Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Because some questions come up repeatedly, it is helpful to look at our most "Frequently Asked Questions" before calling Technical Support. Sometimes your answer will already be listed here. If you do not find your answer here, you may optionally wish to visit our user forum before contacting Technical Support.

If you do need to contact Technical Support, and you have not yet registered your software, please know that we require certain important information from you before we can help. (Approved Seagull Scientific resellers and other business partners only need to provide their name and company name.)

Please visit the Technical Support web page for contact information.

Please click on the topic or question you need help with:


Is there a free "Trial" version available?

A : Absolutely! Our free Trial Edition works like a full-working version of BarTender for 30 days! (After this time, you can still continue creating templates, but you will need to purchase the full-working version in order to continue printing.)

Download BarTender

How do I install BarTender?

A : BarTender can be installed from the CD you received when you purchased BarTender or you can simply download the latest version.

Chapter 2 of BarTender's Getting Started Manual gives detailed instructions covering installation of the BarTender Suite and Drivers by Seagull™. You can download a PDF version of the Getting Started Manual here:

Getting Started Manual

If I have an older version of BarTender, can I still download it for free?

A : Downloads for supported versions of BarTender are available on the BarTender Service Release page.

What operating systems can BarTender be installed on?

A : The current version of BarTender is compatible with Windows Server 2003 (SP1 and higher), Server 2008, Server 2008 R2, Server 2012, Server 2012 R2, XP (SP3 and higher), Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1. Including all 32-bit and 64-bit (x64) editions.

If you are using an older version of BarTender, you can check the Legacy Support Page for a full rundown on Windows compatibility with legacy versions of BarTender.

Although BarTender can only be installed on Windows based operating systems, using our various integration tools, BarTender can be used in almost any environment that has at least one Windows machine available to install it on. More information on BarTender integration can be found here:

Integrating BarTender

If your version of BarTender is not compatible with the version of Windows you intend to use, you will need to contact our sales department for details on updating your software. Click on the link below for the contact details of our regional offices.

Contact Information for all offices


What is software activation? Where can I learn more about it?

A : Please see the Activation white paper for complete information about activating your copy of BarTender.

How do I move an activated copy of BarTender (or the Seagull License Server) from one computer to another?

A : Moving an activated copy of the software is a simple two-step process. First, make sure that you have your Product Key Code on hand, as you will need this to activate the product on your new computer. Once you have that, simply deactivate the software from the computer it is currently activated on by accessing the Activation Wizard in BarTender's Help menu. Then use your product key code to activate the software on the new computer using the same activation wizard.

See the Activation white paper if you have any questions about the activation process.

If you are moving the Seagull License Server, BarTender's 30 day grace period will allow you to make this move without interrupting printing of the BarTender clients. Just make sure your BarTender clients have access to the new computer hosting Seagull License Server, and that you configure Seagull License Server to use the same port. To minimize downtime, you can install (but not activate) the License Server on the new computer before deactivating it on the old computer. See the Seagull License Server section of this FAQ for more information on the Seagull License Server and BarTender's Grace Period.


I am new to BarTender and template design. Where do I start?

A : A "Getting Started" manual is included with each package of software. This provides clear, concise information on how to get up and running with BarTender. If you have misplaced this manual or you have not yet purchased a license, you can download a PDF version from the link below:

Getting Started Manual

Our website also provides numerous training videos that provide a step by step guide to walk you through common BarTender questions. These videos can be found at the link below:

BarTender Label Software Training Videos

We also have a BarTender user forum where you can browse through questions asked by other users of BarTender and ask your own questions.

BarTender User Forum

Is BarTender compatible with printers that don't have a Seagull printer driver?

A : Yes, BarTender can be used with any printer that has a true Windows printer driver, including, for example, most laser and ink jet printers.

Seagull Scientific is the world's largest developer of Windows printer drivers for thermal printers, supporting over 2800 models from over 60 printer companies. "Drivers by Seagull" can help you maximize your printers' performance. For the details on Seagull's drivers, please follow the link below:

"The Advantage of Drivers by Seagull" Whitepaper

Do you have any pre-made templates that I can use?

A : Yes, BarTender comes with a range of pre-made templates for several major retailers. During installation, these templates are placed on your computer's hard-drive in the following directory: My Documents > BarTender > Formats.

When printing, the fonts for the text objects on the printed label look different than the fonts that are on my screen. Why is this?

