GS(1) Ghostscript GS(1)
gs - Ghostscript (PostScript and PDF language interpreter and pre-
gs [ options ] [ files ] ... (Unix, VMS)
gswin32 [ options ] [ files ] ... (MS Windows)
gswin32c [ options ] [ files ] ... (MS Windows)
gs386 [ options ] [ files ] ... (DOS for PC)
gsos2 [ options ] [ files ] ... (OS/2)
The gs (gswin32, gswin32c, gs386, gsos2) command invokes Ghostscript,
an interpreter of Adobe Systems’ PostScript(tm) and Portable Document
Format (PDF) languages. gs reads "files" in sequence and executes them
as Ghostscript programs. After doing this, it reads further input from
the standard input stream (normally the keyboard), interpreting each
line separately. The interpreter quits gracefully when it encounters
the "quit" command (either in a file or from the keyboard), at end-of-
file, or at an interrupt signal (such as Control-C at the keyboard).
The interpreter recognizes several switches described below, which may
appear anywhere in the command line and apply to all files thereafter.
Invoking Ghostscript with the -h or -? switch produces a message which
shows several useful switches, all the devices known to that exe-
cutable, and the search path for fonts; on Unix it also shows the loca-
tion of detailed documentation.
Ghostscript may be built able to use many different output devices. To
see which devices your executable can use, run "gs -h". Unless you
specify a particular device, Ghostscript normally opens the first one
of those and directs output to it, so if the first one in the list is
the one you want to use, just issue the command
You can also check the set of available devices from within
Ghostscript: invoke Ghostscript and type
but the first device on the resulting list may not be the default
device you determine with "gs -h". To specify "AbcXyz" as the initial
output device, include the switch
For example, for output to an Epson printer you might use the command
gs -sDEVICE=epson myfile.ps
The "-sDEVICE=" switch must precede the first mention of a file to
print, and only the switch’s first use has any effect. Alternatively,
in Ghostscript you can type
All output then goes to the printer until you select another device
with the "selectdevice" procedure in the PostScript program stream, for
Finally, you can specify a default device in the environment variable
GS_DEVICE. The order of precedence for these alternatives from highest
to lowest (Ghostscript uses the device defined highest in the list) is:
(first device in build list)
Some printers can print at different resolutions (densities). To spec-
ify the resolution on such a printer, use the "-r" switch:
gs -sDEVICE=<device> -r<xres>x<yres>
For example, on a 9-pin Epson-compatible printer, you get the lowest-
density (fastest) mode with
gs -sDEVICE=epson -r60x72
and the highest-density (best output quality) mode with
gs -sDEVICE=epson -r240x72.
If you select a printer as the output device, Ghostscript also allows
you to choose where Ghostscript sends the output -- on Unix systems,
usually to a temporary file. To send the output to a file "foo.xyz",
use the switch
You might want to print each page separately. To do this, send the
output to a series of files "foo1.xyz, foo2.xyz, ..." using the "-sOut-
putFile=" switch with "%d" in a filename template:
Each resulting file receives one page of output, and the files are num-
bered in sequence. "%d" is a printf format specification; you can also
use a variant like "%02d".
On Unix systems you can also send output to a pipe. For example, to
pipe output to the "lpr" command (which, on many Unix systems, directs
it to a printer), use the switch
You can also send output to standard output for piping with the switch
In this case you must also use the -q switch, to prevent Ghostscript
from writing messages to standard output.
To select a specific paper size, use the command line switch
At this time, the known paper sizes, defined in the initialization file
PAPERSIZE X inches Y inches X cm Y cm
a0 33.0556 46.7778 83.9611 118.816
a1 23.3889 33.0556 59.4078 83.9611
a2 16.5278 23.3889 41.9806 59.4078
a3 11.6944 16.5278 29.7039 41.9806
a4 8.26389 11.6944 20.9903 29.7039
a5 5.84722 8.26389 14.8519 20.9903
a6 4.125 5.84722 10.4775 14.8519
a7 2.91667 4.125 7.40833 10.4775
a8 2.05556 2.91667 5.22111 7.40833
a9 1.45833 2.05556 3.70417 5.22111
a10 1.02778 1.45833 2.61056 3.70417
b0 39.3889 55.6667 100.048 141.393
b1 27.8333 39.3889 70.6967 100.048
b2 19.6944 27.8333 50.0239 70.6967
b3 13.9167 19.6944 35.3483 50.0239
b4 9.84722 13.9167 25.0119 35.3483
b5 6.95833 9.84722 17.6742 25.0119
archA 9 12 22.86 30.48
archB 12 18 30.48 45.72
archC 18 24 45.72 60.96
archD 24 36 60.96 91.44
archE 36 48 91.44 121.92
flsa 8.5 13 21.59 33.02
flse 8.5 13 21.59 33.02
halfletter 5.5 8.5 13.97 21.59
note 7.5 10 19.05 25.4
letter 8.5 11 21.59 27.94
legal 8.5 14 21.59 35.56
11x17 11 17 27.94 43.18
ledger 17 11 43.18 27.94
Note that the B paper sizes are ISO sizes: for information about using
JIS B sizes, see Use.htm.
