Fixed-width printing in IE6

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve had the time (and I suppose inclination) to update things. ¬†What with one thing after another, I’ve either been too busy or too tired to post.

But it’s been a moderately quiet day – and I feel like putting something up ūüôā

I’ll save other posts for later (posts that I need to upload pictures for) and will just write a little tech-related blurb. ¬†Probably not useful for the majority of folks, but something I can use for future reference.

In the office we have a web-based vendor application that is fairly ancient. ¬†The hardware itself is not too terribly antiquated, and the OS is running WinXP, but the client application requires requires either Netscape 4.x or IE6(!). ¬†This system has been in place since before I started working here about 4 years ago, and hasn’t really needed much in terms of maintenance. ¬†However, a couple of weeks ago, the hard drive crapped out – from the sound of things I’d guess that the actuator arm was either broken or stuck as it would give a few loud clicks and then putter out.

We replaced the computer, downgraded to IE6 and all seemed well until the users tried to print – turned out that most of the pages were just a few millimeters too wide and would get clipped off during the printing. ¬†So I started troubleshooting…

Initially I thought that it was an issue with the printer driver (we also installed a new printer).  However, I soon noticed that not all pages were clipped off when printing, only some with a few extra characters in a cell.

Turns out that IE7 and above have an auto-fit feature, but not IE6.  When I spoke with the users, I found that they had previously used Netscape which I assume had a method for adjusting page size.

So… I started looking for older versions of Netscape. ¬†I did find them at the old Netscape archive, but was unable to export a necessary security certificate from IE6 to that version of Netscape. ¬†I considered other workarounds like saving the webpage to USB drive and bringing that to a computer with IE7 – which worked, but was not particularly handy. ¬†I also tried saving in different formats and seeing if those would print any differently (it didn’t). ¬†It was an annoying issue – something so minor, but aggravating!

Finally after Googling for IE6 shrink-to-fit alternatives (I quickly found that I was not the only one with this problem!), I came across THIS site.

Adrian’s fix requires the installation of an ActiveX control which then creates a new printer icon that adjusts the page you’re trying to print to the width of the paper. ¬†I don’t pretend to understand exactly how it works, but I do know that it worked perfectly!

It is pretty awesome that a bit of software created almost 7 years ago is still so handy – and best of all FREE!

One comment

  • May 29, 2010 - 09:40 | Permalink

    Reading this reinforces my own belief of what a useful, good tool the internet can be. Too bad there are dorks out there who abuse something that can do so much good.
    Bravo to you for finding a solution and for Adrian for posting.
    Looking forward to your eventual updates on other topics (with pics)…but then who am I to talk…my site is woefully out of date ūüôā

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