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Understanding Printer Drivers: PCL vs PS

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Understanding Printer Drivers

Printer Driver PCL vs PS

Printer drivers are essential software programs that allow computer applications to communicate with printers. Simply put, a printer driver acts as a translator between your computer and printer, ensuring that you can produce hard copies of the data stored on your computer. Printer drivers come in many types and formats, each designed to support different printing techniques, languages, and protocols. Two of the most common printer driver formats are PCL and PS. This article will delve deeper into what printer drivers are and the differences between PCL vs PS.

What is a Printer Driver?

A printer driver is software designed to communicate with your printer and computer to ensure that your printer can understand and process print jobs. When you send a print job to your printer, the printer driver translates the file from your computer’s native language into a language that your printer can understand. The driver then sends the file to the printer, where it prints out the data.

Without a printer driver, your printer would not be able to understand how to process the files, printing garbled text, or not printing at all. It’s crucial to ensure that your printer drivers are up-to-date to avoid any printing problems.

Different Printer Driver Formats

As mentioned earlier, different printers require different printer drivers to operate correctly. Printer driver formats differ in terms of the supported printing protocols, languages, and techniques. Some of the common printer driver formats include:

  • PCL (Printer Command Language) – This printer driver format is designed to support a wide range of printer models, including laser printers, multifunction printers, and IPDS printers. PCL drivers are compatible with most operating systems, including Windows, Mac, and Unix. It provides support for multiple fonts and graphic formats such as Bitmap, JPEG, and TIFF.
  • PS (PostScript) – This printer driver format was developed by Adobe Systems and is mainly used in graphic designing and publishing industries. PS drivers are designed to offer high-quality printing for specialized printing tasks such as PDFs, desktop publishing, and color printing. It is compatible with most operating systems, including Windows, Mac, and Unix.
  • XPS (XML Paper Specification) – This printer driver format was developed by Microsoft in response to the rise of PDFs. It provides high-quality printing for text and graphics and is compatible with most versions of Windows.
  • ZPL (Zebra Programming Language) – This printer driver format was developed by Zebra Technologies and is mainly used for printing barcode labels. It provides support for various barcode formats such as Code 39, UPC, and EAN.


PCL and PS are two of the most common printer driver formats. Both formats have their strengths and limitations.

PCL Driver Format

As mentioned earlier, PCL is a printer driver format designed to support a broad range of printing tasks. PCL drivers offer faster printing speeds than PS drivers and can handle large print jobs with ease. Furthermore, PCL drivers are compatible with most operating systems, ensuring that they can work in various environments.

PS Driver Format

PS is a printer driver format mainly used in graphic designing and publishing. PS drivers offer higher quality printing than PCL drivers and are designed to handle complex printing tasks that require a high degree of accuracy. Additionally, PS drivers offer support for advanced print features such as color management and font embedding, making it ideal for professional printing tasks.

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Printer drivers are essential components of printers, making it possible for users to print data stored on their computers. While there are different printer driver formats available, PCL and PS are the two most common formats widely used in most printer models. Choosing between these two formats depends on the type of printing task that you want to accomplish. If you need to perform graphics-intensive tasks such as desktop publishing or PDF printing, then PS should be your driver of choice. On the other hand, if you need to handle general printing tasks such as printing emails or text files, then PCL is an excellent option that offers fast printing speeds and compatibility with most operating systems.

What is PCL?

PCL driver image

PCL stands for Printer Control Language, which is a page description language (PDL) developed by Hewlett Packard. It was first introduced in 1984 and has become a popular printing language used by various printer manufacturers.

PCL is a language that allows the computer to communicate with the printer, telling it what to print, how to print it, and where it should appear on the page. PCL files are created when a document is sent to the printer, and the printer uses the language to create the image that will be printed on the page.

PCL is a command-based language, which means that it sends a series of commands to the printer to create an image. These commands can include instructions on how to position text and graphics, how to use different fonts, and how to control color. PCL is a very efficient language, and it can be used to create high-quality images quickly and easily.

One of the main advantages of PCL is that it is widely supported by various printers and operating systems, making it a reliable and universal choice for printing. PCL is also very versatile and can be used for a variety of printing tasks, from simple text documents to complex reports and graphics.

However, one of the limitations of PCL is that it is not as flexible as other printing languages, such as PostScript. PCL has fewer capabilities when it comes to complex graphics and images, and it is not as efficient when it comes to printing photographs.

In summary, PCL is a page description language used by various printer manufacturers to communicate with their printers. It is a command-based language that can be used to create high-quality images quickly and easily. While it has some limitations when it comes to complex graphics and images, it is a reliable and universal choice for printing.

Advantages of PCL Driver

Advantages of PCL Driver

The Printer Control Language (PCL) is a printer language developed by Hewlett-Packard. PCL drivers are frequently used in business settings and are compatible with many types of printers. There are numerous advantages to using PCL drivers for your printing needs, including:

1. Faster Printing Speeds

One of the primary advantages of PCL drivers is their ability to increase printing speeds. PCL drivers are capable of sending large print jobs to the printer quickly, which reduces the wait time for printed materials. The PCL driver accomplishes this by processing print jobs on the computer, rather than relying on the printer to do all of the work. This speeds up the printing process and helps prevent delays in production.

