PRN File – What is .prn File and How to Open It?

Would you like to know what a .prn file is and how to open it? A file with an extension ending in PRN has brought you here.

A limited number of applications only support the .prn extension. .prn files are usually data files instead of documents or media, meaning they cannot be viewed.

This article will explain a .prn file format, how to open it, convert it to a PDF file, open it on Windows and Mac, and create it.

What is a PRN File?

A PRN format file is generated by selecting the β€œPrint to File” option in the Print dialog box. The files in this format may contain images, texts, charts, tables, and any other content that can be printed.

The printer also provides instructions, such as how to use the printer tray, the number of pages needed to print, and other relevant information. PostScript (PS) files are also similar to these types of files.

It is possible to print PRN files on Mac OS X simply by clicking and dragging the file to the printer icon on the desktop.

Windows users should right-click the file and select β€œMicrosoft Office Document Imaging” from the context menu.

There is also the possibility of opening PRN files through the Windows command line, which can be accessed through the Start Menu β€œRun” option.

It is not recommended to manually open and convert such files, as this may result in damage or corruption.

How to Open a PRN File?

To open a .prn file, you must send it to a printer. Follow these steps on Windows:

  1. Open the Windows Command Prompt.
Open the Windows Command Prompt

  1. Enter this command in it, considering that you are using a networked or USB-connected printer.
copy/b yourfilename.prn \\yourcomputername\yourprintername

Note: Keep in mind, however, that a PRN file can only be adequately printed if it was created by a printer compatible with yours.

You can print a copy of your document with Apple Preview when you use a PRN file on your Mac. When you have difficulty opening PRN files in Preview, you can open them by changing their extension to .ps.

The contents of a PRN file can be viewed using any text editor, such as Microsoft Notepad, Apple TextEdit, or the GitHub Atom software.

However, since PRN files are created in various formats to be used with multiple devices, there can be no guarantee that the information in your PRN file will be of any assistance.

Additionally, you should not edit your PRN file because doing so might render the document unprintable.

How to Convert PRN Files to PDFs?

PRN files, aka printer files, are generated automatically by Postscript printers. These printers are usually laser printers that decode information/texts/documents sent to them and save the information in PRN files.

Since you can’t do much with PRN files, converting them into more user-friendly PDF files may make sense, and Adobe Reader can read them.

Follow these steps to do it quickly:

  1. Make a document in a word processing or spreadsheet program.
  2. Print the finished document to the postscript printer.

You will be creating a PRN file when you hit the print button. Before hitting the print button, ensure that every detail you wish to modify is changed in the Printer Properties tab.

You can do it here to print the file in grayscale or horizontally instead of vertically.

  1. Click the Print button, and your PRN file is created. The file’s location will be important in the next step; note where you saved it.
  2. Open the Windows Explorer menu and go to the location of the PRN file.Β 
  3. Right-click on the file and wait for the drop-down menu to appear.
  4. Choose the β€œRename” option at the bottom of the menu, and delete the β€œ.prn” extension name.
  5. Replace the file extension with a PostScript file extension: β€œ.psβ€œ.Β 
  6. Click outside of the file name box to save your changes.
  7. Open Adobe Acrobat and click on the β€œFile” option from the menu.
  8. Click on the β€œCreate PDF” option in the β€œFile” drop-down menu.
  9. Choose β€œFrom File” in the following menu. In the new window, you will be asked to browse your hard drive and search for the file you wish to convert to PDF.
  10. Locate the .ps file that you recently made and select it.
  11. Click on the β€œOpen” button in the new window. This way, a PDF file will be created and automatically opened for you.
  12. Click on β€œsave as” in the main menu to save the PDF file wherever you want.

Using this method, you have successfully converted a PRN file into a PDF document.

Open PRN File on Windows

Follow these steps to open a .prn file on Windows:

  1. Locate a PRN file in Windows OS File Explorer.
  2. Double-click on the file to run the corresponding application.

If an application cannot open the PRN file and you are instead prompted with a message stating that β€œWindows cannot open a file,” then,

  1. Look for an application that can open the file.

If you are aware of an application that can open PRN files, then,

  1. Launch the app and see if there is a File->Open main menu option.

If you don’t know any application that opens PRN files, then,

  1. Search online for β€œPRN viewer,” β€œapplication to open PRN file,” or β€œopen PRN file” queries.
  2. Install the application you found and check if it can open the PRN file.

Open PRN File on Mac OS

Follow these steps to open a .prn file on Mac:

  1. Find a .prn file in Mac OS Finder.
  2. Double-click on the file to run the corresponding application.

Note: You can click on β€œSearch App Store” to find applications compatible with PRN files if a PRN file cannot be opened in a Mac OS application, instead getting an error message that says, β€œThere is no application set for opening the file.”

  1. Select the β€œChoose Application…” option in the error box. If you know the Mac OS application that can work as a PRN file opener, associate the file extension and open the PRN file in it.
  2. Try to search online for β€œPRN viewer,” β€œapplication to open PRN file,” or β€œopen PRN file” queries if you don’t know the application which functions as a PRN file opener.
  3. Install the application and check if it can open a PRN file.

How to Create a PRN File?

Creating the PRN file is a simple process. To begin this process, it is necessary to open the Print dialog box of your program. On the File menu, you will usually find an option for printing.

Follow these steps to do this:

  1. Choose the printer the recipient uses.
  2. Check the Print to file option.
  3. Set your other print options.
  4. Click on the OK button.
How to Create a PRN File?

An important point to remember regarding PRN files is that you cannot do much with them other than print them.

Attempting to double-click would result in Windows complaining that it cannot identify the appropriate application. Using Notepad or another editor, you would see gibberish from opening the PRN file.


This article has explained a .prn file, how to open it, convert it to a PDF file, open it on Windows and Mac, and create it.

Thanks for taking the time to read this article; we are pleased to share it with you. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comments section.

Our Facebook and Twitter pages are regularly updated with new content. Please follow us there to remain up-to-date.

Leave a Reply