Windows 9x - Speed up repetitive printing chores

You can print in a jiffy by saving the printing instructions to a file and creating a shortcut that sends the instructions to the printer whenever you need a copy. One caveat: this tip will not work with Postscript printers.

Open the document in the application you usually use to print it. Choose File-Print to open the Print dialogue box, and check the Print to File option. Some applications, including Notepad, don't have a Print dialogue box, and others don't have a Print to File option. In such situations, choose Start-Settings-Printers. In the Printers window, right-click the icon for the printer you normally use, and choose Properties. Then look for an option that specifies ports; frequently, it appears on the Details tab. From the Ports list, select FILE: (Creates a file on disk) or the equivalent. Then click OK.

Return to your application, and choose the Print command. Click OK in the Print dialogue box. The program should prompt you for a place to save the print file. Select a convenient location, and type a name (such as printme.prn); then click OK, and exit the application.

The next step is to create a shortcut that sends this file to the printer. Right-click the Start button, and choose Open or Explore. Navigate to the folder where you want to keep your document-printing shortcuts. If you have several such documents, consider making a new folder in the Start Menu folder so that the shortcuts are available from the Start button. After opening the proper folder, right-click an empty area and then choose New-Shortcut. When the Command line prompt appears, type command.com /c copy /b "C:\My Documents\printme.prn" lpt1:. The name and path of your print document may differ. Be sure to use quotation marks if any part of the path uses spaces or long file or folder names.

If you print to a port other than lpt1, you'll have to change this part of the example to match your printer's port. To identify the correct name, return to the Ports listing in the printer's Properties dialogue box, as explained above. Common port names are "com1:" or "com2:" for serial printers, or entire paths (usually beginning with \\) for networked printers. Once you've entered the proper command line, click Next and type a name for your shortcut. This name will appear on your chosen menu within the Start menu. When you're done, click Finish.

To add some finishing touches, locate the icon you just created, right-click it, and choose Properties. Click the Program tab. Your command line is shown here, in case you need to edit it or correct a typo. From the Run drop-down list, choose Minimized to hide the DOS window that appears when the file is sent to the printer. Make sure Close on exit is checked. If you like, you may click Change Icon and select a different icon to give your shortcut a distinctive or more meaningful look. When you're done, click OK as many times as necessary to close the dialogue boxes. Thereafter, whenever you need a copy of your document, just choose your new shortcut from the appropriate menu on the Start menu.

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