PostScript and PCL Drivers – What is the Difference?

We still get many questions about the differences between PostScript and PCL drivers so let’s take a look at these two types of drivers. Most of the Xerox printers and multifunction printers can use either the PostScript or PCL driver.  Please be aware that the PostScript function may be an optional feature on some printers. The PostScript feature would need to be purchased and installed prior to using a PostScript 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.

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • 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

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.

Pros:

  • 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.)

Cons:

  • 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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8 Comments

  1. Matt March 7, 2018 - Reply

    excellent article to describe the difference between Post Script and PCL drivers!!!

    Thank you.

    • Cheryl Otstott March 29, 2018 - Reply

      Hi Matt,
      Thank you for reading the article. I am glad you found it useful!
      Thanks,
      CherylO-Xerox

  2. trey forsman March 14, 2018 - Reply

    I need to be able to print to the xerox Versalink B7030 printer. I have a MAC OS 10.11.16. Can you tell me what will let me print to it?

    • Cheryl Otstott March 29, 2018 - Reply

      Hi Trey,
      Thank you for reading the At Your Service blog. Please use the current driver for the Mac 10.11 that was posted in February 2018.If this does not help please consider contacting your local support centre for additional assistance.
      Thanks,
      CherylO-Xerox

  3. Cher June 8, 2019 - Reply

    Printing from Windows 7, Office 7 to Xerox phaser8550. Neither word 7 or Adobe PDF will allow me to print in color. There is no choice for color in the print screen. Just paper size, even double-sided appears turned off. The tiny page icon on the print screen shows color, not grayscale, yet it prints in grayscale.

  4. Lynnette Burton December 3, 2019 - Reply

    Very informative article. Do you require to add the optional hard drive when adding the Postscipt?

    • Cheryl Otstott February 17, 2020 - Reply

      Hi Lynnette,
      Thank you for reading the blog and I am glad you found it informative. You do not mention which printer you are using but most do not require the optional hard drive to ass the postscript feature. You can double check this by going to the support page for your model of printer and search on postscript or by contacting your local support centre.
      Thanks,
      CherylO-Xerox

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