I have seen this question asked in a couple of different ways on SO and several other websites, but most of them are either too specific or out-of-date. I'm hoping someone can provide a definitive answer here without pandering to speculation.
If some browsers offer this and others don't (or if you only know how to do it for some browsers) I welcome browser-specific solutions.
Similarly, if you know of a mainstream browser that has specific restrictions against EVER doing this, that is also helpful, but some fairly up-to-date documentation would be appreciated. (simply saying "that goes against XYZ's security policy" isn't very convincing when XYZ has made significant changes in said policy in the last three years).
Finally, when I say "change default print settings" I don't mean forever, just for my page, and I am referring specifically to print margins, headers, and footers.
I am very aware that CSS offers the option of changing the page orientation as well as the page margins. One of the many struggles is with Firefox. If I set the page margins to 1 inch, it ADDS this to the half inch it already puts into place.
I very much want to reduce the usage of PDFs on my client's site, but the infringement on presentation (as well as the lack of reliability) are their main concern.
The CSS standard enables some advanced formatting. There is a
@page directive in CSS that enables some formatting that applies only to paged media (like paper). See http://www.w3.org/TR/1998/REC-CSS2-19980512/page.html.
Downside is that behavior in different browsers is not consistent. Safari still does not support setting printer page margin at all, but all the other major browsers now support it.
@page directive, you can specify printer margin of the page (which is not the same as normal CSS margin of an HTML element):
<style type="text/css" media="print">
size: auto; /* auto is the initial value */
margin: 0mm; /* this affects the margin in the printer settings */
margin: 0px; /* this affects the margin on the html before sending to printer */
border: solid 1px blue ;
margin: 10mm 15mm 10mm 15mm; /* margin you want for the content */
Note that we basically disables the page-specific margins here to achieve the effect of removing the header and footer, so the margin we set on the body will not be used in page breaks (as commented by Konrad) This means that it will only work properly if the printed content is only one page.
This does not work in Firefox 3.6, IE 7, Safari 5.1.7 or Google Chrome 4.1.
Setting the @page margin does have effect in IE 8, Opera 10, Google Chrome 21 and Firefox 19.
Although the page margins are set correctly for your content in these browsers, the behavior is not ideal in trying to solve the hiding of the header/footer.
In Internet Explorer, the margin is actually set to 0mm in the settings for this printing, and if you do Preview you will get 0mm as default, but the user can change it in the preview.
You will see that the page content actually are positioned correctly, but the browser print header and footer is shown with non-transparent background, and so effectively hiding the page content at that position.
In Firefox newer versions, it is positioned correctly, but both the header/footer text and content text is displayed, so it looks like a bad mix of browser header text and your page content.
In Opera, the page content hides the header when using a non-transparent background in the standard css and the header/footer position conflicts with content. Quite good, but looks strange if margin is set to a small value that causes the header to be partially visible. Also the page margin is not set properly.
In Chrome newer versions, the browser header and footer is hidden if the @page margin is set so small that the header/footer position conflicts with content. In my opinion, this is exactly how this should behave.
So the conclusion is that Chrome has the best implementation of this in respect to hiding the header/footer.