Scott Hanselman

I'm in love with FinePrint

July 12, '05 Comments [10] Posted in Reviews | Tools
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FineprintOMG, I'm in love with FinePrint. This is the kind of tool that BillG should just bake into the OS. Just give these folks a million bucks and build it in. I'm so sick of 50 different printer drivers all behaving differently. FinePrint totally evens the playing field and has made my life (and my move to GTD) way easier.

It's a "fake" (virtual) printer driver that basically sits between you and your real printer. You print everything to FinePrint and it gives you an opportunity to mess with the pending print job.

Most interestingly, you can change 1:1 print jobs to 2, 4 or 8 up. This ROCKS. I can take 4 page long meeting agendas and print them on one page to any printer. (Some expensive copier/printer drivers support this in the driver, FinePrint works with all printers.)

How many times have you seen hundreds of sheets of paper (color ink, even) sitting printed in your company's copy room/office that one sided. Seriously, makes my heart ache. With this thing you can print double sided easily and do booklets as well.

Now that I'm all about the 43 Folders, I'm actually printing more, but with FinePrint I'm using less paper. It makes filing really easy.

Other things about FinePrint that make me happy:

  • You can also print to the Clipboard. Ya, read that twice.
  • Adjust the margins AFTER the fact.
  • Create multiple "FinePrinters" that each have their own settings. One for 2 up, one for 8 up, etc.
  • You can delete pages from Print Jobs after the fact.
  • It can save print jobs and replay them like Tivo for Printers.
  • Convert color to black or remove all graphics for fast web page printing.
  • Build custom watermarks and letterhead that is automatically added to your printed output.

Well, I'm gushing, but I'm digging it.

Now playing: Counting Crows - Einstein On the Beach (For an Eggman)

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Tuesday, 12 July 2005 11:32:31 UTC
I checked out FinePrint, as I do most of your tool recommendations, and found it to do its intended job very nicely.

However, I'm curious if you have ever found a way to print a web page that doesn't result in truncated text. For instance, if I print your blog from IE or FireFox (even with page scaling), I lose text along the right edge because of clipping.

This has always been the achilles heel of the web browser (and the reason why we see "PRINTER FRIENDLY" versions of pages), and IMHO, the first browser to get it right will win the browser war. I mean, I can already print a wide Excel spreadsheet on one page without clipping--why can't I do the same for a web page if I wanted to?
Tuesday, 12 July 2005 11:36:22 UTC
Scott,

I can understand your fascination for such software as a techie myself, but you have to consider the basic purpose of printing, for say, your grandmother.

When you "print", it comes on "paper". What is the point of printing to a clipboard?
And, people who print, do so in many instances because they donot feel comfortable reading pixels. And if such people had to read 4 fine-printed pages on one sheet, that defeats the purpose.

This s/w is good as an add-on, but I'd much rather not see this as a part of the default OS. Printing for a non-computer guy should be as simple as CTRL_P -- Poof pixels to paper !! That is how it should be, no more, no less.

Other than that, for myself, I like FinePrint a lot.

_ SM
Tuesday, 12 July 2005 16:35:40 UTC
JasonF - looks like I've got problems with my printer only stylesheet. That's all me. I'll take a look.

Sahil - Kind of negative, eh? :)
Tuesday, 12 July 2005 17:28:00 UTC
Scott: I was only using your site as an example--not saying that I regularly need to print your blog. ;-) The bigger point was that there are all sorts of malformed web applications out there, and being able to print a webpage reasonably close to what you see on the screen without clipping is going to be one heck of a killer app[let], and this is where my original question comes from. (My personal case-in-point is a particular web-based expense reporting system that we use is a PIA to get a printed report from).
Tuesday, 12 July 2005 17:37:36 UTC
I found this tool from IE blog the other day, and it works magically to print the whole web page to fit into one page. Check this out...

http://www.visiontech.ltd.uk/software/#IEPrint, named "Internet Explorer Fitted-Width Printing"
Tuesday, 12 July 2005 18:39:09 UTC
We used FinePrint to print our product manuals (http://www.acscontrol.com) 2-up so that we could cut them in half and save paper. Now we no longer send printed manuals, its cheaper to send a CD with all of our product manuals on it as PDFs.
Tuesday, 12 July 2005 22:28:19 UTC
Kent: YES! That did work for me (and it's the first tool that I've found that does that). Thanks!

Now if only that was built into IE as an option instead of being a separate toolbar..... (the IE team reads here, right???)
JasonF
Thursday, 14 July 2005 11:03:47 UTC
Wrap this up with the open source PDFCreator printer driver and it's like butter.

Hal
http://hal.lco.net
Friday, 15 July 2005 15:09:59 UTC
Scott,

Not negative :), I think it is great for techies. I just don't think an average user out there, who wants iPod friendliness would really like FinePrint as a part of the OS. Thats all !! :)

- SM
Tuesday, 19 July 2005 11:30:50 UTC
JasonF - You can solve the truncation problem with FinePrint too. In Page Setup of the browser, just select a large paper size like 11x17. FinePrint will take care of scaling the output to fit on 8.5x11. Works great. FinePrint definitely rocks.
Clyde Hammond
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.