Part 4: Getting printer driver details
More Information Needed?
In the feedback
section of this month's issue, Carol Baxter asked "It would be really
useful to know how to capture the printer driver into a variable in word. I
work for a large firm and all our network printers are called lp(then a number)
so the active printer command will not tell me the name of the printer eg HP
Laserjet 4. We have macros for printing."
Carolthis article is for you! (I hope that others will
find it useful as well.)
Printer Information Available
The code provided with this article will allow you to get the following information
about a printer.
- ServerNamethe name of the printer server it is attached to
- ShareNameif the printer is shared, the share name as
broadcast to the network
- PortNamethe name of the port the printer is connected to
- DriverNamethe name of the printer driver
- Commentany comments that are listed for the printer in the
Printer Properties dialog
- Locationthe location as given in the Printer Properties
- SepFilethe name of the file that defines the separator page
for the printer (is an empty string if no separator file is defined)
- PrintProcessorthe name of the print processor for the printer
- Datatypethe format in which the printer files are spooled.
- Parametersany parameters of the print processor command
- Statusthe current status of the printer, e.g. "Ready",
- Jobsthe number of print jobs currently in the queue for the
The DriverName is what Carol is after, but the other information might also
How to Use the Code
The code listed at the end of the article has a single routine, called GetPrinterDetails.
It returns a user-defined type including all of the parameters I have described
above. To find out the driver name of the current printer is as simple as this:
MsgBox "Driver name is " & _
If you want to get several parameters in one go (to reduce the time spent making
calls to the routine) and then use them later in your code, you can do something
Dim pInfo as PrinterInfo
pInfo = GetPrinterDetails
MsgBox "Port name is " & pInfo.PortName
MsgBox "Printer status is " & pInfo.Status
Also, if you want to get the printer details for a printer other than the current
printer, then you can do so, by including the printer name, like this:
MsgBox "HP DeskJet 540 status " & _
GetPrinterDetails("HP DeskJet 540").Status
By the way, if you want to get a full list of the printers available on your
system, this article by Astrid Zeelenberg tells you how.
Getting Names of Available Printers
That article includes a routine that returns an array of the available printers.
Any one of the items in that array can be used by the GetPrinterDetails routine.
Why Use the Code?
There are a number of possible reasons
- Carol's reason - you need to know the current printer type so that you can
decide which printer tray to use for printing.
- You have several printers available, and want to check their status before
printing - no point in printing to a printer that is paused or offline.
- You want to distribute print jobs among a number of printers, and want to
find out which one is least heavily loaded.
An example of the second reason might work like this...
Suppose you have three printers (called Printer 1, Printer 2 and Printer 3)
that you could use for printing the current job, and you want to be sure that
you print to a printer that is ready, or will be reasonably soon. The following
code could be used.
Dim PrinterList as Variant
Dim i as Long
Dim pInfo as PrinterInfo
PrinterList = Array("Printer 1", "Printer 2", "Printer 3")
For i = LBound(PrinterList) to UBound(PrinterList)
pInfo = GetPrinterInfo(PrinterList(i))
Select Case pInfo.Status
Case "Ready", "Printing", "Processing Job", "Power Save Mode"
ActivePrinter = PrinterList(i)
MsgBox "Job printed to " & PrinterList(i)
If i > UBound(PrinterList) Then
MsgBox "No printers are available at present"
This code does checks each printer in turn, and if the status indicates that
the printer is OK, it prints the job there and tells the user where to find
the printout. Otherwise, it goes on to the next printer on the list. If no printers
are available, it tells the user so.
Setting the ActivePrinter in Excel
I mainly do Word VBA, but I like to keep aware of uses for my code in the other
Office applications. In this case, there is a particular use in Excel.
In Word, you can use just the printer name to set the ActivePrinter, even though
the name doesn't include the port name. So something like this in Word will
successfully change the printer.
ActivePrinter = "HP LaserJet 5Si"
If you try that code in Excel, you will get an error, because Excel must have
the port name in the string that defines the printer. (Why this is needed by
Excel and not Word is one of the mysteries of life!) This can be a bit of a
nuisance if you have used Astrid's article (see above) to get a list of the
available printers, as you can't then use it in Excel to set the printer. But
with this routine, you can! Suppose the name of the printer you want is loaded
into the variable NewPrinter. To change the printer in Excel, the following
line of code will work fine.
ActivePrinter = NewPrinter & " on " & _
Main Code for the Article
The following code should be pasted into a separate module.
Important Note! Same warning as usual. Unless you are confident you
know what you are doing, don't alter this code, just use it. Bugs in Windows
API code don't just stop a macro, they can bring down Word or even Windows.
