Printer Driver

A printer driver is a software program that understands how to communicate with printers and plotters. Printer drivers translate the information a user sends from the computer into commands that the printer understands. Various drivers must be installed on the print server to support different hardware and operating systems. For example, an administrator running Windows 2000 Server who shares a printer with clients running Windows 95 and Windows 98 might want to install the appropriate drivers so the users won't be prompted to install the missing drivers.

The printer driver sends the printer-setting information, including the specifications needed to produce each character of the document, to the GDI. It also transmits helper services or utilities required to make the output print correctly.

Windows 2000 provides three generic printer drivers: Universal (Unidriver), PostScript and HP-GL/2 plotter.

Universal Printer Driver (Unidriver)

The Unidriver is also called the raster driver because it supports raster graphics printing and is compatible with most types of printers. Each printer vendor provides a device-specific data file.

This driver supports color printing at various depths (4 bits per pixel (bpp), 8 bpp, 24 bpp), scalable TrueType and OpenType fonts, device fonts (including double-byte), grayscale printing, font substitution, run length encoding (RLE), Tag Image File Format (TIFF) version 4.0, and Delta Row Compression (DRC). It also has an extension interface that allows printer manufacturers to customize the driver for specific models.

The Unidriver contains the following component files:

  • Unidrv.dll is the printer graphics driver file for printer languages based on raster (bitmap) images, including Printer Control Language (PCL), and most inkjet and dot-matrix printer languages.

  • Unidrvui.dll is the configuration file. It displays the user interface for Unidrv.dll.

  • Raster minidriver (x.gpd) is the data file, also called characterization file. The file name depends on the printer or printer family. For more information, see the documentation included with your printer.

PostScript Printer Driver

The Windows 2000 PostScript driver uses Adobe version 4.3–compatible PostScript printer description (PPD) files. This driver automatically supports key features, including binary transfer compression, resolution, and paper source, for printers reporting as PostScript levels 1, 2, and 3. Its output is device independent because it is fully compliant with Document Structuring Convention (DSC) 3.0.

This driver contains the following component files:

  • Pscript5.dll is the driver file.

  • Ps5ui.dll is the configuration file. It displays the user interface for the driver file, reports device capabilities to applications, and handles DevMode settings. Ps5ui.dll also allows you to enable TrueType and OpenType font substitution and image color matching, and to determine whether color matching needs to be done on the host or on the printer.

  • X.ppd is the data file, also called the characterization file. PPD files are the only printer driver files that are generally binary-compatible across processors and platforms.

HP-GL/2 Plotter Driver

The Windows 2000 plotter driver supports diverse plotters that use the HP-GL/2 language but does not support HP-GL. This driver's output requires a plotting device that can process all of the enhancements built into the HP-GL/2 language.

This driver contains the following component files:

  • Plotter.dll is the driver file.

  • Plotui.dll is the configuration file. It displays the user interface for Plotter.dll.

  • X.pcd is the data file.

If Microsoft does not supply a driver for your printer...
... ask the device manufacturer for compatibility settings. To ensure quality, use drivers that have passed Windows Hardware Quality Labs (WHQL) tests. Microsoft Product Support Services does not support systems with unapproved drivers. For information, see the WHQL link on the Web Resources page at
You can also e-mail to suggest support for a driver or feature. Please include the following information in your request: requester's name, business name, requester's contact information (phone number or e-mail address), printer manufacturer, printer model, and nature of request (feature request or driver request). This does not guarantee that Microsoft will write a driver for your printer.