A : In the on-screen design view the text can only be displayed with a Windows true type font. If you are printing your text with a printer based device font, it may look a bit different when printed. BarTender has the ability to simulate how the printer based font will look using true type fonts that are installed on the PC. Sometimes the printed results will look identical, other times they may appear slightly different. It purely depends on the true type fonts installed in Windows and how well they match the printer based font being used. Based on the information BarTender gets back from the driver and Windows about the printer based font, it does the best job possible in giving you a good representation of what the output will look like.

How can I share the same data between more than one template object?

A : In the Professional (or higher) edition of BarTender, you can use Named Data Sources to share data between multiple data sources. To start, simply open the properties of the object you want to share data from, go to the Data Source page, and then click the Change Data Source Name wizard to the right of the Name field. This wizard will allow you to give the data source a unique name. You can then access the Data Source Name wizard from any other data source in your template, select the same Data Source Name from the list of named data sources, and the two data sources will share the same underlying data. You can also access any Named Data Sources from custom applications using BarTender's .NET SDK, ActiveX interface, or even BarTender XML Script.

If you would like to share the value of an entire object to a new data source, you can select Object Value as the data source type on the data source that you want to share information to. Once you've done that, you will be able to select the name of the object you want the data source to pull data from. You will have the option to choose different values based on the type of object that you are sharing data from (e.g. Main Data Source, Human Readable Text, Encoded Data, etc.).

More information on using these methods can be found in BarTender's Help system by searching for "Naming and Sharing Data Sources"

Can I use BarTender with my current database?

A : Yes, you can! BarTender comes pre-configured for easy connection to many popular database platforms (like Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server), but you can use BarTender with any database that has an OLEDB provider or an ODBC driver.

This video tutorial walks you through connecting a BarTender template to your database

Reading Data from a Database


Why does my barcode seem to "jump" when I try to resize it?

A : The X-dimension setting of a barcode specifies the width of the barcode. This in fact adjusts the number of dots a printer uses for the width of the narrowest element of the barcode. All other bars of greater width grow in ratio to the narrowest bar as you expand the barcode's width.

The size of the dot and the X-dimension are determined by the selected printer's resolution. A dot represents the size of the smallest mark the printer can print. Each step in the X-dimension increases the narrowest element by a single dot of the printer. The printer resolution is important because it's impossible to increase the narrowest elements by fractions of a dot. It can only increase by a full extra dot. Of course all wider barcode elements grow in ratio to this.

For example if the narrow element is 1 dot wide and the widest element is 10, when we increase the X-dimension by 1, so that the narrow element is 2, the widest element will now be 20. This accounts for the "jumping" in the barcode's width when you increase the X-dimension. The higher the resolution of the printer, the smaller these increments will be, because the size of a single dot will be smaller.

We do not advise that you try working around this physical limitation of the printer by exporting the barcode object as a graphic and then importing it back into your design as a picture object. Although a picture object can be scaled to any dimension desired, it will result in a poor quality barcode and may be unreadable for a barcode scanner.

BarTender allows you to specify a target x-dimension of your barcode, which will tell BarTender to always render your barcode as close to the target x-dimension as possible. This feature can be found in the properties of the barcode on the Symbology and Size page. Click on the Wizard button to the right of X Dimension.

Why am I not able to print a Code 128 check digit in the human readable portion of my barcode?

A : It is not possible to print a Code 128 check digit in the human readable portion of the barcode, because the check digit has the possibility of being a non-printable character such as a space, tab or control character. If you need a check digit for your barcode to produce a visible character, then you should create a custom check digit in addition to the symbology's built-in check digit. This custom check digit can be generated using a VB script, which takes the barcode data as its input.

Are there any pre-made examples of barcode standards, such as GS1 barcodes, that I can use and modify?

A : Yes there are! Click the barcode icon and select More Barcodes to open the Barcode Selector. The navigation bar on the left side of the Barcode Selector lets you choose from dozens of pre-defined barcodes broken down by Application and by Symbology. Once you find the barcode you need, simply double click it, and then click on a blank area in your template to add it to your template design.

How do I know what kind of barcode to use?

A : If your barcodes will only be used for an internal process, you should choose the barcode that best suits your needs based on the type of data being encoded, the amount of data being encoded, and the device from which it will be scanned. If you are creating barcodes that will be used outside your company , you should check with the company or industry council to see what requirements they have.

Seagull Printer Drivers

What versions of Windows are your printer drivers compatible with?

