Troubleshooting Print Screen Problems

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Article ID: 75180 - View products that this article applies to.
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You may experience problems when doing a Print Screen from DOS with GRAPHICS.COM loaded. The symptoms may include the following:

  • the machine hangs
  • the printer prints unexpected characters
  • the computer displays the "STACK OVERFLOW" error message
  • Print Screen does not work


The following steps may help solve the problem or explain why the print screen does not work.

  1. The Print Screen utility uses many hardware interrupts, so it is possible that the stack space is running out. To check if space is running out, add the following command to the CONFIG.SYS file (delete any other STACKS= command):
    If this still does not work, add the line
    to the CONFIG.SYS file.
  2. If Print Screen does not work to a Hewlett-Packard (HP) printer when using GRAPHICS.COM, use the HP LaserJet option as a workaround.

  1. Remove all TSRs except GRAPHICS.COM.
  2. Try a lower resolution. Often, a high resolution graphics card (for example, super VGA) will not print properly using Print Screen.
  3. Check for possible hardware problems. These may include:

    • the BIOS does not support the INT 5 call used for Print Screen
    • the printer does not support the Print Screen options chosen
    • the printer cable is bad
    • the printer is not working correctly
To confirm that the printer is working correctly, try copying a file to the printer port. For example, if the printer is connected to COM1, type the following command from the command prompt:
copy c:\autoexec.bat com1
If no printing occurs, there could be a hardware configuration problem for the ports. To check for this, try the following;

  1. Type debug to start the MS-DOS Debug utility.
  2. At the Debug prompt (-), enter d 40:8 L4. The following (or something similar) will be displayed:
          78 03 BC 03
The first two numbers represent the I/O port address of LPT1. The second set of two numbers represent the I/O port address of LPT2. These sets of numbers are read in reverse order. For example, 78 03 would be interpreted as 0378 for the port address. Similarly, BC 03 would be interpreted as 03BC.

Normal values for these numbers should be as follows;
        Printer   PC/XT        AT          PS/2
        Port      I/O Range    I/O Rng     I/O Rng
        -------   ---------    -------     -------

        LPT1      03BC-03BF    03BC-03BF   03BC-03BF
        LPT2      0378-037F    0378-037F   0378-037B
        LPT3      0278-027F    0278-027F   0278-027B
Note: Not all machines will follow these settings.

For more information on troubleshooting COM ports and using Debug to create a script file to alter the BIOS table settings, query on the following words:
communications and tshoot
If after checking these settings Print Screen still does not print, then it is not a print screen problem. However, check the MODE command in the AUTOEXEC.BAT file, and change it so that retry=r. For example, a printer hooked to COM1 at 9600 bits per second (bps), no parity, 8 data bits, and 1 stop bit should have the following MODE command:
   mode com1: 9600,n,8,1,r
The "r" is needed because the MODE command checks to see if DSR (data send ready) or CTS (clear to send) return "ready." If one of them does not report ready, DOS will not print. By putting the "r" in the MODE command, you specify "Return 'ready' from a status check of a busy port," which has the effect of always returning "ready." The drawback is that DOS will give a "Critical Error" message if the printer is not ready (for example, the printer is off or something else disallows printing).

If the printer is a parallel printer, DOS 5.0 and later requires a status pin. This was added to MS-DOS 5.0 and later because in some configurations if the printer was not ready when a print job was sent, the machine would appear to hang.

For more information on the STACKS command, query on the following words:
information stacks command ms-dos
For more information on the Print Screen function, query on the following words:
print bios int
For more information on the MODE command, see the version 5.0 "Microsoft MS-DOS User's Guide and Reference" manual.


"Programmer's PC Sourcebook," Thom Hogan. Microsoft Press.


Article ID: 75180 - Last Review: May 12, 2003 - Revision: 2.0
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 5.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 5.0a
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 6.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 6.2 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 6.21 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft MS-DOS 6.22 Standard Edition
Retired KB Content Disclaimer
This article was written about products for which Microsoft no longer offers support. Therefore, this article is offered "as is" and will no longer be updated.

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