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Thread: [SOLVED] change default paper size

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Leidschendam NL
    Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope

    [SOLVED] change default paper size

    Hoi allemaal,

    I setup my system with US defaults. Therefor my default paper size is US letter. My printer (hp photosmart d5160) uses paper size a4 so I want to adapt the system default paper size. I failed: applications (e.g. firefox) seem not to listen to my actions. Here is the list of unsuccessful atttempts to change the default paper size:

    1. System > Administration > Printing > Printer Options: Media Size: A4 (replacing Letter).
    2. at the login screen: choose a language where the environment has a4 as a default e.g. English (UK)
    3. add the following lines to "/etc/environment" and reboot afterwards:
    4. edit /etc/papersize and replace "letter" by "a4" and reboot

    After being so unsuccessful I asked my system some questions:
    • from a terminal (shell):
      $ grep DefaultPageSize /etc/cups/ppd/*.ppd
      /etc/cups/ppd/PDF.ppd:*DefaultPageSize: A4
      /etc/cups/ppd/Photosmart_D5100_series.ppd:*DefaultPageSize: A4
    • install and run PrintingBugInfoScript (from the UbuntuPrintingTeam?) as described at
    • note: some interesting output lines of that script:
       PDF: Generic PDF file generator
       Photosmart_D5100_series: HP PhotoSmart D5100 Foomatic/hpijs, hpijs 2.8.2
      Date: Wed Aug 13 23:46:36 2008
      DesktopEnvironment: GNOME
      DistroRelease: Ubuntu 8.04
      EtcPapersize: a4
      Locale: LANG=en_GB.UTF-8, LC_CTYPE=en_GB.UTF-8, LC_PAPER=en_GB.UTF-8
      Uname: Linux elro 2.6.24-19-generic #1 SMP Fri Jul 11 23:41:49 UTC 2008 i686 GNU/Linux

    My question: how can I change the system wide paper size to a4?

    Thank you for reading this long story, groeten, Roel.
    Last edited by roel46; August 15th, 2008 at 04:21 PM. Reason: make complete

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Leidschendam NL
    Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope

    Re: change default paper size

    solution for my problem found on Dutch forum:
    1. system wide default page size was well set as described before
    2. firefox doesn't listen to the system wide default page, it listens to its own settings. These can be viewed and changed via "about:config":
      • search line "print.postscript.paper_size"
      • and set to "a4" (via right click > modify)

    thanks for all contributions, roel.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Beer Sheva, Israel
    Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex

    Re: [SOLVED] change default paper size

    Finally.. Goodbye "Letter"!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Ubuntu Mate

    Re: [SOLVED] change default paper size

    This issue also exists on Ubuntu 12.04 with Mozilla Firefox 17 and Thunderbird 17.

    As already mentioned a workaround is to change the value of print.postscript.paper_size setting.

    • In Firefox:

      while in Thunderbird:
      • go to Edit -> Preferences -> Advanced -> General tab -> Config Editor
    • Search for print.postscript.paper_size
    • Doubleclick the preference to change its value and enter iso_a4 (which defines that default paper size is A4 as defined by ISO 216 standard).

    For advanced users:

    The user preferences are saved in the following plain text files:
    • For Firefox:
    • For Thunderbird:

    I was also able to set this setting system wide by adding the following line in /etc/firefox/syspref.js (for Firefox) and in /etc/thunderbird/syspref.js (for Thunderbird):

    pref("print.postscript.paper_size", "iso_a4");

    Note that if a setting is set both in the system wide configuration and user preferences, the later prevails.

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