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man pages section 1: User Commands

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Updated: Wednesday, February 9, 2022

gs (1)


gs - viewer)


gs [ options ] [ files ] ... (Unix, VMS)
gswin32c [ options ] [ files ] ... (MS Windows)
gswin32 [ options ] [ files ] ... (MS Windows 3.1)
gsos2 [ options ] [ files ] ... (OS/2)


GS(1)                             Ghostscript                            GS(1)

       gs  -  Ghostscript  (PostScript  and  PDF language interpreter and pre-

       gs [ options ] [ files ] ... (Unix, VMS)
       gswin32c [ options ] [ files ] ... (MS Windows)
       gswin32 [ options ] [ files ] ... (MS Windows 3.1)
       gsos2 [ options ] [ files ] ... (OS/2)

       The gs (gswin32c,  gswin32,  gsos2)  command  invokes  Ghostscript,  an
       interpreter of Adobe Systems' PostScript(tm) and Portable Document For-
       mat (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 and output to an output device (may be a file or an X11 win-
       dow preview, see below).  The  interpreter  exits  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

       The  interpreter  recognizes  many  option  switches, some of which are
       described below. Please see the usage documentation for complete infor-
       mation.  Switches  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 executable, and the search path for  fonts;  on  Unix  it
       also shows the location of detailed documentation.

       Ghostscript  may be built to use many different output devices.  To see
       which devices your executable includes, run "gs -h".

       Unless you specify a particular device, Ghostscript normally opens  the
       first one of those and directs output to it.

       If  built  with  X11 support, often the default device is an X11 window
       (previewer), else ghostscript will typically use the  bbox  device  and
       print on stdout the dimension of the postscript file.

       So  if the first one in the list is the one you want to use, just issue
       the command

            gs myfile.ps

       You can also check the set of  available  devices  from  within  Ghost-
       script: invoke Ghostscript and type

            devicenames ==

       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.

       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:

       Some devices can support different resolutions (densities).  To specify
       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 and MS Windows systems you can also send output to a pipe.  For
       example, to pipe output to the "lpr" command (which, on many Unix  sys-
       tems, directs it to a printer), use the option


       Note  that the '%' characters need to be doubled on MS Windows to avoid
       mangling by the command interpreter.

       You can also send output to standard output:


       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


       for instance


       Most ISO and US paper sizes are recognized. See the usage documentation
       for a  full  list,  or  the  definitions  in  the  initialization  file

       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.

       For example, using one of the example  files  distributed  with  Ghost-

            gs -sDEVICE=bbox golfer.ps

       prints out

            %%BoundingBox: 0 25 583 732
            %%HiResBoundingBox: 0.808497 25.009496 582.994503 731.809445

       -- 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" oper-
              ator) 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

       -P     Makes Ghostscript to look first in  the  current  directory  for
              library  files.   By default, Ghostscript no longer looks in the
              current directory, unless, of course, the first explicitly  sup-
              plied directory is "." in -I.  See also the INITIALIZATION FILES
              section below, and bundled Use.htm for  detailed  discussion  on
              search paths and how Ghostcript finds files.

       -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 character caching.  Useful only for debugging.

              Disables the "bind" operator.  Useful only for debugging.

              Suppresses the normal initialization of the output device.  This
              may be useful when debugging.

              Disables the prompt and pause at the end of each page.  This may
              be  desirable  for applications where another program is driving

              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.

              Restricts file operations the job can perform. Now  the  default
              mode of operation.

              Leaves  "systemdict"  writable.   This is necessary when running
              special utility programs, but  is  strongly  discouraged  as  it
              bypasses normal Postscript security measures.

              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.

       The -dSAFER option restricts file system accesses to  those  files  and
       directories  allowed  by  the  relevant  environment variables (such as
       GS_LIB)  or  by  the  command  line  parameters   (see   https://ghost-
       script.com/doc/current/Use.htm for details).

       SAFER mode is now the default mode of operation. Thus when running pro-
       grams that need to open files or set restricted parameters  you  should
       pass the -dNOSAFER command line option or its synonym -dDELAYSAFER.

       Running  with  NOSAFER/DELAYSAFER  (as  the  same suggests) loosens the
       security and is thus recommended ONLY for debugging  or  in  VERY  con-
       trolled  workflows,  and  strongly NOT recommended in any other circum-

       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

       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 MS Windows 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 Ghost-
           script makefile when the executable was built.  When gs is built on
           Unix,   GS_LIB_DEFAULT    is    usually    "/usr/local/share/ghost-
           script/#.##:/usr/local/share/ghostscript/fonts" where "#.##" repre-
           sents 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 ":".

              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

       Ghostscript, or more properly the X11 display  device,  looks  for  the
       following resources under the program name "Ghostscript":

              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:

            Ghostscript*geometry:     612x792-0+0
            Ghostscript*xResolution: 72
            Ghostscript*yResolution: 72

       Then merge these resources into the X server's resource database:

            % xrdb -merge ~/.Xresources

       See attributes(7) for descriptions of the following attributes:

       |Availability   | image/ghostscript |
       |Stability      | Volatile          |

       The various Ghostscript document files (above), especially Use.htm.

       See   http://bugs.ghostscript.com/   and   the   Usenet   news    group

       This document was last revised for Ghostscript version 9.54.0.

       Artifex  Software,  Inc.  are  the  primary maintainers of Ghostscript.
       Russell J. Lang, gsview at ghostgum.com.au, is the author  of  most  of
       the MS Windows code in Ghostscript.

       Source  code  for open source software components in Oracle Solaris can
       be found at https://www.oracle.com/downloads/opensource/solaris-source-

       This     software     was    built    from    source    available    at
       https://github.com/oracle/solaris-userland.   The  original   community
       source  was  downloaded from  https://github.com/ArtifexSoftware/ghost-

       Further information about this software can be found on the open source
       community website at http://ghostscript.com/.

9.54.0                           30 March 2021                           GS(1)