How To: Add new PostScript Printer Description (*.ppd) files


This article pertains to ArcGIS versions 8.x, 9.x, and 10.0. Later versions of ArcGIS may contain different functionality, as well as different names and locations for menus, commands and geoprocessing tools.

When printing with PostScript to a PostScript-enabled printer, a PostScript Printer Description or PPD file can be specified as a part of the print job. However, if the PPD file for the printer is not available in ArcMap or ArcInfo, it must be added.

It is highly recommended to use ArcGIS Pro for printing and exporting, especially when experiencing issues caused by the limitations of the ArcMap display engine. More specifically, ArcGIS Pro is not restricted by the graphical device interface (GDI) limitations that some users experience in ArcMap. For example, transparency is natively supported in ArcGIS Pro, preventing the rasterization of layers. Additionally, ArcGIS Pro supports transparency in layout elements.


  1. Locate the correct PPD file for the printer either from the driver intallation disk(s) or by downloading it from the printer manufacturer's Web site.
  2. Open the PPD file in a text editor, such as Microsoft Word or Wordpad, and note the "*ModelName: ...", which is usually in the first 20 lines of the file.

    For example, in the PPD file the HP DesignJet 1055CM is listed as:
*ModelName: "HP DesignJet 1055CM PS3"
  1. Copy the PPD file into <arcinfo_workstation_install_location>\plotters\adobe_ppd.
  2. Open the file <arcinfo_workstation_install_location>\plotters\adobe_ppd\devicenames.map in a text editor such as Microsoft Word or Wordpad.
  3. Add the PPD file name, model name, and manufacturer following the example of the devicenames list.

    For example, the HP DesignJet 1055CM is listed in devicenames.map as:
hp1055c1.ppd	'HP DesignJet 1055CM PS3'	'HP'
Use tabs to separate the text columns.
  1. Restart ArcMap or ArcInfo Print and use PostScript and notice the newly added PPD file.

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