Ghostscript can do many things other than print or view PostScript and
PDF files. For example, if you want to know the bounding box of a
PostScript (or EPS) file, Ghostscript provides a special "device" that
just prints out this information:
gs -sDEVICE=bbox myfile.ps
For example, using one of the example files distributed with
gs -sDEVICE=bbox golfer.ps
%%BoundingBox: 0 25 583 732
%%HiResBoundingBox: 0.808497 25.009496 582.994503 731.809445
When looking for the initialization files "gs_*.ps", the files related
to fonts, or the file for the "run" operator, Ghostscript first tries
to open the file with the name as given, using the current working
directory if no directory is specified. If this fails, and the file
name doesn’t specify an explicit directory or drive (for instance,
doesn’t contain "/" on Unix systems or "\" on DOS systems), Ghostscript
tries directories in this order:
1. the directories specified by the -I switches in the command line
(see below), if any;
2. the directories specified by the GS_LIB environment variable, if
3. the directories specified by the GS_LIB_DEFAULT macro in the
Ghostscript makefile when the executable was built. When gs is
built on Unix, GS_LIB_DEFAULT is usually
where "#.##" represents the Ghostscript version number.
Each of these (GS_LIB_DEFAULT, GS_LIB, and -I parameter) may be either
a single directory or a list of directories separated by ":".
Ghostscript looks for the following resources under the program name
The border width in pixels (default = 1).
The name of the border color (default = black).
The window size and placement, WxH+X+Y (default is NULL).
The number of x pixels per inch (default is computed from
WidthOfScreen and WidthMMOfScreen).
The number of y pixels per inch (default is computed from
HeightOfScreen and HeightMMOfScreen).
Determines whether backing store is to be used for saving dis-
play window (default = true).
See the usage document for a more complete list of resources. To set
these resources on Unix, put them in a file such as "~/.Xresources" in
the following form:
Then merge these resources into the X server’s resource database:
% xrdb -merge ~/.Xresources
-- filename arg1 ...
Takes the next argument as a file name as usual, but takes all
remaining arguments (even if they have the syntactic form of
switches) and defines the name "ARGUMENTS" in "userdict" (not
"systemdict") as an array of those strings, before running the
file. When Ghostscript finishes executing the file, it exits
back to the shell.
Define a name in "systemdict" with the given definition. The
token must be exactly one token (as defined by the "token"
operator) and may contain no whitespace.
-dname Define a name in "systemdict" with value=null.
Define a name in "systemdict" with a given string as value.
This is different from -d. For example, -dname=35 is equivalent
to the program fragment
/name 35 def
whereas -sname=35 is equivalent to
/name (35) def
-q Quiet startup: suppress normal startup messages, and also do the
equivalent of -dQUIET.
Equivalent to -dDEVICEWIDTH=number1 and -dDEVICEHEIGHT=number2.
This is for the benefit of devices (such as X11 windows) that
require (or allow) width and height to be specified.
Equivalent to -dDEVICEXRESOLUTION=number1 and -dDEVICEYRESOLU-
TION=number2. This is for the benefit of devices such as print-
ers that support multiple X and Y resolutions. If only one num-
ber is given, it is used for both X and Y resolutions.
Adds the designated list of directories at the head of the
search path for library files.
- This is not really a switch, but indicates to Ghostscript that
standard input is coming from a file or a pipe and not interac-
tively from the command line. Ghostscript reads from standard
input until it reaches end-of-file, executing it like any other
file, and then continues with processing the command line. When
the command line has been entirely processed, Ghostscript exits
rather than going into its interactive mode.
Note that the normal initialization file "gs_init.ps" makes "system-
dict" read-only, so the values of names defined with -D, -d, -S, or -s
cannot be changed (although, of course, they can be superseded by defi-
nitions in "userdict" or other dictionaries.)
Disables the "deletefile" and "renamefile" operators and the
ability to open files in any mode other than read-only. This is
desirable for spoolers or any other environments where a mali-
cious or badly written PostScript program must be prevented from
changing important files.
Causes Ghostscript to exit after processing all files named on
the command line, rather than prompting for further PostScript
Disables the prompt and pause at the end of each page. This may
be desirable in converting documents or for applications where
another program is driving Ghostscript.
Selects an alternate initial output device, as described above.
Selects an alternate output file (or pipe) for the initial out-
put device, as described above.
Suppresses the normal initialization of the output device. This
may be useful when debugging.
Disables character caching. Useful only for debugging.
Disables the "bind" operator. Useful only for debugging.
Disables the use of fonts supplied by the underlying platform
(for instance X Windows). This may be needed if the platform
fonts look undesirably different from the scalable fonts.
Causes individual character outlines to be loaded from the disk
the first time they are encountered. (Normally Ghostscript loads
all the character outlines when it loads a font.) This may allow
loading more fonts into RAM, at the expense of slower rendering.
Leaves "systemdict" writable. This is necessary when running
special utility programs such as font2c and pcharstr, which must
bypass normal PostScript access protection.
The locations of many Ghostscript run-time files are compiled into the
executable when it is built. On Unix these are typically based in
/usr/local, but this may be different on your system. Under DOS they
are typically based in C:\GS, but may be elsewhere, especially if you
install Ghostscript with GSview. Run "gs -h" to find the location of
Ghostscript documentation on your system, from which you can get more
Startup files, utilities, and basic font definitions
More font definitions
Ghostscript demonstration files
Diverse document files
String of options to be processed before the command line
Used to specify an output device
Path names used to search for fonts
GS_LIB Path names for initialization files and fonts
TEMP Where temporary files are made
The various Ghostscript document files (above), especially Use.htm.
See the Usenet news group comp.lang.postscript.
This document was last revised for Ghostscript version 7.07.
L. Peter Deutsch <email@example.com> is the principal author of
Ghostscript. Russell J. Lang <firstname.lastname@example.org> is the author of most
of the MS Windows code in Ghostscript.
7.07 17 May 2003 GS(1)
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