Troubleshooting PostScript errors

This page lists general tips and tricks on how to solve or work around PostScript errors. Use the information provided in the Basics section to determine exactly what PostScript error and offending command you got hit with. Then do one of the following (not necessarily in that order but this seems to be the most logical approach to me):

1. Try printing one more time

Take a deep breath, look through the window during a couple of seconds, check all the parameters in the Print windows, and print again. Sometimes a simple mistake like setting the orientation wrong causes errors.

Have a colleague print the job. He or she may instantly see what you did wrong. Everybody makes a stupid mistake once in a while (I once spent 2 hours troubleshooting a ‘broken’ Mac, only to find out the keyboard wasn’t plugged in properly).

This is definitely the first thing to try if no other documents or applications cause similar problems.

2. Cut the print job into smaller pieces

Don’t print large jobs with many pages or big images in one go. Print a couple of pages at the time or even one single page at the time. This makes it easier for both your computer and the RIP to process the file. Always try this approach if you have an older printer or RIP.

3. Search for solutions for your specific error

Look up both the error and offending command in my database of PS errors and offending commands. This may give you a clue as to what to do next.

Check out other sites as well by searching the web for pages about the specific PostScript error or offending command. Another alternative is to post your question on the b4print prepress forum.

4. Switch to another computer, app, driver,…

Print the job from another computer, from another version or copy of the application used to create the file and try switching drivers.

Always print the file to another PostScript device as well. If the same error occurs, you are at least sure the error is somehow related to your document or the way it is created or printed. The reverse is not true: if a document prints on one device but not on another, this does not mean that that device is unreliable or faulty. The inconsistency may be caused by differences in drivers, memory and hard disk capacity, installed fonts, workflow, or PostScript revisions. PostScript aims to be device-independent but it obviously isn’t. I always print troublesome files to file and then use Acrobat Distiller to check whether it generates the same error.

5. Reset everything

Reset your computer, the RIP or printer and print again. This may seem like a stupid thing to do but it often helps, especially with older machines. If you still have a PostScript level 1 device, delete the font cache when PostScript errors occur.

Many applications like Adobe InDesign ‘reset’ a document when you use the ‘Save as’ option to save a file. This forces the application to clean up the internal structure of the document.

6. Repurpose the document

PostScript errors can often be avoided by repurposing or ‘refrying’  a document.

  • A classic workaround is to create a PDF from your document and print that PDF.
  • Another possible solution is to refresh all page content: open all elements from the page (the digital pictures, scans, and drawings) in the originating application or in Photoshop or Illustrator and resave them. By preference try saving them in another format if possible (e.g. save all TIFFs as EPS files). Save native files (e.g. AI files or PSD files in a previous version of the applications file format (Adobe Illustrator is a prime example of an application that allows you to save its files as a version that is compatible with older release). After resaving all page elements, update the links to them in the layout application and print again.
  • You could also try copying the entire content of the document to a new document.
  • For years I used a CtP workflow in which I could send individual pages to the RIP and have the system impose those 1-bit files to a single flat. That was often an excellent workaround when the RIP refuses to process an entire flat in one go.

7. Contact your supplier

Call your prepress supplier. You may have stumbled upon a bug they have known about for ages, but never bothered to tell you about. Sometimes a PostScript error itself points in this direction: something along the lines of ‘PostScript error: invalidaccess offending command ACMEdict’ must in some way relate to the ACME printer that you bought.

8. Use the hardware to solve the problem

See if a quick manual workaround can’t get you past the problem. I have had to deal with customers who were actually insulted when I told them to output two separate pieces of film and do a quick dupe on their old contact frame. They would rather waste hours trying to output one shiny film on their imagesetter than use the frame that is still available in a corner of the shop.

If your printer refuses to print a double-sided job, why not try to print one side, turn the page and load it in the cassette again and then print the opposite side?

Other sources of information

The Adobe technote on troubleshooting PostScript errors is a good reference..

4 thoughts on “Troubleshooting PostScript errors

  1. 9. Remove error handler from the job and test the file on Ghostscript. Ghostscript generates more detailed error messages than any other RIP. Use -dESTACKPRINT and -dOSTACKPRINT options to have even more detailed error report.

    10. Ask a programmer. Please contact Coscript Consulting for professional resolution of PostScript and PDF issies: [email protected] or +1 (610) 529 3475.

    1. i think you have first try to bower off then remove and add the printer driver or by removing the printer and start with new setting ….. just try 🙂

  2. how to check 8bit tiff for all images in indesign at a time

    why 8 bit tiff check is necessary

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