Xpdf - PDFtoPS - Command Line Utility to Convert a PDF File to PS (PostScript)

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Experience Level: Intermediate
Joe Winograd
50+ years in computers
EE FELLOW 2017 — first ever recipient of Fellow award
MVE 2015,2016,2018
In this tenth video of my Xpdf series, I discuss and demonstrate the PDFtoPS utility, which converts a PDF file to PostScript (PS). Also, it provides an option allowing creation of an Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) file. It performs its functions via a command line interface, making it suitable for use in programs, scripts, batch files — any place where a command line call can be made.

Video Steps

1. Download the software

You may have already downloaded the Xpdf tools while watching one of my earlier videos in the series, but there has since been an upgrade from Version 3 to Version 4 and there is a new download site:


Visit that site and download the pre-compiled Windows binary ZIP archive, then unzip it.


2. Locate the documentation folder for the Xpdf utilities

Go to the folder where you unzipped the downloaded ZIP file and find the doc folder.


3. Read the documentation for the PDFtoPS tool

Go into the doc folder and find the plain text file called pdftops.txt.

Open it with any text editor, such as Notepad, and read it. This is the documentation for the PDFtoPS tool.


4. Set up a test folder

Create a test folder.

Copy pdftops.exe from the unzipped bin32 folder into your test folder.

Copy a sample PDF file into your test folder.


5. Set up a command prompt for testing

Open a command prompt window.

Navigate to your test folder.

Issue a DIR command in the command prompt to be sure that only two files are in it - the PDFtoPS executable and the sample PDF file.


6. Run the PDFtoPS utility to create the PostScript file

Issue the following command in the command prompt:

pdftops TestFileName.pdf

If you receive the following error messages, ignore them:
Config Error: No display font for 'Symbol'
Config Error: No display font for 'ZapfDingbats'


7. Verify that it created the PostScript file

Either print the PostScript file or open it in a text editor to verify that it was created correctly.

That's it! If you find this video to be helpful, please click the thumbs-up icon above. Thank you for watching!
LVL 37


by:Andrew Leniart
Great video and introduction to a very useful tool indeed.
LVL 76

Author Comment

by:Joe Winograd
Thank you, Andrew, I appreciate the compliment and the endorsement. Happy New Year! Regards, Joe
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