XPS, the Microsoft alternative to PDF

You can print a document on paper to keep. But that's completely old-fashioned. Nowadays, from a practical and environmental point of view, you naturally work as paperless as possible. Then print 'virtual' to an XPS file, a kind of PDF.

Windows has had a 'virtual' printer in the form of an XPS printer since version 7. With this you can make a digital print in no time from any program that supports the possibility of printing. The result in the form of an .oxps file can be opened in all kinds of readers. Including Microsoft's own viewer. If the method sounds familiar to you, then that may be correct. XPS is very similar to PDF, but uses XML under the hood. Like PDF, XPS is vector-based and system independent. XPS is also an open file format, so you don't have to worry about it being unreadable in ten years. However, any self-respecting system - mobile or desktop - can handle PDF from home (or at least can show it). This is much less the case with XPS. If you are going to use it, use it mainly for your own archive. E-mailing an XPS file will undoubtedly raise questions over and over again. Still fun to experiment with.

Create your own XPS

As an example, let's take an article from Computer!Total ver-XPS. Start your browser and browse to a page you find interesting enough to save. Click on Print in the appropriate menu of your browser. In Firefox, for example, you can find that option by clicking the button with the three lines at the top right. Then click Print and then in the opened preview window on the button Print. In the Print after Name dialog box, choose the Microsoft XPS Document Writer. If you want it, you can click the button Characteristics and then Advanced some small things to fine-tune, including the strength of jpg compression. click on OK to create the XPS file. Browse to a folder where you want to save the file and give it a name. By default, the OpenXPS document (*.oxps) is selected as the file format. That's fine, unless you definitely want to open the generated document on a Windows 7 computer. In that case, choose the older XPS document as the file format. click on Save and the file is saved. click on Close to close the preview window.

To open

To view the generated .oxps file, simply double click on it. By default, it opens in the viewer included with Windows 10. If you have another viewer on your system that is linked to the file format, it will open there. As you can see, the layout of the XPS document is exactly the same as it would be on a paper printout. You can always print the XPS on paper in the future if you wish. One last tip: some web pages become a mess when you start printing them. A PDF - which now uses a virtual printer driver to generate it - then becomes the same mess. If you're lucky, reading mode is available for such a transverse page. click the button in the form of a sheet of paper to the far right of the web address in the address bar of - in this example - Firefox. You will now often see a neat but simple representation of the page. It can be printed in the same format, and can therefore also be converted to XPS. When you're done, click the reading view button again, after which the original formatting returns.

And oh yes: if you prefer to switch to PDFs later, XPS files are easy to convert. Open the XPS and print it from the viewer, this time choosing as the printer using the Microsoft Print to PDF virtual printer.

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