' Win32 API declares
Private Declare Function OpenPrinter Lib "winspool.drv" _
Alias "OpenPrinterA" (ByVal pPrinterName As String, _
phPrn As Long, pDefault As Any) As Long
Private Declare Function ClosePrinter Lib "winspool.drv" _
(ByVal hPrn As Long) As Long
Private Declare Function GetPrinter Lib "winspool.drv" _
Alias "GetPrinterA" (ByVal hPrinter As Long, _
ByVal Level As Long, pPrinter As Any, _
ByVal cbBuf As Long, pcbNeeded As Long) As Long
Private Declare Function SetPrinter Lib "winspool.drv" _
Alias "SetPrinterA" (ByVal hPrinter As Long, _
ByVal Level As Long, pPrinter As Any, _
ByVal Command As Long) As Long
Private Declare Sub CopyMemory Lib "kernel32" _
Alias "RtlMoveMemory" (Destination As Any, _
Source As Any, ByVal Length As Long)
Private Declare Function lstrlenA Lib "kernel32" _
(ByVal lpString As Long) As Long
Private Declare Function FormatMessage Lib "kernel32" _
Alias "FormatMessageA" (ByVal dwFlags As Long, _
lpSource As Any, ByVal dwMessageId As Long, _
ByVal dwLanguageId As Long, ByVal lpBuffer As String, _
ByVal nSize As Long, Arguments As Long) As Long
' The data area passed to a system call is too small.
Private Const ERROR_INSUFFICIENT_BUFFER As Long = 122
' Printer status flags used with PRINTER_INFORMATION_2
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_READY As Long = &H0
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_PAUSED As Long = &H1
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_ERROR As Long = &H2
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_PENDING_DELETION As Long = &H4
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_PAPER_JAM As Long = &H8
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_PAPER_OUT As Long = &H10
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_MANUAL_FEED As Long = &H20
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_PAPER_PROBLEM As Long = &H40
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_OFFLINE As Long = &H80
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_IO_ACTIVE As Long = &H100
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_BUSY As Long = &H200
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_PRINTING As Long = &H400
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_OUTPUT_BIN_FULL As Long = &H800
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_NOT_AVAILABLE As Long = &H1000
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_WAITING As Long = &H2000
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_PROCESSING As Long = &H4000
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_INITIALIZING As Long = &H8000
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_WARMING_UP As Long = &H10000
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_TONER_LOW As Long = &H20000
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_NO_TONER As Long = &H40000
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_PAGE_PUNT As Long = &H80000
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_USER_INTERVENTION As Long = &H100000
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_OUT_OF_MEMORY As Long = &H200000
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_DOOR_OPEN As Long = &H400000
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_SERVER_UNKNOWN As Long = &H800000
Private Const PRINTER_STATUS_POWER_SAVE As Long = &H1000000
' Used to retrieve last API error text.
Private Const FORMAT_MESSAGE_FROM_SYSTEM As Long = &H1000
' VBA-friendly structure used to return the printer info.
Public Type PrinterInfo
ServerName As String
ShareName As String
PortName As String
DriverName As String
Comment As String
Location As String
SepFile As String
PrintProcessor As String
Datatype As String
Parameters As String
Status As String
Jobs As Long
' Structure used to obtain the data from Windows.
Private Type PRINTER_INFO_2
pServerName As Long
pPrinterName As Long
pShareName As Long
pPortName As Long
pDriverName As Long
pComment As Long
pLocation As Long
pDevMode As Long 'DEVMODE
pSepFile As Long
pPrintProcessor As Long
pDatatype As Long
pParameters As Long
pSecurityDescriptor As Long 'SECURITY_DESCRIPTOR
Attributes As Long
Priority As Long
DefaultPriority As Long
StartTime As Long
UntilTime As Long
Status As Long
cJobs As Long
AveragePPM As Long
Public Function GetPrinterDetails(Optional ByVal PrinterName As Variant) As PrinterInfo
Dim pi2 As PRINTER_INFO_2
Dim pi2_output As PrinterInfo
Dim hPrn As Long
Dim Buffer() As Byte
Dim BytesNeeded As Long
Dim BytesUsed As Long
Dim slash As Long
Dim DispName As String
Dim PrinterErrorCode As Long
Dim StatusCode As Long
'Use default printer if none specified
If IsMissing(PrinterName) Then
PrinterName = ActivePrinter
PrinterName = Left$(PrinterName, InStr(PrinterName, " on ") - 1)
' Get handle to printer.
