Is it OK to print PNG files?

Quick Answer

Yes, it is perfectly OK to print PNG files. PNG (Portable Network Graphics) is a common image file format optimized for web use. PNG files support transparency and lossless compression, making them ideal for use online where file size and image quality are important. When printing PNG files, the transparency and compression generally won’t cause any issues. The printed output will closely match the on-screen appearance. PNG is a raster image format, meaning it stores image data as a grid of pixels. This makes it well-suited for printing photographic images or images with solid colors and sharp edges. Vector formats like SVG would be better for printing simple graphics with geometric shapes. But overall PNG is a very printable format.

Printing Quality of PNG Files

PNG files are designed to reproduce high quality, detailed images. When printing a PNG, the output quality will depend on the original image resolution and your printer’s capabilities. Here are some key points about printing PNG files:

– PNG supports lossless compression. This means no image data is lost during compression, so printed quality is preserved.

– PNGs can store up to 48-bit color depth, allowing for a wide color gamut. This helps printed output contain rich, accurate colors.

– Transparency is supported in PNG files. The transparent areas will show through as blank space on the printed page.

– Resolution in a PNG is up to the creator. Higher resolution files will print clearer and more detailed. For best print quality, PNGs should be at least 300dpi.

– PNG does not support CMYK color. Images are stored in RGB color. This means some color conversion may occur when printing, but this rarely affects quality.

– Printers attempt to rasterize PNG’s vector data. This can cause some minor artifacting of curves and edges in high contrast areas.

Overall, PNG’s capabilities make it an excellent choice for printing high quality photos, illustrations, charts, icons, and other image-based documents. The PNG format will do a good job of preserving detail, sharpness, and color accuracy when printing.

Common Uses of Printing PNG Files

Here are some of the most common uses and applications where printing PNG files is standard practice:

– Print photos – PNG is a leading format for high resolution digital photos. Photos are often edited in PNG format and users want to print copies for display or keepsakes.

– Print web graphics – Icons, logos, buttons, and graphical elements are often saved as PNGs for use online. Web developers will frequently print PNG mockups when designing sites.

– Print charts/diagrams – PNG can efficiently store the colors, lines, and text needed for charts, graphs, diagrams, and schematics. These are commonly needed for printouts in business and academia.

– Print transparency effects – The transparency of PNGs allows for rounded corners, anti-aliased edges, and drop shadows that print nicely.

– Print posters/flyers – PNGs are used in desktop publishing for print posters, flyers, brochures, and advertising. The format handles text, graphics and photos in print.

– Print stickers/decals – PNG’s solid colors and sharp edges work great for printing customizable stickers, decals, and embellishments.

– Print scrapbooking – Scrapbook hobbyists design decorative pages with PNG clip art, frames, letters, and embellishments.

– Print craft patterns/templates – Craft sites offer PNG files of patterns, templates, and drawings for users to print out.

– Print t-shirt designs – PNG’s transparency is perfect for printing t-shirt designs with cutout effects.

– Print manga/comics – Digital artists often distribute comics and manga as PNGs which fans print.

So in summary, PNG files are suitable and regularly used for a wide variety of print projects both professionally and casually. The format’s versatility makes it a reliable choice.

Softwares That Support Printing PNG

Most standard image viewing, editing, and design applications fully support opening, editing, exporting, and printing PNG files. Here are some of the most common programs with full PNG printing capabilities:

– Image Viewers: Windows Photos, Preview (Mac), IrfanView, XnView

– Design Programs: Photoshop, GIMP, Illustrator, InDesign, CorelDraw

– Office Suites: Microsoft Office, LibreOffice, OpenOffice

– Web Browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge

– Image Editors: Pixlr,, PaintShop Pro

– Desktop Publishing: Microsoft Publisher, Scribus

– Printer Drivers: CUPS (Mac, Linux), built-in Windows drivers

Any program on this list will let you open PNGs, make any edits required, and send the PNG to a printer. Most will also allow resizing, cropping, color adjustments, adding text layers, and other manipulations before printing. Specialized PNG editing software will provide even more advanced controls over transparency, color palettes, compression, and metadata. Overall, PNG is one of the most universally supported image formats.

Printing Transparent PNG Files

One of PNG’s most popular features is its support for transparency. This allows image areas to be fully or partially transparent. Printers will handle the transparent regions correctly, leaving blank space where needed. Here are some tips for printing transparent PNGs:

– Partially transparent pixels will blend on the printed page. Solid colors beneath will show through transparent layers.

– Completely transparent pixels print as normal white paper. This is useful for cutouts and irregularly shaped designs.

– Transparency is ignored if printing on colored paper or backgrounds. The paper color will show through instead.

– Dark transparency can seem too light when printed. You may need to adjust levels beforehand.

– Preview the printout first to ensure the transparency looks as expected. What you see onscreen may not perfectly match the printed version.

– Printers cannot produce multiple levels of transparency like onscreen. Transparent pixels either print blank or use their underlying color.

