Open a File with PRN Extension With Follow This Steps

The desktop publishing industry has undergone many changes. Before the printer could print out color or B/W, everything had to be done through code. Then came the PRN format, wherein the file contains the text to be printed and the instructions for a printer.

The earlier devices could print out ASCII characters and text. The next step in the evolution was the dot matrix printer, capable of printing grayscale graphics. Then came plotting, which used to cut vector shapes with the help of a stylus blade. However, there was no one device that could do both. But then came the Xerox machine, which could develop copies of a particular file. In the late sixties, the laser printer was invented. It could print graphics pretty easily.

With a PRN file, printing was all the more easy, as this file could translate the directions of the user and transfer them to the printer. You must have seen or heard about this file extension. But do you know how to use it? This Buzzle article will help you know what a PRN file is and how to open it.

What is a PRN File?

A PRN file gets created whenever you print a document. It contains instructions to print the file, the number of pages to be printed, which printer tray to use, as well as the content to be printed, similar to a PostScript file(.ps). PRN files are automatically created by the printer driver. These files contain a preview of the page you are about to print. This serves as a primary purpose to translate the input in the PRN file to the output. PRN files are Page Layout files.

PRN files are normally associated with Calcomp Raster Bitmap, PostScript File, HP Printer Control Language, Printer Text File, Signature Printer Driver, XYWrite Printer Driver, and FileViewPro. If you try to open it with a Notepad or Wordpad, it contains illegible text or garbage values.

How to Open a PRN File

Convert it to PDF

► Print the file and a default file with PRN extension can be seen accompanying the actual file.

► Navigate to the location of your file and rename it with .ps extension. Click outside the file to finish renaming the file.

► Go to Adobe Acrobat and select “Create PDF” to change your file format.

► If you have the older version of Adobe Distiller, just click File and then Open, find a name for it and save it in PDF format.

Microsoft Excel
If the PRN file is displayed with delimited columns, i.e., separated by a comma, we use Excel sheets for its compatibility with any database program. Most programs export data in the Comma Separated Value (CSV) format.

► Create a PRN file with no header, footer, or comments. The PRN file should contain a single row of field names and columns containing the data.

► Import the PRN file in Excel, click on the Data tab on the Ribbon, and choose “From Text”.

► It will prompt you with a data source. Select the directory containing the file and select the file.

► In the Text Import Wizard, select Fixed Width, since your data is aligned in fixed-width columns.

► If your file contains information about the file like the size and resolution in the header, then tell Excel to start importing data from the first row of field names or data.

► Excel will guess how to separate lines and insert columns accordingly. If you wish to format it differently, add, move, or remove lines.


► Rename your ASCII file with the .txt extension.

► Select File and click on Open.

► Select File Type: Text CSV (.csv; .txt)

► Click Open after selecting the file. In the next dialog box that appears, select Separator Options. It displays different methods with which you can separate the data, for example, commas, tab, semicolon, etc. You can also preview your choices.

► The goal is to line up the data in visible cells. When the data lines up, click OK.

Command Prompt

► You can run PRN files via Command Prompt using some DOS commands.

► To do this, select “Run” from the Start menu and type cmd to open the Command Prompt.

► If your printer is connected via USB, type “COPY /B [filename.prn] \\[Computer Name]\[Shared Printer Name]”.

► If your printer is connected via an older port connection, type “COPY /B [filename.prn] LPT1:”.

(Just a side-note; don’t put any box brackets while typing the names.)

Just drag and drop it on the printer icon to view the PRN file.

These were some of the methods through which you can open and view a PRN file. The misconception that people have is that you need the same type of printer to print PRN files. But the only thing required is the same printer driver installed on the computer.