How to print to a file for HP printers

Recent print drivers for HP printers no longer have the handy “print to file” option for the user to save driver output to a file. What follows are some instructions based on windows 7 and the HP M251 model laserjet printer PCLXL driver to explain how to print to a file. These instructions and the general process should work with other HP printers which do not offer the Print to File checkbox in the driver UI.

1. In windows, open the “Devices and Printer’s folder” (Start Button -> Devices and Printers)
2. Right click on the printer and select “Printer properties”
3. Go to the Ports tab
4. Note which port is currently being used. We are going to change this and you will eventually need to reset it (see step 9) to return to normal printing mode (as opposed to print to file).
5. Click on the “Add Port…” button
6. Choose “Local Port” then click “New Port…”
7. For the port name, enter a path to save the .prn file to. Use a directory under the C:\Users\ to ensure there will be no permission issues.(ie I use C:\Users\\Desktop\capture.prn)
8. Print the file just like normal
9. Reset the port back to its original value. If you don’t do this, subsequent print jobs will overwrite the capture.prn file on your hard drive and not be delivered to the actual printer.

If you have problems, please post a comment including the printer model and your version of windows and I’ll do my best to help.