/ jansonius / scientific software / psview

PSVIEW: PostScript and PDF viewer for DOS


PSVIEW as presented here can be used to view PostScript and PDF files from DOS. PSVIEW needs PDFTOPS, GhostScript, and LXPIC. In fact, PSVIEW is a user friendly shell for these programs: a PDF file is transformed to PostScript using PDFTOPS; a PostScript file is transformed to a series of pcx images by GhostScript; the images are viewed with LXPIC.

The latest version of PSVIEW was tested with LXPIC version 7.3, PDFTOPS version 3.02 and GhostScript (GS386) version 5.10.


GhostScript is supposed to be in c:\gs. Optionally, this default GhostScript path can be changed by generating (type psview /cfg) and editing configuration file psview.cfg. PSVIEW, LXPIC, and PDFTOPS may be in any directory mentioned in the path in c:\autoexec.bat; psview.cfg should be in the same directory as psview.exe.

Viewing a PostScript or PDF file

Syntax: psview [path]foo.ps or psview [path]foo.pdf. If a document contains more than one page, hit Enter to view next page; Backspace brings you back to previous page. Press Esc to end viewing. Numeric-island + and - enable zoom. Key k toggles between single page and an overview of all pages.


Switch /pcx converts either PostScript or PDF to PCX, and switch /ps PDF to PostScript. Output files (page*.pcx or output.ps) are stored in the root of the drive where GhostScript is located (usually c:\). Switch /hr starts PSVIEW in high resolution mode, /vhr in very high resolution mode.

Default screen mode is 800x600. If your systems doesn't provide this mode then switch /vga can be used. This makes PSVIEW call LXPIC in 640x480x16 mode. If PSVIEW is called from another progam, like CWSTART, then switch /vga cannot be used. In that case, PSVIEW.EXE should be renamed to PSV800.EXE and a batch file PSVIEW.BAT should be made containing a single line:

  psv800 %1 /vga %2 %3 %4

Type psview /? or psview -h for online help. This PDF-document can be viewed with PSVIEW and can be used for testing purposes.

first public release: 7-2-2004 (PSVIEW 7.3)

latest update: 1-2-2008

Note: PSVIEW was designed to run in plain DOS on a 386 or better computer. It was tested with OpenDOS 7.01, DR-DOS 7.02, MS-DOS 6.20 and FreeDOS 1.0 (courtesy Edmund Swylan). Running PSVIEW in full-screen Windows 95/98 is possible as well. There is no need, however, for using PSVIEW on a Windows computer: FOXIT or Acrobat reader is more appropriate then. The reason why I programmed PSVIEW is that the latest (and last) DOS-version of Acrobat reader is completely obsolete and unable to display any modern PDF file.

PSVIEW uses PDFTOPS to decode PDF files, not GhostScript. The reason is that PDFTOPS is, unlike GhostScript for DOS, still actively maintained and therefore better equipped to handle modern PDF documents.