Filename extension: .prn
Developed by: Microsoft
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The PRN filetype is a specialized format used to represent printable data. This format dates back to the early days of personal computing, where it served as a method to transfer print jobs from the computer to the printer. Typically, PRN files are created by using the 'Print to File' option within the print dialog of many software applications. The file contains a sequence of commands that instruct the printer hardware on how to render the document, including text, fonts, graphics, and layout.

Understanding PRN Files

PRN files are generated based on the specific printer's control language, such as PostScript, PCL (Printer Command Language), or ESC/P (Epson Standard Code for Printers). Each of these languages offers a set of standardized commands for printers to interpret and print the content accurately. This format is particularly useful for ensuring document fidelity across different printing devices and platforms.

Software Compatibility

Certain applications, especially those focused on desktop publishing and graphic design, support the generation of PRN files. Programs like Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Office, and CorelDRAW facilitate the creation of these files, allowing users to review and transport print jobs independently of specific printers.

Alternatives to PRN Files

Although PRN files are useful, they are not the only option available. PDF (Portable Document Format) has become increasingly popular as a device-independent way to preserve document layout and content. Unlike PRN files, which are dependent on printer-specific languages, PDFs can be viewed and printed across various devices without losing the original document's quality or design. Other formats like XPS (XML Paper Specification) and proprietary solutions from software manufacturers also exist as alternatives.


Despite the presence of more modern formats like PDF, PRN files continue to be relevant in certain contexts, particularly when exact replication of a print job is necessary. Understanding this format helps users ensure accurate printing across different devices or in scenarios requiring direct communication with printer hardware.

Supported converters for PRN files

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