A : The newest "Drivers by Seagull" are fully compatible with all editions of Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 as well as Windows Server 2003, 2008, 2008 R2, 2012, and 2012 R2, including 32 and 64 bit versions. Follow the link below to download:

Drivers Download Page - Latest Version

Older Drivers:
Our last driver release to support Windows 2000 was 7.2.1. Our last driver release to support Windows 98 and ME was v7.0.6. Our last driver release to support Windows 95 and NT4 was v6.9.3. Those older driver sets, and also our final drivers for Windows 3.1, can be downloaded at the following link:

Older Drivers Download Page

Are your printer drivers compatible with Remote Desktop Services (Terminal Services) and Citrix Xenapp (MetaFrame)?

A : Yes, all our Seagull printer drivers have been compatible with these two platforms for some time. However, it is recommended you always use the latest version available for the version of Windows in use to get the best performance and reliability.

For more information on our support for the Terminal Server and Citrix platforms, please take a look at the white paper found at the following link:

Using BarTender With Terminal Services and Citrix MetaFrame

How do I adjust template specific printer settings (such as printing darkness) within BarTender or my driver?

A : When you open the Printing Preferences dialog by right-clicking on the printer driver icon in the Printers folder of Windows, you can change the default settings of the driver for that particular user of the PC. When a new document is created (in BarTender for instance), the settings will start off using the same settings found in the Printing Preferences dialog.

BarTender saves a copy of these printing preference settings with the template design. In this way the settings can be adjusted on a per template basis, without the different settings interfering with each other. When you make a change from within BarTender, you will only be modifying the settings embedded into the template, rather than the general printing preferences of the Windows user. Because the print settings are considered part of the template design, they can be used by any computer that has an equivalent printer driver installed. To adjust the driver settings for any individual template open the Print dialog and click the Document Properties button.

Why is it that when I print out my items, the objects on the items are bigger (or smaller) than what is shown on my screen?

A : This is typically caused by having the wrong resolution printer driver for your printer. Many times, a printer manufacturer may have versions of the same model with different printer resolutions. If you have a lower resolution printer (i.e. 203dpi) and are using a higher resolution printer driver (i.e. 300dpi), the print on the item will be larger than what shows on the screen.

The opposite applies if you're using a higher resolution printer (i.e. 300dpi), with a lower resolution printer driver (i.e. 203dpi). In this case, the printer would print everything much smaller than what you see on the screen.

The solution for this problem is to make sure that the printer driver you've installed for your printer is the same resolution as your printer.

I can't get my printer to work. What could be wrong?

A : Many printing problems can be resolved by following the Printer driver self-help located in the Help system of your Seagull printer driver.


What types of data input (triggers) does Commander support?

A : Commander currently supports the use of file, email, serial port and TCP/IP socket triggers. Any data in the trigger needs to be in a format that BarTender can read. This can include an SAP IDoc or Oracle XML in addition to standard ASCII text files such as CSV.

Optionally the trigger can contain BarTender XML Script, which allows you to dynamically insert commands, instructing BarTender on which label template to load, which printer to print to, how many labels to print, etc. For more information on Commander, please take a look at the two Commander white papers found at the links below.

Commander Overview Whitepaper

Commander Examples Whitepaper

What are Commander Variables and how do I use them?

A : "Commander Variables" are used to provide specific information about the trigger at time of task execution.

Among other uses, these variables can be used to specify such things as the text file name, the IDoc file name, the trigger file contents, and additional command parameters.

Most commonly the "%Trigger File Name%" Commander Variable is used to specify to BarTender that the file that Commander detected and renamed is the same data file to use with the template when printing. For more information on Commander, please take a look at the two Commander white papers found at the links below.

Commander Overview Whitepaper

Commander Examples Whitepaper

How many tasks can I have in a single task list?

A : Commander has been designed to be fully scalable. Indeed the main limitation when using Commander is the limitation imposed by the hardware of the computer in use. You may create as many tasks as you wish, however you should bear in mind that each task runs in its own thread, each of which consumes processor time and memory.

If you are using more than 10-20 different tasks, you should instead consider using BarTender XML Script or Commander Script to dynamically write the BarTender commands in the trigger file when it is produced by the requesting system. For more information on Commander, please take a look at the two Commander white papers found at the links below.

Commander Overview Whitepaper

Commander Examples Whitepaper

Why doesn't Commander detect my trigger files?

