Slow printing of a specific PDF
April 23, 2012 2:32 PM   Subscribe

We have a laserjet 4250 at work. I'm running into an issue with it printing one specific PDF very slowly (i.e. prints a page. pauses for half a second, prints the next, pause...) Normally it spits them out very rapidly.

For example, This is the problem PDF.

Here is another, similar PDF
, and it prints just fine. Note that the second link has 50+ pages vs 40-some...

It prints slow even if I'm not running multiple copies so it's nothing with the mopier or anything that I can imagine (and if it was, I don't know why the larger guide prints perfectly fine).

Is there something I can do to fix it? Is there something wrong w/the PDF itself? If so, then I could contact the authors and hopefully have them fix it.
posted by symbioid to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
There should be an option somewhere in your PDF print dialog box that says something like "print as image." That causes your computer to render the PDF rather than the printer, which usually fixes any problems.
posted by miyabo at 2:36 PM on April 23, 2012

When I was in college they told us to print the pdf as an image to avoid this issue. Hit ctrl+p to go to the printing options and then click "advanced" to the right of the selected printer to view the advanced printing options, and select "print as image." This should help it print at normal speed.
posted by Mr. Papagiorgio at 2:37 PM on April 23, 2012

The suggestion to print it as an image is a good one and, if it works, suggests that there is a problem with either a) the pdf or b) the way your printer parses pdfs. All other things being equal, I think it's equally likely that either are the problem. However, if this is the one and only pdf that does it, then it's likely to be the fault of the specific pdf. However, I wouldn't count on the authors to be able to fix it, since many, many, many pieces of software don't follow all the rules they're supposed to for creating pdfs (making problems like this). It's even worse with .ps files, but that seems to be the printer's fault as often as it is the document's.
posted by Betelgeuse at 2:43 PM on April 23, 2012

Response by poster: Print as Image seems to not work :(

It slowed down the send-to-printer progress bar, but didn't stop the brief pausing/motor-stopping issue...

I have a feeling Betelgeuse is right that it's something specific with the pdf. I guess all I can do is hopefully ask the authors and maybe they can try to remake it. But I won't hold my fingers...
posted by symbioid at 2:45 PM on April 23, 2012

I would try printing to PDF using the "Print as Image" trick, and then subsequent prints with that new PDF should be speedier, since it will just consist of a series of images, and not have the wonky vectors/Postscript that is slowing down the print job.
posted by misterbrandt at 3:02 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

According to this spec sheet the printer only supports direct printing of PDF v1.3. Both of those linked PDF files are written with PDF v1.6, so they must be undergoing some kind of dynamic translation. I don't know why one is so much more difficult than the other. You could try re-coding it to PDF 1.3 -- try this version where I converted it using Ghostscript.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:19 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sometimes the printer can take forever to process Postscript. With HP printers that understand Postscript, there are usually two drivers; one for Postscript, and one for PCL. Try installing and using the PCL driver if there is one.
posted by zsazsa at 3:36 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was going to suggest the opposite of zsazsa, and suggest using the postscript driver. That usually fixes wonky PDF problems. Obviously, it depends on what driver is currently installed, but usually the PCL driver is the default.

(What happens is that for whatever driver is installed, the computer renders the output into that format. If it is taking a PDF source and rendering it out to PCL, it can end up creating a giant datastream. Probably, it is already converting it to an image and printing it that way. Which is not efficient, as you are finding out.)

Another thing to try is to print an information page and see how much memory is installed in the printer, and make note of the "DWS" value. (Driver work space) Look in the properties of your print driver and make sure you've got the correct amount of memory in the driver, and/or the correct DWS value in the driver. If the printer has lots of memory, but the computer doesn't know it, it will send the data in a different way that slows things down a lot.

Note: the pages with images might always take a while. But the ones with simple images and text should come flying out.
posted by gjc at 5:14 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just printing to PDF (without "Print as Image") and then printing the PDF copy might also work.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:21 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: What application are you using to handle PDF files on your computer?

I switched to Foxit Reader after Adobe Reader 7 came out because I hated the Adobe product's bloat and sloth, but I have since switched back to Adobe Reader X. The bloat is still there but the sloth is gone, and I have found that there are certain PDFs that Foxit takes forever to print (with the same print... pause... print... pause pattern you describe) that Adobe Reader X always prints very quickly.
posted by flabdablet at 9:35 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: flabdabet, you had the correct answer! I was using Reader, but version 9. I thought we had X here... I checked and it wasn't, so I upgraded and that seemed to fix it :) Thanks for all the answers folks!
posted by symbioid at 2:58 PM on April 24, 2012

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