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Question: How can I print or read a Web page offline?

Question: How can I print or read a Web page offline? Charles Redway <[email protected]> asks: "How can I save a page for reading or printing later? Not just the text but the whole page with its pictures and graphics in the right place. Is there some nifty bit of software that can do this?"

Answer: There are a few strategies to do this, depending on whether you want to read offline and print, or just print. If you want to do both, there are several programs that can download pages and graphics for offline viewing. In fact, this feature is built into the subscription feature of Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 for Mac and Windows, and it’s the raison d’etre of the bi-platform product WebWhacker. (There are many others.)

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With most offline Web browsing programs, you choose a given starting point, like a home page; choose the number of links away from this page to follow, or the depth; and whether to follow links that lead the downloading program off the site that you start it at. The program then reads all the links on the starting page and downloads every image, changing all the HTML and image references to work locally off a hard drive.

If you’ve set up options for the offline browser to follow links, it will download all the HTML and other files linked from your starting page as well. If you set the depth deeper than one level, it will repeat the process with each of these linked HTML pages, following all their links, too. This can rapidly become exponential in nature.

Most of these programs allow a timer option so you can automatically check for changed pages and download those new ones without manually intervening.

If you’re just interested in later printing, you can use a feature of the PostScript printer driver software in the Mac OS and in Windows 95 to save a PostScript file for later downloading rather than just printing it. The options are different for each version of the driver, but you can go into Options, Page Setup, or Properties, and set the output to a file rather than to a printer. Using a PostScript file downloading utility, like Adobe’s Font Downloader (Mac only), you can print the file whenever you choose. [GF]

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