Printing from Multiple IEs

‘Multiple IEs’ (easy installer here, interesting back story here) is pretty widely used for running (and therefore testing in) multiple versions of Internet Explorer these days. It’s really an essential tool for anyone supporting back versions of the browser.

Recently I came upon a need to test printable versions for a calendar app. After quite a bit of css things were looking really nice and shiny in Firefox. An hour of tweaking later, I was looking good in FF and IE7. When I gave it a try in IE6… no dice. “Print Preview” showed me a blank page. I couldn’t imagine what the heck I had in there to cause it, so I tried just printing it – IE6 basically flipped me off and just gave me a js error… ok, something was wrong. A quick try at printing the Google frontpage came up with the same results, assuaging my fear that I had written a magically blank page in the eyes of IE6 but sending me on the hunt for a fix.

I found a bit about exposing a bug to get printing going. That trick is that bookmarking also doesn’t work… in a good way (for us).

  1. Visit the page you want to print
  2. Bookmark it
  3. Visit the bookmark
  4. The print dialog magically pops up and you can print the page.

That works fine for Google’s frontpage but not so well for my page which is hidden behind authentication and other goodies.  After some hacking around for a good solution, I ended settling on the low tech route.

  1. Visit the page in Firefox
  2. Do a “Save Page As” and set the format to “Web Page, complete” – this’ll save a static version of the current html (and friends) locally for you
  3. Load that locally stored file in IE.
  4. Bookmark
  5. Visit the bookmark
  6. Viola

Not the smoothest possible process, but if you’ve only got a few protected pages to test… it may be better than installing and uninstalling various versions.

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4 Comments

Filed under browser

4 responses to “Printing from Multiple IEs

  1. Hi,

    did you find any differences in the print preview rendering between IE6 and IE7 on a single machine? As noted at the end of my post (you’re referring to), I suspect that print preview isn’t actually that of IE6, but that of IE7. I suspect so because the web-site I was trying to make appear and print the same in IE 6&7, actually did look absolutely the same in print preview for both IEs, without any effort on my side.

    What about your case?

  2. I’m trying to think back here… I was doing quite a bit of tweaking (for all of the browsers) throughout the process and don’t remember specifically seeing (or not) differences between the two…

    I did take it through to actually printing (not just previewing) but it sounds like you’re thinking that IE7 would be (potentially) picking up that duty as well?

  3. if the print preview is in fact generated by IE7 instead of IE6, then I do think that printing is also handled by IE7. I never checked, though.

  4. Very informative post. I’ve found your blog via Google and I’m really glad about the information you provide in your articles. Btw your sites layout is really messed up on the Kmelon browser. Would be great if you could fix that. Anyhow keep up the good work!

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