Saving and viewing a .prn file

Hello, I'm hoping to buy time by asking; I have an application that can print a .prn file.  I can save this file to my hard drive.  I need to open this file in either a WORD, Notepad or better yet open it in Excel.
I searched, but what I found did not work.  I wish I could share the file, but I can't.
Might you have experience opening up this type of file?
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Missus Miss_SellaneusCommented:
A .prn file contains all the codes to correctly print a document on whatever model of printer you told it to create the document for. As far as I know, the only way to correctly view it is to actually print it using that same model of printer. They're all different because all printers use different codes.
Saqib Husain, SyedEngineerCommented:
Can you elaborate on "Did not work" and what you "found"?

Normally you can open prn files by selecting "Text files" from the "Files of type" box on the open dialog box
Ned RamsayNetwork Operations ManagerCommented:
If you use a postscript driver then you could probably open it with Ghostscript and convert it to PDF if not another file type.
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Ned is correct in the case of PostScript. Ghostscript can be used to view PS files.

Other printer's files may be viewed with different viewers. Examples are:

PCL5: OpenPCL Viewer, SwiftView and others
PCL6: SwiftView Pro

For other printers, e.g. those that support ESC/P (Epson) and all GDI printers (most of the low cost inkjets and lasers), no viewers are available as far as I know.

If there is something else you want to do, besides just viewing the print, please advise.
I agree with hdhondt's comments.

>> ... I need to open this file in either a WORD, Notepad or better yet open it in Excel ...

To what end? What are you trying to achieve?

Bear in mind that the output of some printers drivers (especially those for inkjet devices, or the cheaper 'host-based' laser printers) is a series of device-dependent-format raster images, so you could only retrieve text from these using Optical Character Recognition techniques.
chimaAuthor Commented:
Thank you all for your replies.  Allow me to address all of your questions without address each one; I tried changing the extension to .txt, .doc, .xlsx, tried Notepad, wordpad, but nothing worked.
I simply need to view it.  I do not want to print it because tha file can be well over 100 pages.
I'll try to get Ghostscript.  I am at a company that does not allow installation of unapproved applications.
I'll get back with you.
GhostScript will only process PostScript files.

Another open-source utility is GhostPCL which can supposedly process PCL print file (not sure if this is only PCL4/5, or if it includes PCL3 GUI, PCL3 Enhanced, PCL XL, JetReady, etc.)

hdhondt has already mentioned some (not open source) PCL Viewer applications; Page Tech also offer a relevant application (see PCL Reader).
>> ... I wish I could share the file, but I can't ...

Can you not generate a test file, with 'sanitised' data, so that we could at least attempt to determine which Page Description Language is being used?
Then we might be able to offer more-directed advice.
chimaAuthor Commented:
DansDadUK from what you wrote; I'm assuming that PCL files are equivalent to PRN files.  My other problem hear at work is that I can't download a app without security approval.  i can't take the file home to work with it.  I think I'll submit a ticket to Support, see if they have some method.
Am I correct in guessing that somebody else created this PRN file, and you have no idea what printer it is intended for?

If the printer is a large networked printer then the file most likely contains PS or PCL5/6 code, and you can use one of the mentioned viewers. If it is a small laser/inkjet, especially if USB connected, then the file is most likely in GDI format, and no viewer is available for that.

If you are not allowed to install apps, can you take the file home and install one of the apps mentioned on a home computer?
>> ... I'm assuming that PCL files are equivalent to PRN files ...

.prn files (like any other type of file) can contain anything you like (e.g. I can take a Word .docx document file and rename it as a .txt file, but a text reader (such as NotePad) will certainly not display the same output as when you opened the original file with Word).

By convention, .prn files should only contain the output from printer drivers (otherwise life is made much more difficult).

But the format of the content will vary according to the Page Description Language in use; as I mentioned before, this may be PCL (PCL4 or PCL5e or PCL5c variants), or PCL3 GUI, PCL3 Enhanced, PCL XL, PCLm/PCLmS, JetReady, PostScript, KPDL, ESC/P, etc., etc.).

None of the print file viewers mentioned can handle all of these different PDLs.

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chimaAuthor Commented:
Hi chima

Thanks for the points, but what did you do to resolve the problem?
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