Chapter 9 - How to create PDF and PDF/A files

Your legacy print jobs can be exported in PDF files simply by selecting any Windows PDF writer as destination printer (Acrobat Distiller, eDocPrinter, Pdf995 etc.). There is nothing additional to install on the PC.

In addition, you can also have your jobs exported in PDF or PDF/A files by using GNU Ghostscript. In this case, the PDF file can be created with or without user intervention, you can encrypt it, set the permissions, an optional password to open it at a later time, and you can also choose to automatically send it via e-mail and/or print a hardcopy.

Article and Video: How to print from DOS programs to PDF files

Creating PDF files via GhostScript

GNU Ghostscript is an interpreter for the PostScript ™ language and the Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF), distributed with the GNU General Public License (GPL), which allows free use, and free copying and redistribution under certain conditions (including, in some cases, commercial distribution).

You can find more information and the source code of GNU Ghostscript at .

Please note that GNU Ghostscript is not the same as AFPL Ghostscript. The former is distributed by the Free Software Fundation, while the latter is also known to work with PRINTFIL, but is distributed under the Aladdin Free Public License (AFPL)

  1. Download the Win32 or Win64 version (depending if you're using a 32 or 64 bit Windows version) of GNU Ghostscript from and install it.
    If you don't install it in the default path, you may be required to add its BIN directory to the Windows search path.

  2. Configure the "Printfil" virtual printer, as described on the previous chapter.

All done !, you can now generate PDF and PDF/A files from PRINTFIL simply by selecting the "Printfil" printer.

If you configure PRINTFIL to show a preview of the print job, the Print button will be disabled, while the Pdf button will be enabled. Once clicked, the Pdf button will ask the user for the type of the PDF file to generate, its name, and eventually its permissions (see "secure PDF" below). The E-Mail button, in addition to create the PDF file, will automatically attach it to a newly created e-mail message.

If you configure PRINTFIL not to show the preview, a file with the same name as the ascii file (and PDF extension) will be created without user intervention, with the default permissions. For example, if your ascii text file is c:\spool\file.txt , the PDF file will be created as c:\spool\file.pdf
If you want to create it with a different file name/path, you can specify it in the optional CFG file (row n.13)
If you want to automatically send the PDF file via e-mail you have to use the optional CFG file (row n.12)
By the CFG file you can also choose to automatically open the file by using the standard PDF reader (for example Acrobat Reader), so that it can be used as an alternative to the Printfil's integrated preview.
Please see Chapter 3 about how to use the optional CFG file.

Creating a secure PDF file via GhostScript

The PDF/A ISO Standard doesn't allow encryption, while a "normal" PDF can be encrypted and password protected.

In order to create a secure PDF file (40-bit RC4), a GhostScript upgrade may be required on the PC (GPL GhostScript 8.15 or newer).

The simplest way to set the PDF permissions is by using the GUI dialogs which appears either in the Printfil's configuration window (default permissions), or by creating a PDF file through the preview window (with user intervention)

Default permissions are stored in the SecurePDF entry, in the [Options] section of the Printfil.ini file, as follows:

SecurePDF = Enc_Type | Permissions | Owner_Password | User_Password

All the fields are separated by a pipe "|" char. Only the first one is mandatory (Enc_Type). If the SecurePDF entry is missing, the PDF file will not be encrypted.


2 (fixed)


Document Security can be set with the Permissions flag. Subtract these values from -4 to disable an access.

4 = Print document
8 = Modify contents of document
16 = Copy text and graphics from document
32 = Add or modify text annotations

To allow printing and copying, but disable modifying the content and annotations, the value is -4-8-32 so use -44. To enable all, use -4. To disable all, use -64.

If not specified, all permissions are granted.


Used for encrypting the file. If not specified "Printfil" will be used


If specified, the end user will have to insert a password in order to open the PDF file.


SecurePDF=2|-44 - The PDF file will be secured. The end user can only print it or extract its content.

SecurePDF=2|||John Doe - To open the PDF file, the end user will have to insert the John Doe password, then he'll be able to perform any operation to the file.

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