Setting up
Custom Tractor-Feed Printers in Windows
by John L. Creed of pcExpressWay Consulting — May 16, 2002

SOME OF US still use tractor feed printers for special custom forms such as labels, cards, etc. In DOS based programs this was never an end-user problem because the programmer had absolute control over this situation.

In DOS to Windows program conversions, I have discovered that:

The following is how to set up printers in the known Windows Operating Systems through XP.

Windows 9x
Click the Start button then Settings, then Printers.

Click the icon that says Add new printer. Since most of these tractor-feed printers are not Plug ’n Play, you will have to select your brand from the pane on the left, and then the model on the right. Now click Next, and give this printer a unique name, like “CustomPrinter”. And continue on to save the printer.

Now find this new printer and right-click on it and select Properties. Find the Paper tab and then under the Paper size, scroll to the far right and double-click on Custom.
You now have a dialog like this.
This is where you set the custom size. The most important part is the length.

We now have to decide how wide and tall to make this paper. Since we are doing 3 x 8.5 tickets, we will set the length to the equivalent of 3 inches and the width to the equivalent of 8.5 inches. Note the width doesn’t really matter so long as it is at least as wide as the paper. If we divide 3 by .01 we get 300 and if we divide 8.5 by .01 we get 850. So we set the value of width to 850 and the value of length to 300. Now click OK, then Apply.

You are now set up from the user end. The dBASE programmer will set this up in his/her print program to recognize this specific printer.

It is best for the programmer to design the report in the latest OS such as Windows 2000 and then make sure it is compatible with older versions such as Windows 98. This way, should your customer upgrade or get a new computer, all they will have to do is follow the next set or rules for custom printers. Note that this programmer could not get the print program to recognize the custom settings, as there were 3 steps for me to do, since I had already coded it for win98.

The following is adapted from an article by Frank Polan that I found while searching the web for help on this topic. I have used his words and added the screen images to aid in following the procedure.

For Win2K/XP

From the web which states the following:

Q. My labels on my Windows 2000 or Windows XP machine take up a whole page, how do I fix it?
The paper size for printers under Windows 2000 and Windows XP is set up entirely different from Windows 95/98 and ME machines. To set the custom paper size in Windows 2000/XP, go into the Printer Control Panel and click on File, and then Server Properties.
Once in the server properties, check the Create a New Form checkbox and call it “IMC Label” in the Form Description entryfield. Specify the label size that your department is using.
Once the label has been created, you need to go into the label printer's properties and specify which printer form you want to print to. This is done in two places. The first place is set by clicking on the Printing Preferences button.
Then click on the Advanced button. Specify the IMC Label here.
You also have to specify the paper to use on the Device Settings tab.
Now once this is done, the programmer must go back to their report and point the printer to these settings. In dBASE, I brought up my report in the Designer and then from the Inspector I found the printer and inspected its properties.

Click the wrench tool next to the printername property to invoke the following dialog:

It is important to make sure you set the paper size as described above.

The author would like to thank Robert W. Newman and Barbara Coultry, his proofreaders, for the improvements they brought to this text.