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2. Increased Compatibility

PCL drivers are widely compatible with many types of printers, making them a popular choice for businesses who use a variety of printers in their offices. Since PCL drivers are so widely accepted, it is easier to print to different printers without having to worry about compatibility issues. As a result, businesses can save time and money by using PCL drivers instead of having to install different drivers for each printer they use.

3. Enhanced Color Management

Enhanced Color Management PCL Driver

The PCL driver also provides enhanced color management features that help achieve more accurate color representation in printed materials. This is especially important for businesses that rely on professional printing, such as advertising agencies, publishers, and graphic designers. The PCL driver provides a wide range of color options and settings, allowing users to create color-rich and vibrant designs that accurately represent their brand’s identity.

4. Lower Overall Printing Costs

Another advantage of using PCL drivers is their ability to reduce printing costs. PCL drivers provide more control over the printing process, allowing users to customize settings that can help save money in the long run. For example, users can adjust printer resolution, color depth, and ink saturation levels to create prints that use less ink or toner. This results in lower overall printing costs and helps businesses stay within their budgets.

5. Easy to Use

Finally, PCL drivers are easy to use and typically require little training or setup. The driver features an intuitive user interface that makes it easy to navigate and customize settings. Additionally, PCL drivers are designed to work seamlessly with commonly used software programs, such as Microsoft Office, which makes it easy to print documents and other materials without having to adjust settings for each print job.

In conclusion, PCL drivers offer numerous advantages that make them the preferred choice for many businesses and individuals. From faster printing speeds and enhanced color management to increased compatibility and lower printing costs, the benefits of PCL drivers are clear. If you’re in the market for a printer driver, consider the advantages of PCL and see if it is right for your printing needs.

What is PS?


PS or PostScript is a page description language developed by Adobe Systems in 1982. The language was designed to be used for printing documents with the same formatting and layout across different devices, including printers, monitors, and typesetting equipment. Unlike PCL, which is a printer language that describes the output of a printer, PostScript describes the content that needs to be printed, in other words it provides detailed instructions on how a document should appear on the printed page.

PostScript files can be created from a variety of sources, including word processors, desktop publishing software, and graphics programs. Once a PostScript file is created, it can be sent to a compatible printer or converted to another file format, such as PDF.

PostScript was one of the earliest page description languages and was widely used in the printing industry throughout the 1980s and 1990s. However, its popularity declined with the rise of other page description languages like PCL and PDF.

While PostScript has largely been replaced by PDF, it still has some advantages, particularly when it comes to printing high-quality graphics. This is because PostScript supports vector graphics, which allow images to be printed at any size without loss of quality. In contrast, raster graphics, which are used in most other file formats, become pixelated when enlarged beyond their original size.

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Despite its advantages in printing graphics, PostScript has some downsides, including its larger file size, slower printing speeds, and higher cost. Additionally, not all printers are compatible with PostScript, so it may not be the best choice for all printing applications.

Overall, PostScript is a powerful page description language that has had a significant impact on the printing industry. While it has largely been replaced by newer technologies, it still has a place in certain printing applications, particularly those that require high-quality graphics.

What is Printer Driver PCL vs PS?

When it comes to printing with a computer, the printer driver plays a crucial role. It is the software that connects the computer and the printer hardware, allowing the computer to command the printer to churn out a legible printed document. There are several types of printer drivers available, such as PostScript (PS) and Printer Control Language (PCL). Both of these drivers offer different benefits and features that cater to different printing needs.

Advantages of PS Driver

PS Driver

PostScript (PS) is a page description language that was developed by Adobe Systems. It is widely used in the printing industry by different printer manufacturers to produce high-quality printing output. The PS driver translates documents into a language that can be understood by the printer hardware. Here are some advantages of using PS driver:

1. High-quality printing output

The PS driver is popular for delivering high-quality printing output because it uses a collection of integrated algorithms to describe the content of pages and how they should be printed. This is important for printing images, graphics, and text documents that require accurate representation.

2. Advanced post-processing features

The PS driver offers advanced post-processing features, which are beneficial for applications that require professional-looking documents. It includes features like watermarks, form overlays, and page numbering, among others. These features add value to the printing output and improve the overall quality of the documents.

3. Improved color consistency

The PS driver ensures consistent color accuracy from document to document. This is crucial for businesses that rely on printing to create brand identity materials and other important documents. By using the PS driver, the color quality remains consistent in all prints, making it easier to achieve consistent branding.

4. Font management

The PS driver also includes font management capabilities, which enables printing of documents, irrespective of the device on which the document was created, without any loss of font accuracy. This feature ensures that all documents are uniform and consistent, regardless of the device used to create them.

5. Compatibility


The PS driver is compatible with most printers, irrespective of their manufacturer. If the printer has PostScript support, it can work with the PS driver. This feature makes the PS driver a versatile solution for printing requirements. It is compatible with several operating systems, including Windows and MacOS.

In conclusion, the PS driver offers several advantages over other printer drivers, and it is the preferred choice for various printing needs. The features offered by PS make it ideal for printing documents, images, and graphics that require a high degree of accuracy and consistency. Its compatibility with most printer models ensures that it can cater to multi-device printing requirements.