat, first select the target printer for the PRN and set up all the driver parameters, exactly as if you were sending the file to the printer.  Every setting in the printer driver will be captured in the PRN.  Note that PRNs can be a single page, copies of a single page, or multiple pages.  If you are making a file for technical support, you will usually supply a single page PRN file, depending on the support issue.  If you are making a PRN for InkEstimator, you should keep copies set to 1.  In either case, smaller files with fewer pages are easier to work with and diagnose.

Once the driver parameters are set, look for a “print to file” capability in the application you are using.  Adobe Acrobat Reader offers a checkbox under its Advanced button.  Note that this is different than the Advanced button in the NeuraLabel 300x printer driver. While this box is checked, any time you click the Print button, a dialog will appear allowing you to name the PRN file and browse for a location to save it.  For Reader this setting “sticks” until you uncheck the box.  Be sure to remember where you save the file, and you should be good to go.

Adobe Acrobat Reader offers a Print to File option.

Adobe Acrobat Reader offers a Print to File option

Adobe Reader makes printing to a file easy, but not all applications have this feature. Print to File is not found, for example, in any of the Microsoft Office Products.  When you can’t find this feature in your application, here’s what you need to do.

When you installed your NeuraLabel printer driver, or any printer driver, you selected a printing port.  This port might be an internet TCP/IP address, a USB port, or it might be a printer name that is actually connecting the printer to a TCP/IP or USB port.  However, you can also set this port to Print to File.  If you do this, the driver will no longer send files over network or USB to the printer, but to a PRN file instead.  As with the previous scenario, when you print in this way, you will be presented with dialog that asks for a file name and location.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) is the basic communication protocol for the network on which your printer is connected.
USB (Universal Serial Bus) is a standard that defines the cables, connectors and communication protocols used for connection, communication, and power between computers and printers and other electronic devices.

To set this up, you can change your existing installed printer driver port to Print to File by editing then in the Windows/Apple control panel, however we recommended leaving your current printer(s) unchanged and installing a new copy of the driver that always prints to file and creates a PRN.  This will be quite convenient should you want to create a PRN quickly for support or ink estimation.

Set the printer port to Print to File to create PRNs

Set the printer port to Print to File to create PRNs

To review, we learned that a PRN or printer file contains all the information needed to print a specific label file to a given printer model.  This can be very useful if you need help with your label printing process or want to analyze ink usage.  We suggest setting up a copy of your NeuraLabel printer driver with the Print to File Port pre-selected.  This will provide a convenient functionality when you need help and want to move ahead quickly,