The Differences Between the PostScript and PCL Drivers

Most of the Xerox printers and multifunction printers can use either the PostScript or PCL driver.  You might find this post informative and helpful in deciding which driver is best for you and your business. This article is taken straight from a case in our online support.

Printer Control Language
NOTE: PCL is a trademark of the Hewlett-Packard Company.

Printer Control Language, or PCL, is a common printing language used widely by many different printer manufacturers. PCL is supported by many different operating systems which allows for the same printer to work in many different environments.

PCL is device dependent. This means that the drivers for this language utilize the printer hardware for creating some of the printed data, usually graphics data such as fill areas, underlines or fonts. This allows the computer to process the print job quickly and efficiently. The printer is then responsible to complete the creation and processing of page data. Individual printers may perform these tasks differently giving you a slightly different output.


  • Fast print processing.
  • Widely supported in many different operating system platforms.


  • The same print job on two different printers may vary slightly.
  • Quality of graphics is dependent on the print device.
  • Not supported in most Macintosh environments.


PostScript language, or PS, is a common printing language also used widely by many different printer manufacturers. It is used heavily in Macintosh platforms and for graphic applications in several platforms. It is a device-independent page description language developed by Adobe, which is used to print and display pictures and text. PostScript 3 and newer includes many enhancements to older versions of PostScript, including improved image quality and color.

Unlike PCL, PostScript is device independent. This means that the PostScript language creates all of the print data and does not rely on the printer for print data. This allow the output to be consistent when printed on more than one type of printer or print device. Specifically, the graphic objects will be consistent and in some cases of higher quality than PCL.

  • Graphical objects are often more detailed.
  • The same print file should print identically on two or more different print devices. (This most beneficial when used for printing drafts on one printer then sending out to a printing company for production.)


  • Print processing can be slow.
  • Not found in as many platforms as PCL.
  • Print file and memory requirements are larger.

NOTE: PPD (PostScript Printer Description file) is a file containing information about a particular PostScript print device’s capabilities and restrictions. The information in the PPD is presented via the printer driver.
Choose the driver that is right for you and your business and download the current version of your driver from the support page for your machine.

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  1. Jorge April 22, 2015 - Reply

    I was hoping find the ‘optional postscript drivers’ at the bottom of the page; useful information by the way

    • Cheryl Otstott April 22, 2015 - Reply

      Hi Jorge,
      Thank you for reading the At Your Service blog. You can find the drivers on the support pages. Just type in the model number of your machine and then choose the Drivers & Downloads tab.

  2. Francisco December 12, 2015 - Reply

    I just bought this Pharser 3020 but when in Adobe Illustrator the “Mode” to “Separation (Host-Based” is disabled, Why? What do I need to do in order to enable it, maybe it needs a Postscript PPD file? please I need a workaround ASAP. Kind Regards.

    • Cheryl Otstott December 14, 2015 - Reply

      Hi Francisco,
      Thank you for reading the At Your Service blog. I am not familiar with the issue you are seeing. Please consider calling your local support centre for assistance.

  3. Francisco December 13, 2015 - Reply

    Hi, I’m looking activate postscript for Xerox Phaser 3020, any workaround to solve this? TIA.

    • Cheryl Otstott December 14, 2015 - Reply

      Hi Francisco,
      I am not familiar with the Phaser 3020. Please contact your local support centre for assistance with your printer.

  4. Francisco December 13, 2015 - Reply

    Hi, how to print halftones with Xeron Phaser 3020??? I use Adobe Ilustrator. TIA.

    • Cheryl Otstott December 14, 2015 - Reply

      Hi again Francisco,
      I am not familiar with the machine you have so you would need to contact your local support centre please.

  5. Bryan December 16, 2016 - Reply


    Would you recommend the Phaser 3020? 😉

    • Cheryl Otstott January 10, 2017 - Reply

      Hi Bryan,
      Thank you for reading the blog. The Phaser 3020 is a good printer but the printer you would want/need would depend on the applications you need. The Phaser 3020 is small but fast. The print quality is sharp and it prints up to 22 pages per minute. You can review the specifications and documentation.

  6. Sloba February 19, 2017 - Reply

    Hello, I need security network PIN code for phaser 3020? I’m not able to find this pin code in doccumentation for printer I bought. I’m trying to use printer wifi network,but I need this PIN code. Please help!?
    Best regards,

    • Cheryl Otstott February 23, 2017 - Reply

      Hi Sloba,
      Thank you for reading the blog. The default id is admin and the default password is 1111. If the defaults have been changed please contract your local support centre to have a technician come out and reset the machine.

  7. horacy February 24, 2017 - Reply

    Hi do You know the difference between this and PCL XL driver??

    • Cheryl Otstott February 28, 2017 - Reply

      Hi Horacy,
      Thank you for reading the blog. The PCL XL is an older term used for the PCL 6 driver. So there is really not a difference between the PCL XL and the PCL 6 drivers. I hope that helps, if not please consider contacting your local support centre.

  8. William Lee February 27, 2018 - Reply

    Thanks for your explanation. Very useful!!

    • Cheryl Otstott February 28, 2018 - Reply

      Hi William,
      Thank you for reading the At Your Service blog and thank you for the compliment, I appreciate you taking the time to comment!!

  9. Drew April 29, 2018 - Reply

    Hi Cheryl,
    You say “Print file and memory requirements are larger.”
    Does this refer to the PC memory or the memory in the printer?
    I know that printers have different amounts of memory; and that some printers can be fitted with more memory.
    What are the pros and cons to having more memory in the printer and in the PC with respect to the speed of print jobs?

    • Cheryl Otstott April 30, 2018 - Reply

      Hi Drew,
      Thank for reading the At Your Service blog. The memory on both the PC (print queue) and the printer itself are required to be larger when sending large jobs with a PS driver. You do not mention the machine you are using so I can not speak to the specifics but if your normal print processes include printing large documents on a regular basis then increasing the memory on your printer might help speed up the process. The con to more memory is the cost, there are not any other cons I can think of. For additional information please consider contacting your local support centre.

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