How to use PStill on the command lineThis document refers to PStill version 1.84 and better but its general content may be useful also for earlier releases, however their option set may be more limited.
For the impatient:
pstill -M defaultall -o output.pdf input
should work for most users. '-M defaultall' is a meta options for a basic setup with page size take over, compression, transparency handling, unicode map and font reprocessing.
To concat PDF using the 'pdfasm' tool (part of PStill starting 1.84.32):
pdfasm output.pdf input1.pdf input2.pdf input3.pdf ...
While PStill can also combine PDF, pdfass avoids the reprocessing step and is much faster in general.
To linearize PDF using the 'pdflin' tool (part of PStill starting 1.84.32):
pdflin -linearize [-compressxrefs] output.pdf input.pdf
Creates a web-optimized version of the source.
'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.
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.
Note: Options are case sensitive! E.g. -m is different to -M !
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.
PStill needs installation, usually it is just a matter of supplying the base fonts and make them known to PStill. However this step is important, if you omit it or use bad fonts here the results may be not what you expect.
On UNIX systems read 'INSTALL' (contained in the PStill distribution) before using PStill on your data, on Windows first run GPStill and let it generate a base font set. If you look for base fonts see also http://www.pstill.com in section 'Other PStill and PDF related information' and the PStill FAQ.
PStill needs to know where its helper files are: You may either set the environment variable PSTILL_PATH to the value of the PStill program directory or call 'pstill' with an absolute path to the executable, e.g.: "C:\program files(x86)\gpstill\pstill.exe" ...
Also keep in mind that PStill chdirs to its program directory during operation, so when supplying file paths make them relative to this directory or supply absolute paths too.
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 -M regenfonts -M optimizefonts -W -M useSrcUnicodeMap -o outputfile.pdf inputfile
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.
Prepress use is defined by the higher placement accuracy of the output and needs usually CMYK/spotcolors colorspace.
pstill -F a4 -2 -c -c -c -c -g -i -t -K -d 700 -a 4 -m XimgAsCMYK -m Xspot -m Xoverprint -M regenfonts -M optimizefonts -W -M useSrcUnicodeMap -o outputfile.pdf input
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.
Option -K should be used whenever you plan to reprocess the resulting PDFs, e.g. concat them in other tools or submit them to third parties. This way PStill emits more font encoding imformation to the PDF.
PDF/A is a subset and more focused form of PDF for the purpose of long term archiving. PStill can output PDF/A-1b:
pstill -M defaultall -m XPDFA=INTENTNAME -m XICCProfile=COLORPROFILE.ICC -m XPDFACompat=9 -C -o outputfile.pdf input
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. Acrobat and others are registered trademarks of Adobe Inc. and are used for identification purposes only. Please send questions or fixes to my email address (See contact info on the main page)