Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Design > Adobe Creative Suite

Flash MX Printing

  • Print
  • + Share This
See how to customize printing from a Flash Player by using the print action feature.
This chapter is from the book


  • Implementation
  • Sample Questions

There are a variety of ways that an end user can print Flash content, and some are more effective than others. Following is a list of the primary ways in which a user can execute a Print command, and some notes about each one:

  • Browser File Menu. If a user doesn't see an immediately recognizable printer interface element directly in your Flash content, the Browser File menu is most likely the first place they will go to print. Unfortunately, this method is extremely difficult to control from a development perspective, and will subsequently have varying results. The most important notes about this method are that the user will be printing only (and exactly) what they see at the proportions of the browser window, and Flash developers currently have no way to consistently disable this functionality.

  • Flash Player Context Menu. This is the menu that appears on right-click (Windows) or ctrl + click (Macintosh). In the absence of a visible Print button, this is the second place that many users will go to print. By default, the context menu is enabled in the Flash Player, and consequently, if a developer has not invested any time in the printable configuration of his or her movie, executing a Print command with this method can prove disastrous. If there are no frames in the main Timeline that are designated as printable frames, the Flash Player will begin printing every single frame. Fortunately, changing a few export settings can disable the Flash Player context menu. Because this menu exists only for Flash content, and only when developers have not disabled it, many users are still unaware that this is even an option. It is not recommended that this feature be relied upon in cases where printing Flash content is desirable.


    When a user chooses to print from this menu, she can only print frames designated in the main Timelines, and they will not be able to print transparencies or color effects.


    If a user chooses to print from the context menu, and there are either no frames or two or more frames designated as printable, the "Page Range" area of his or her print dialog—where they would normally determine "number of pages"—will actually mean "specified frames".

  • Using the Print action. Direct printing from the Flash player using the print action has been available since the distribution of Flash Player revision 4.0.20 This is by far the most desirable way to enable printing. Making effective use of the built-in print action will give developers the most robust control over layout, content, and usability.

The remainder of this chapter will be devoted to the implementation details of the print action feature.


The Flash print action comes in two primary commands: Each of these commands has two variations. The primary actions are, Print as Vector (print) or Print as Bitmap (printAsBitmap). Within each of these commands are two variants. You can choose to either print the contents of a movie clip or a single Flash _level. All four versions of the print action will accept an argument that identifies the print area. If this argument is not given, the main movie stage dimensions are used. Some examples are as follows:

print(_root.myClip, "bmax");
printNum(_level0, "bmax");

printAsBitmap(_root.myClip, "bmax");
printAsBitmapNum(_level0, "bmax"); 


Any variant of the print action can (and usually should) target movie clips whose _visible property is set to 0. These movie clips will still print correctly, but they will not appear in the Flash Player-and subsequently can be formatted for the printed page rather than the browser dimensions.


The use of levels as a targeting mechanism should be avoided in nearly every case. By targeting movie clip instance names, your ActionScript will be more explicit and far easier to debug. The only exception to this rule is in cases when you're attempting to target an item within a known stacking order, and you have no need to identify which movie clip that item is an instance of.


Unfortunately, in many cases, printing features tend to be requested after a project has already launched or is nearly complete. It can be extremely time-consuming to implement such features during later phases if attention was not given to them during development. Every Flash application project should be designed and constructed with the idea that certain logical components will eventually become printable. This will cost very little time and energy up front, and will save considerable time and money down the road.

The following sections describe each variation on the print action in more detail.


Print will print high-quality, vector-based printouts of all frames of the target timeline or, if any have been identified, only those frames with a #p frame label. This is the best way to achieve extremely clean, high-resolution print output with an absolutely minimal amount of network traffic and CPU usage.


The print and printNum actions do not print alpha channels, bitmaps, or color effects.


PrintNum is the same as the print action, but will print the specified _level in the target movie clip.


PrintAsBitmap will print out a bitmap version of each frame in the target movie clip or only those frames which contain a #p label. This action will print at the highest resolution available on the end users' printer and as a result, can sometimes take an extraordinarily long time to execute. This action will print transparencies and color effects as well as bitmap images.


In many cases, the Print As Bitmap action provides inferior print quality and much longer print delays than the standard print action, and should only be used when absolutely necessary.


PrintAsBitmapNum is the same as printAsBitmap, but will print only the specified _level.

Bounding Box Arguments

The Bounding Box argument is an optional second argument available within all four variations of the print action. This argument will define the outermost limits of the printable area. If a movie clip is identified as the bounding box, the movie clip's dimensions will be superimposed over any printable frames, and any assets that fall outside of those "bounds" will not be printed. Each variation of the print action also allows for a bounding box argument. If this argument is left blank, the main movie stage dimensions will be used as the bounding box. If this is an undesirable aspect ratio for the printed page (as it will usually be), this argument can be one of the following string values:


"bmovie" will designate a specific frame in the movie as the bounding box identifier for the entire movie. To identify the frame, it must contain a frame label of #b.


If you are duplicating or attaching movie clips to a timeline, and you have a frame marked with the #b label, it is probable that your duplicated movie clips will also exist in the designated frame, subsequently changing the bounds of the printable area.

The following code will print frames in myClip_mc and use the #b frame label to identify the boundaries of all printable frames. The #b frame label must exist within the myClip_mc timeline. For example:

print_root.myClip_mc, "bmovie"); 


"bmax" will simply determine the largest bounding box out of the frames that have been identified as printable, and it will use the largest as the bounding box for all frames printed. If no frames contain the #p frame label, then this will apply to all frames in the movie clip.

The following example will print all frames in myClip_mc and use the largest frame to identify the bounds. This will retain proportional sizes from one frame to the next:

printAsBitmap(_root.myClip_mc, "bmax"); 


Using "bframe" will force each frame to use its own bounding box as the bounds for that particular page. If various frames contain various-sized groups of objects, each frame will fill the printed page.

The following example will print all frames in myClip_mc and will use the bounds of each frame for the printable page, thereby scaling assets and destroying any proportional relationships from one frame to the next:

print(_root.myClip_mc, "bframe"); 
  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020