– PostScript printers handle transparency better than non-PostScript printers. Check your printer’s capabilities.

– Rasterizing complex vector/transparency effects first in your software can improve results.

With proper preparation, transparency effects in PNGs will transfer successfully to print. The transparent pixels tell the printer to leave those areas blank. Just be aware of some possible discrepancies with your onscreen display.

Converting PNG to Other File Types for Printing

While PNG files are designed to print well directly, you may want to convert to other formats in specific situations. Reasons for conversion include:

– To CMYK color for professional offset printing

– To PDF for commercial printing purposes

– To SVG for printing simple vector graphics

– To JPG to reduce file size for online transfer

– To EPS for compatibility with older software

– To TIFF for consistency in print production workflows

Here are some tips for successfully converting PNG files:

– Use color management settings to match CMYK color profiles. This maintains color accuracy.

– Adjust compression when converting to JPG to balance quality and file size.

– Vectorize the image when converting to SVG to reduce rasterization artifacts.

– Maintain all layers and transparency settings where supported in the target format.

– Open the converted result first to check for any color shifts, compression artifacts, or other issues.

– Include clipping paths and bleed areas if converting for professional printing purposes.

Converting PNGs to other formats works great in most cases. But for highest quality printing direct from PNG is recommended whenever possible. Test conversions first to ensure optimal printed output.

Printing Very Large PNGs

PNG files can be created at huge pixel dimensions suitable for large-format printing. Here are some tips specific to printing big PNG images:

– Extremely high resolution PNGs put strain on printer memory. Breaking the image into smaller tiles can help.

– Print spooling software can have issues with giant PNG files. Install the latest drivers to improve compatibility.

– Use a PostScript printer for complex, photo-realistic large PNGs. The raster image processor (RIP) handles high resolution raster data well.

– For color-critical work convert the PNG to a wide gamut CMYK color space first like Adobe RGB.

– Avoid cheap desktop inkjets for large PNGs. The ink will bleed and colors won’t be vibrant at high dot counts.

– Use printer interpolation settings for enlarging the PNG if needed. Bicubic or progressive works better than nearest neighbor.

– Add printing marks if doing professional oversized printing. Marks for alignment, bleed, cutting, and folding ensure proper final output.

– Consider converting to PDF/X-4 or other standardized format for commercial large format printing.

With the right printer and proper preparation, PNG’s capabilities can be fully leveraged for oversized poster printing, detailed photographic enlargements, trade show graphics, and other large media.

Printing PNG Files on Unique Surfaces

In addition to standard paper printing, PNG’s reliable image quality makes the format suitable for printing on all sorts of unique materials:

– Fabric – Cotton, polyester, blends work well. Use dye sublimation or direct print for vivid wash-resistant colors.

– Metal – Aluminum panels can be printed directly. Coatings prevent corrosion and fading.

– Wood – Direct print or transfer processes applied to wood. Sealant protects against scratches.

– Plastic – PVC, PETG, acrylic sheets are commonly direct printed or screen printed with PNGs.

– Magnet – Flexible magnetic sheets provide a printable surface for custom magnets.

– Glass – Direct print or etched glass processes allow translucent PNG effects.

– Leather – Polyurethane coated leather can be directly printed for a glossy effect.

– Ceramic – Glazed ceramic tiles can withstand direct thermal printing. Unglazed needs special coatings.

– Food – FDA approved edible inks allow PNG printing on icing sheets, wafers, and more.

Nearly any surface can be made digitally printable using primers, coatings, or film laminates. PNG’s lossless compression ensures maximum print quality. Just adjust color profiles and prepare surfaces appropriately.

Typical Print Problems When Using PNG Files

Overall PNG is a highly printable format, but occasionally issues can arise either from poorly made PNGs or printer/software problems:

– Pixelation – Low resolution PNGs will print pixelated and blurry. Use minimum 300dpi, or higher for detailed graphics.

– Banding – Visible color banding can occur with limited bit-depth PNGs. Use 24-bit or better PNGs for print.

– Posterization – Related to banding, visible quantization happens in gradients. Use PNGs with more color depth.

– Compression Artifacts – Overly compressed PNGs show distortion. Keep compression levels moderate.

– Missing Layers – Programs may not transfer transparencies or layers correctly to the printer. Print previews help.

– Moire Patterns – Interference patterns caused by misaligned dot screens. May require changing printer settings.

– Color Issues – Incorrect color management can shift hues or alter contrast in the printout.

– Cut Off Images – Printer margins that cut into the image area. Adjust page layout to add whitespace.

With well-prepared PNGs and calibrated print workflows, these issues rarely occur. Do test prints whenever feasible to confirm results.


In summary, PNG is considered among the most printable digital image formats available today. It preserves quality well across software ecosystems and printer models. For photos, graphics, diagrams, text elements, transparency effects, and more PNG provides reliable results. Just take care to use high resolution sources and manage color thoughtfully. With these best practices in place, expect smooth printing workflows and vivid, accurate printed output. PNGs bring web graphics seamlessly into the real world.

Leave a Comment