A : If you do not select a unique user during BarTender installation, the Commander Service will run under the Local System account. This is a special Windows account that is used for internal processes of Windows including services. You will often find that this account does not have sufficient access or permissions to use network resources such as files, folders or printers. If your trigger files are in a network directory, you will need to specify a user account for the Commander Service that has sufficient access permissions. You can change this by opening the Windows Services, opening the Commander Service, and changing the Log On to a user that has proper credentials.

You also need to ensure that you are using the full UNC path to your trigger file directory in Commander instead of a mapped network drive. Mapped network drives are not normally accessible to Windows Services.

My trigger file is detected, but BarTender doesn't print anything. What could be wrong?

A : You should first ensure that your design prints directly from BarTender without any errors. If it does, try switching Commander to run as an application instead of as a service. To change this, open Commander and click the Administer menu, then choose Service Setup. Change the Run Option from a service to an application. If your document prints correctly at this time, it is very likely that BarTender doesn't have access to all of the resources that it needs. You should ensure that the account running the Commander Service has sufficient access to all printers, folder, and files that BarTender needs to access.

If you choose to run Commander under the Local System account (and your Trigger File directory is local to the machine), then you can set the BarTender processes to run under a particular user using the Command Handler Setup. To do this, stop detection in Commander, click the Detection menu and select Command Handler Setup. In the Command Handler Setup screen, go to the User Account Tab and check Run BarTender under specified account. When choosing an account to run the BarTender processes under, make sure that it has access to all files, folders and printers needed at print time.

Please note you should not run the BarTender processes under a specific user account if the Commander Service is already running under a specific user account. Instead, give the Commander Service account the necessary permissions to access the BarTender resources, as those changes will propagate down to the BarTender processes.

Seagull License Server

What is the Seagull License Server?

A : The Seagull License Server (SLS) that comes with the two Automation editions is Seagull's tool for monitoring BarTender and enforcing printer licenses. Seagull License Server's only job is license enforcement – it does not physically print documents or communicate with printers in any way. The Seagull License Server is installed in one location on your network. Each of your BarTender installations will attempt to contact the Seagull License Server at print time for printer authentication.

See the Licensing Whitepaper for a more information.

How does BarTender communicate with the Seagull License Server?

A : BarTender Automation editions (including Automation and Enterprise Automation) connect to the Seagull License Server (SLS) via TCP/IP network communication using the UDP protocol. This is the case when the License Server is running on another PC on the same network and when it is running on the same computer that is running BarTender.

What happens if BarTender can't connect to the Seagull License Server?

A : In the event that BarTender is suddenly unable to communicate with Seagull License Server (SLS), BarTender does not immediately lose the ability to print. Instead, a 72 hour "grace period" begins counting down so that you can have time to resolve the problem without losing the ability to print. (The "grace period" only applies to loss of communication with SLS and not to printer and user license limits being exceeded. That condition has its own separate grace period discussed below.)

How can I troubleshoot connectivity problems between BarTender and the Seagull License Server?

A : First, ensure that the License Server is installed, activated and running on your network. Then make sure that the computer running BarTender is able to connect to the computer running Seagull License Server.

Next, check that BarTender and the Seagull License Server are using the same port for communication. You can check the port in BarTender by going to Administer and then Licensing Setup. To check the port in the Seagull License Server, go to the Tools menu, click on General Options, and select the Network tab. The ports in both applications must match in order for BarTender and Seagull License Server to communicate. The default port for most installations is 5160. For print only installations the default is 5195.

If you still don't have connectivity, and your network contains more than one subnet (that is, you are running on a WAN), you will need to specify the IP address of the computer running Seagull License server in each BarTender installation. To do this, open BarTender, select the Administer menu, and click Licensing Setup. Uncheck "Automatically Find Seagull License Server" and enter the IP address of the computer running Seagull License Server into the Server field. (You can click the Test button to test connectivity).

Finally, you may need to make an exception in your firewall to allow BarTender and the License Server to communicate. The steps for doing this vary based on your firewall in use, but you should allow UDP communication on the port specified in a previous step, and then "unblock" or create exceptions for both the BarTender and Seagull License Server applications.

How can I remotely administer the Seagull License Server?

A : Install a copy of the Seagull License Server on your remote PC from where you wish to administer the license server (no need to activate it). Next select the Actions menu and click Connect to remote Seagull License Server. Then select the address and port number of the PC on which the remote license server is running.

Alternatively, you could run a license server "command line" command using the "/remote" switch option. As the computer running license server is remote from where you wish to administer it, you should use a UNC path to specify the application's location. See the following example, which may be entered via the Windows Start>Run dialog.

