Matteo Mattei

Hello, my name is Matteo Mattei and this is my personal website. I am computer engineer with a long experience in Linux system administration and web software development.

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How to directly print from web browser

Fortunately the web browsers have been created to protect the client environment from executing client processes and accessing client resources. However sometimes this limitation is too strong and does not let us to do some simple things like direct print a document without opening an intermediate print pop-up.

I searched in Google for a long time and experimented several tests before summarizing all possibilities I found. There is no a single way to achieve it and every option has some pros and cons depending on the environment and conditions you have.

Direct printing using a system call




Details: The idea here is to have a web server running for example Apache and PHP (but every other server-side language would be OK). On the same PC a printer is connected and configured using CUPS (on Linux). When a user clicks a button or a link in the web page, a PHP script executes a system() call to lpr that creates one ore more printer jobs depending on the number of documents passed.

The function above accepts a string of documents (space separated), sends a printer command and then polls the printer queue (the spooler) using lpd command and wait for the printer to return ready. Just for reference, the above function is a snippet of code I used to print barcodes with a Dymo LabelWrite 450 Turbo and 99012 paper labels.

Direct printing using browser options




Details: In this case we have to modify the preferences of the web browser and/or execute it in a particular mode (like kiosk mode for example). As you know, every browser has a different configuration… From the web side we can use the Javascript window.print() function. Use the following instructions based on the web browser you are using:

  1. Chrome You need to have Chrome version 18.0.1 or higher. From Chrome, open a new tab and type info:config then make sure the Disable Print Preview flag is NOT enabled (Print preview must be enabled for Kiosk Printing to work). Now set your application the default page to open when Chrome launches and then close the browser. Now you have to execute Chrome in kiosk mode. To do it just append --kiosk --kiosk-printing to the chrome executable. Chrome should now start in kiosk mode (full-screen) and from here you should be able to print directly from the browser.

  2. Firefox In Firefox open a new tab and type about:config in the address bar. Then right click on the white space and select NEW > BOOLEAN and in the text edit that appears type print.always_print_silent, hit OK and then select true. This procedure writes a line to prefs.js file (on Windows) or user.js file on Linux and the next time you start the browser, any Javascript print(); function will print directly to the printer using the currently configured print settings.

You can use the following test page to test the direct printing using browser options:

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