Call OpenPrinter(PrinterName, hPrn, ByVal 0&)
If hPrn Then
' Call once to get proper buffer size.
Call GetPrinter(hPrn, 2, ByVal 0&, 0, BytesNeeded)
If Err.LastDllError = ERROR_INSUFFICIENT_BUFFER Then
' Size buffer and get printer data.
ReDim Buffer(0 To BytesNeeded - 1) As Byte
If GetPrinter(hPrn, 2, Buffer(0), BytesNeeded, BytesUsed) Then
' Fill local structure with data/pointers.
Call CopyMemory(pi2, Buffer(0), Len(pi2))
' Transfer string data to output structure.
pi2_output.ServerName = PointerToStringA(pi2.pServerName)
pi2_output.ShareName = PointerToStringA(pi2.pShareName)
pi2_output.PortName = PointerToStringA(pi2.pPortName)
pi2_output.DriverName = PointerToStringA(pi2.pDriverName)
pi2_output.Comment = PointerToStringA(pi2.pComment)
pi2_output.Location = PointerToStringA(pi2.pLocation)
pi2_output.SepFile = PointerToStringA(pi2.pSepFile)
pi2_output.PrintProcessor = PointerToStringA(pi2.pPrintProcessor)
pi2_output.Datatype = PointerToStringA(pi2.pDatatype)
pi2_output.Parameters = PointerToStringA(pi2.pParameters)
Call CopyMemory(StatusCode, Buffer(72), 4)
Call CopyMemory(pi2_output.Jobs, Buffer(76), 4)
PrinterErrorCode = 0 'clear error value
PrinterErrorCode = Err.LastDllError
pi2_output.Status = StatusText(StatusCode, PrinterErrorCode)
GetPrinterDetails = pi2_output
Private Function PointerToStringA(ByVal lpStringA As Long) As String
Dim Buffer() As Byte
Dim nLen As Long
If lpStringA Then
nLen = lstrlenA(ByVal lpStringA)
If nLen Then
ReDim Buffer(0 To (nLen - 1)) As Byte
CopyMemory Buffer(0), ByVal lpStringA, nLen
PointerToStringA = StrConv(Buffer, vbUnicode)
Private Function StatusText(StatusCode As Long, ErrorCode As Long) As String
If ErrorCode Then
StatusText = ApiErrorText(ErrorCode)
Select Case StatusCode
StatusText = "Ready"
StatusText = "Paused"
StatusText = "Error"
StatusText = "Deleting..."
StatusText = "Paper Jam"
StatusText = "Paper Out"
StatusText = "Manual Feed Required"
StatusText = "Paper Problem"
StatusText = "Offline"
StatusText = "Downloading Job"
StatusText = "Busy"
StatusText = "Printing"
StatusText = "Output Bill Full"
StatusText = "Not Available"
StatusText = "Waiting"
StatusText = "Processing Job"
StatusText = "Initializing"
StatusText = "Warming Up"
StatusText = "Toner Low"
StatusText = "Toner Out"
StatusText = "Page too Complex"
StatusText = "User Intervention Required"
StatusText = "Out of Memory"
StatusText = "Door Open"
StatusText = "Unable to connect"
StatusText = "Power Save Mode"
StatusText = Hex$(StatusCode)
Private Function ApiErrorText(ByVal ErrNum As Long) As String
Dim msg As String
Dim nRet As Long
msg = Space$(1024)
nRet = FormatMessage(FORMAT_MESSAGE_FROM_SYSTEM, ByVal 0&, ErrNum, 0&, msg, Len(msg), ByVal 0&)
If nRet Then
ApiErrorText = Left$(msg, nRet - 2) ' account for Cr/Lf
ApiErrorText = "Error (" & ErrNum & ") not defined."
I have provided a module which can be imported directly into your Word VBA project
which includes all the routines described in all three parts of this article.
to download it.
I'm a great one for never writing Windows API code myself from scratch if I
can avoid it. This month's article is no exception. The code here is adapted
(with permission) from a very extensive set of VB class modules for printer
information and control, written by Karl E. Peterson, VB/MVP.
There's far too much code in his samples to be able to do it justice here, but
you can see his original code at his site www.mvps.org/vb/.
To see his printer sample code, click the Samples link on the left of the page,
and then scroll down to the section PrnInfo.zip.
One thing I like about the samples on Karl's page is that he creates entire
modules and class modules. If you have Office 2000 or later, this usually means
you can import the code directly into your VBA project without modification,
and the code just works. There's no development quite so rapid as being able
to use somebody else's already tested and working code!
Note that you can't import forms (.frm modules) in this way because VB Forms
are quite different from VBA UserForms.