Printing to a Disk File

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 5, 2018)


Let's say you work in an office and are preparing a presentation with Excel. You want your presentation to look as good as it can, but the only printer you have is an old low-resolution ink-jet printer. While this output might be acceptable for some purposes, you want your presentation to look real good. You know that Joe, down the hall, has a 1200dpi (dots per inch) PostScript color laser printer (lucky Joe!), and this would give your presentation the punch you need. Unfortunately, Joe's printer is not available through your office network. Short of unplugging his printer and hefting it down to your office, what do you do?

The easiest solution is to print your workbook to disk or to a thumb drive (one of those little memory-based drives) and then take the file down to Joe's computer where you can send it to the printer. While this might seem complicated, it is not really. There is, however, a specific sequence of steps you must follow:

  1. Make sure you have a Windows printer driver for Joe's printer installed on your machine. This might seem strange, particularly since his printer is not attached to your system. It is necessary, however, since the printer driver provides the interface between Windows and the target printer (Joe's printer).
  2. Start Excel and load the workbook you want to print.
  3. Choose Print from the File menu. Excel displays the Print dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Print dialog box.

  5. Make sure that Joe's printer driver is selected in the Name drop-down list.
  6. Make sure the Print to File check box is selected.
  7. Print as normal.

When you print, you will be asked for a filename where you want the printer output stored. Supply a regular filename. Outside of this, printing will appear to progress as normal. When you have finished printing, you can then copy the newly created output file to the disk or thumb drive and walk it down to Joe's machine. If the name of the file is REPORT.OUT , you would enter the following at the command prompt on Joe's machine:


Just replace the F: with the drive letter of the drive on which your output file is located. (Chances are good it will be something else.) This command sends the report file to the parallel printer port on Joe's machine.

Shortly you will have the output you desire. (If you use this command and it does not seem to work properly on Joe's system, try it by adding a space and a /B to the end of the line.)

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3240) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is five more than 3?

2013-06-24 11:46:20

Scott Renz

Hi David Grainger,

Joe does not have Excel on his computer.


2013-06-23 12:32:36

Dave Unger

Also, I haven't figured out how to use this "printing to a file" tip if the target printer is connected via a USB instead of a parallel port

2013-06-22 05:44:45

David Grainger

It would be more simple just to save the workbook to a portable memory device (disk or memory stick) then go along to Joe's computer. Call the file up from the memory device and print as normal. That is what we used to do back in the days before we networked our computers.

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