Shallow Thoughts

Akkana's Musings on Open Source, Science, and Nature.

Sat, 18 Mar 2006

Linux Can't Print Envelopes?

I needed to send a formal letter, so I thought, as a nice touch, I'd print the address on the envelope rather than handwriting it.

I felt sure I remembered glabels, that nice, lightweight, straightforward label printing program, having envelope options. But nope, it doesn't have any paper sizes corresponding to envelopes. (It has a size called A10 but it's 1.0236 x 1.4567 inches, not the 4.13 x 9.50 I'd expect for a number-ten envelope.) Darn, that would have been perfect.

OpenOffice doesn't have anything in its templates list that corresponds to an envelope, nor does it have anything in the Wizards list. But googling showed me -- aha! -- that it's hidden in the Insert menu, Insert->envelope -- so if you want to create a new envelope document, create some other type of document first, go to Insert and bring up the envelope dialog, click New to get the envelope, then close the blank dummy document.

But then it doesn't offer a choice of envelope sizes, and puts the text in odd places so you have to fiddle with the margins to get the recipient and return address in normal places. Then, when you go to Preview or Printer Settings, it has forgotten all about the fact that it's doing an envelope and now tries to print in the middle of a sheet of paper. In theory you could fix this by setting the paper size to the size of the envelope -- except that OOo doesn't actually have any envelope sizes in its paper list.

Okay, let's try abiword instead. Abiword has a nice selection of paper sizes, including some common envelope sizes. Choosing A10 envelope and Landscape mode lets me compose a nice looking envelope. But then when I go to Print Preview, it turns out it wants to print it in portrait mode, with the addresses going across the short dimension of the envelope. The Print dialog offers a Paper tab which includes an Orientation dropdown, but changing that from Landscape to Portrait makes no difference: the preview still shows the addresses disappearing off the short dimension of the envelope.

I suppose I should try kword. But it depends on nine other packages, and I was tired of fighting. I gave up and wrote the address out by hand.

The next day, though, I went back to gLabels, poked around for a bit and found out about "Template Designer" (in the File menu). It's almost there ... it's easy to set up custom sizes, but it prints them in the middle of a US-letter page, rather than lined up against the edge of the printer's feeder. I'm dubious that you could feed real envelopes this way with any reliability. Still, it's a lot closer than the word processing programs could get.

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[ 17:36 Mar 18, 2006    More linux | permalink to this entry ]