\\ComputerName\ShareName\sls.exe /remote

What happens if I exceed my printer license?

A : It can sometime be easy to exceed your maximum allowable printer license count for legitimate reasons. A 30-day grace period is automatically initiated any time you use more printers than your printer license count allows. The main console screen of the Seagull License Server (SLS) will display a message that you have 30 days to correct the problem. In addition, if the Alert Setup option has been properly configured (which is strongly recommended), an email message will be sent out notifying an IT manager (or other target) of the license violation. Follow up emails will be sent once per day until the issue is resolved.

During the 30-day Printer-Limit-Exceeded Grace Period (or until you resolve your problem), SLS will temporarily allow for double the normally-allowed number of printers, ensuring that you will not lose productivity during the overage

Hardware Key
This section only applies to those copies of BarTender that are shipped with a hardware security key.

BarTender says the HASP driver is not installed?

A : The device driver for the HASP hardware key (or dongle) sometimes may not install correctly. Also, from BarTender version 7.75 build 2003 and higher, the HASP key device driver is not automatically installed as part of the BarTender installation. You will need to install this separately if you are using a hardware key. The device driver can be found in the Key folder of the BarTender CD. The device driver installed by older versions of BarTender (v7.10 and below) might encounter compatibility problems with newer versions or updates of Windows, such as XP, 2003 server, Vista and later versions.

In such cases you should download and install the latest HASP device driver from the Seagull FTP site at the link below:

HASP Driver Download

My PC does not have a parallel port. Do you have a USB key option?

A : Yes, we offer both USB and parallel keys. Be sure to specify your desired hardware key type at the time of your order. (Otherwise, by default, we will ship you a USB hardware key.)

If you already have a parallel key and wish to swap for a USB key this is possible also. In such a case, please get in touch with your local Seagull sales representative who will inform you of the costs involved.

Please note that the USB key device has no "pass-through" capability, so once plugged in, it will occupy a USB port on your PC. (A parallel port hardware key does offer "pass-through" capability, meaning you can plug another device, such as a printer, into the back of the hardware key so data will pass through. However, this may cause technical issues and therefore we do not recommend it.)

The key is not being found at all. What can be done to resolve this?

A : Make sure the latest device driver for the key has been installed and the key is securely connected to the PC. If the "Key not found" error still appears then it is possible that the key is faulty.

In such a situation, please contact our technical support department. A technician will determine whether the key is indeed faulty and if so, will arrange to send you a replacement key.

The key seems to be corrupt because my license appears to be incorrect. What has happened and how can I fix it?

A : If you are using BarTender v7.10 or older, the software is activated by the activation code programmed into the key. Sometimes this code becomes corrupt, and can give incorrect information such as edition, number of users, or number of printers licensed. In such circumstances press the "F9" key in BarTender or Seagull License Server, and communicate to a Seagull technician the "Key ID" and "Current key settings" as displayed in the dialog that opens. With this information, the Seagull technician can provide you information to reprogram the key and fix it.

Card Printing (Magnetic Stripe, RFID, Smart Cards)

What card printing features does BarTender support?

A : BarTender version 10 and above deliver a rich, powerful set of card printing features, including numerous features required for the most demanding high-tech security systems in operation today. This includes:

  • Print-time image capture
  • Automatic switching between templates (designs)
  • "Smart Card" functionality (RFID and contact)
  • Magnetic stripe support
  • Windows Printer Drivers by Seagull™ for Major Card Printers
  • Two-sided design

See the Card Printing Brochure for a more information.

How do I add Magnetic Stripe or Smart Card encoding to my template design?

A : First, you must have a Driver by Seagull™ selected in your template design, and that printer model must support either Magnetic Stripe encoding or Smart Card technology. If you have this setup, click the Encoders button in the BarTender toolbar. You will then be able to choose from a variety of the Magnetic Stripe and RFID encoding options that are supported by your printer model.

What Magnetic Stripe, Smart Card, and RFID encoding types does BarTender support?

A : BarTender supports a wide variety of RFID, Smart Card, and Magnetic Stripe encoding, including the most up to date EPC Global "Gen 2" specifications, ISO 7811, JIS II, MIFARE, and ISO/IEC 7816. For a full list of supported encoding technologies, search the BarTender Help system for "Supported Encoding Technologies".

What card printers do you currently support?

A : Go to the link below to view a full list of all supported card printers.

Supported Card Printers