This document refers to PStill version 1.70 and newer.

'PStill', 'pstill' and 'GPStill' - what is the difference?

'PStill' is the name for the general software and engine, 'pstill' is the name of the command line converter module, while 'GPStill' is the name of the GUI PStill version available currently for Windows systems. This document handles the use of 'pstill', the command line program. For GPStill see 'PStill_Guide.pdf' as part of the PStill/Win distribution.

The Windows GUI version GPStill has a nice feature - it displays the list options for the command line version in its log for each run. You can save this log by double clicking into the log area. This allows to play with the settings using the GUI and then take over the options for the command line run.

Is there a difference in usage of 'pstill' on Windows, Linux and other *NIX OS?

No, all versions accept the very same set of options.

How can I get a list of options?

Run pstill -H, since the option list may be long you can also pipe it into a file, e.g. pstill -H | more or pstill -H > options.txt and open this file with an editor of your choice.

Are there limitations for unlicensed versions?

Since the Linux and *NIX versions are free (as free beer) for personal and edu use no restrictions except a one second pause and a console message upon startup applies for them. The Windows command line version however needs licensing, otherwise it will place a visual mark on its output and a long pause of 15 seconds is in effect before a conversion is started.

Can I run several pstill processes in parallel on the same machine?

Yes, as long you give each PStill a unique temporary directory using option -T path, otherwise the processes may interfere. Also keep in mind that PStill is licensed by running 'instance', so you may need more licenses or a special 'parallel' license for this kind of use in a commercial environment.

Easy usage

There is a 'meta' option that sets everything to reasonable defaults:

pstill -M default -o outputfile.pdf input

You can combine it will other options as you need.

Example for Options for 'office use'

Office use is defined by relative low requirements for the resulting PDF in terms of color space accuracy and placement. The main goal here is to provide 'screen' and 'laser printer' accurate output creating small files.

To convert a file to PDF use this option set:

pstill -F a4 -2 -c -c -c -c -g -i -p -t -v -J 75 -C -K -o outputfile.pdf input

Options in detail:

Attention: If your input contains screenshots or other 'artificial' images, using JPEG (option '-J #') may make the results actually larger in size than necessary! This is not a limitation of PStill but of the the gerneral method and you should not use -J # for such files.

Example for Options for 'prepress use'

Prepress use is defined by the higher placement accuracy of the output and needs usually CMYK/spotcolors colorspaces and overprinting takeover.

pstill -F a4 -2 -c -c -c -c -g -i -t -d 700 -a 4 -m XimgAsCMYK -m Xspot -m Xoverprint -o outputfile.pdf input

  • -F a4 set the default page size to A4, use -w # -h # for custom formats instead
  • -2 turns on PS Language Level 2 processing, recommended
  • -c compress using Flate method (lossless)
  • -g advises PStill to get the page size for the job, if possible
  • -i advises PStill to include fonts
  • -t advises PStill to take the transfer function into account
  • -d # tells PStill to use an internal raster of 700 DPI (makes for ~1400 dpi placement accuracy)
  • -a # tells PStill to write #+2 digits behind the decimal dot for coordinates
  • -m XimgAsCMYK advises PStill to convert all RGB images to CMYK
  • -m Xspot advises PStill to write spot colors as spots (drop this option if you want spots converted to CMYKs)
  • -m Xoverprint advises PStill to take over 'overprinting'
  • -o out this defines the output file
  • input defining the input, multiple files possible here

    In general PStill allows to define several input files, also in a mixed format of PS, EPS, PDF, TIFF and JPEG. PStill process them in sequence and concat their results in the output.

    Converting to EPS or PS

    This option requires a valid PSRW-type license. All options for PDF generation can be used as shown above, you only need to add

    pstill ...other options here... -m Erewrite -o outputfile.eps (for EPS output)


    pstill ...other options here... -m Prewrite -o (for PS output)

    Be sure to use at least -M default for other options to give PStill reasonable defaults!

    This information is given in the hope to be useful but without any warranties. Trademarks are used only for identification purposes. 'PStill' is a registered trademark of Frank Siegert. Please send questions or fixes to my email address (See contact info on the main page)

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