Sunday, July 16, 2006

Firefox does not work with some printers

I have eventually fixed up the no printing problem of my Firefox today. The Firefox had not worked with some printer drivers on my computer for a few months. I tried to simply reinstall the suspected driver and also consulted with other people online at Firefox's newsgroup, but not helped much to this strange problem. Finally I had to spend a bit more time getting rid of it thoroughly.


Firefox does not work with the following printer drivers on my tablet computer though it works well with another printer driver, PrimoPDF - a free virtual printer driver to create PDF files.
  1. Journal Note Writer
  2. Microsoft Fax Printer
  3. Microsoft Office Document Image Writer
It is not a fault of above virtual printer drivers provided by Microsoft because all of them can work smoothly with any other applications installed on the notebook, except this Firefox. The PrimoPDF driver works fine with all applications including the Firefox.

When you print a web page for the first time after starting up Firefox, the File/Print (Ctrl+P) dialogue box may appear, so all the available printers on the system can be chosen as the output device. After choosing one of the above listed printer drivers, their Save As window may appear, allow you select the file to be printed in a relevant file format, such .JNT (Windows Journal File) or .MDI (Office Document Image File). Then the printer's program quits or just hangs on the screen. Certainly, no output file can be generated.

When you print a web page for the second time after then, choosing File/Print from Firefox's menu only leads to a message box saying "Print Error". You can no longer print even with PrimoPDF. After restarting Firefox, you can print only with PrimoPDF , but not others.

  1. Adjust some possibly related settings of those Microsoft printer drivers, no effect.
  2. Uninstall and reinstall PrimoPDF, all do not help.
  3. Reinstall Firefox, no help.
  4. Backup Firefox's profile data under Documents and Settings folder.
  5. Uninstall Firefox, clean up all its programs and data left, reinstall Firefox, it works!
  6. Backup the new Firefox's profile data, cleanup the new profile folder.
  7. Copy old backup files back to the newly named profile folder, no print again!
  8. Restore the new Firefox's profile data.
  9. Copy only the followings sub-folders of old profile to the new folder, it works again!

    • bookmarkbackups
    • chrome
    • extensions
    • forecastfox
    • gm_scripts
    • searchplugins

  10. Search files that contain "print" in the root folder of old Firefox's profile, 3 files found:

    • bookmarks.html (not related)
    • cookies.txt (not related)
    • prefs.js (suspected!)


  11. Edit the old "prefs.js" file, remove all the saved printing preferences.
  12. Copy all old backup files back to the new profile folder again, the it works!

Mistakenly saved printer preferences in Prefs.js file may cause Firefox to send incompatible parameters to the relevant printer driver and even cause the driver to terminate itself. And therefore, since probably Firefox can not obtain the return value from the printer driver, it keeps the "unknown" status and simply prompts "Print error" while requested to print again.


This ought to be a bug, at least a defect, of current version of Firefox. I will send a bug report to the dev team of Firefox later.


Some default installation folders of Firefox on Windows XP:
  • Program Files: %ProgramFiles%\Mozilla Firefox
  • Default New Profile: %ProgramFiles%\Mozilla Firefox\defaults\profile
  • User Profile: %UserProfile%\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\xxxxxxxx.default
  • User Extensions: %UserProfile%\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\xxxxxxxx.default\extensions
  • User Cache: %UserProfile%\Local Settings\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\xxxxxxxx.default\Cache
(where "xxxxxxxx" is a random string described in the "profiles.ini" file in its grandparent folder.
  • Global Extensions: %ProgramFiles%\Mozilla Firefox\extensions

Acer TravelMate C110 Tablet Computer
Intel Pentium M Processor ULV 753/1.2GHz, 2048 MB Memory, 60 GB Hard Disk
Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 Version 2002 SP2, US English
Firefox for Windows, US English
Internet Explorer 6.0.2900.2180.xpsp.051011-1528


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