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Specifying a Paper Tray in a Macro

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Specifying a Paper Tray in a Macro.

If you use macros to print your worksheets, you already know that the macro can specify the actual printer to which output should be sent. What if you want to also specify a specific paper tray to be used on that printer? Unfortunately, this gets to be a bit of a sticky wicket. The problem is that when you click on the Options button in the Page Setup dialog box in order to set which paper tray to use, what you see is completely under the control of your printer driver, not under the control of Excel.

What does this mean to you? It means there are no commands you can use in an Excel macro to specify a printer tray. There are some workarounds that you can try, however. The first workaround is to simply define different printer definitions in Windows, each one tailored to use a specific printer tray. Follow these general steps:

  1. Determine how many paper trays you want to use on the printer.
  2. Define a new printer for each paper tray you want to use. For instance, if you want to use three different paper trays, you would define three printers, each with a name representative of a paper tray.
  3. Right-click on a printer definition and change the properties of the printer so it prints to the desired paper tray.
  4. Repeat step 3 for each of the other printer definitions, making sure you specify different paper trays for each one.

At this point you have multiple printer definitions set up, and each will print to a different paper tray on the same printer. Within Excel you can specify the desired printer, in a macro, so that the printout goes to the desired printer definition, and hence to the desired paper tray. The only drawback to this solution, of course, is that it takes quite a bit of setup work. If you work in an office with 50 users, this means you will need to make sure all 50 have each printer defined as described above.

Another workaround involves the use of the SendKeys statement in your macro. You can find information on SendKeys in the VBA online help available with Excel, but what it basically does is to stuff the keyboard buffer with a series of keypresses, just as they would be typed by the user. Thus, you could theoretically set up the macro to emulate the keypresses you would follow to open the Page Setup dialog box, click on Options, and select a different printer tray.

There is a potential problem with SendKeys, however. It can be unreliable because there is no way to insure that the keystrokes are actually going where you want. On a multi-threaded operating system (like Windows), some other process could intervene and derail the commands. In addition, if SendKeys works on your computer, it may not work on someone else's computer unless they have the same version of Excel, same printer, and same printer driver version.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2213) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Specifying a Paper Tray in a Macro.

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