One of the most frustrating problems computer users have is when a document gets “stuck” in the printer queue. Not only will it not print, but it prevents every file in line behind it from printing as well. How can you get your printer unstuck? There are actually many different things you can try.
In Windows the print jobs are not directly sent to the printer. Instead, they land first in the spooler. The print spooler is a program that manages all the print jobs that are you are currently sending to a printer. The spooler makes it possible for a user to delete a print job in process or change the order of the pending print jobs.
When the spooler stops working, the print jobs just sit in line waiting their turn. But since the job at the front of the line is going nowhere, neither will they. There are many reasons why this can happen. Let’s look at what you can do to free up the spooler.
Common spooler troubleshooting tips
Sometimes you can see that it is one particular file that is not printing correctly, and all you may need to do is get rid of that one file.
If you want to try deleting the one file that is creating the logjam:
1. Click on Settings.
2. Select “Printers.”
3. Click “Open Queue.”
4. Select the file that you believe is causing the problem.
5. Click on documents and select the option to cancel the print job.
If you try that and the printer queue is still stuck, try using the printer menu to delete all the print jobs.
If neither of those approaches works, perhaps your printing issue could be solved with a simple restart of your machine and printer. Try rebooting your computer and restarting your printer. Unplug any wired connections, and plug them back in before the machine reboots.
If none of those common solutions are able to solve your backed up spooler, there are several other ways to solve the problem.
Using the Control Panel
One way to clear the spooler is to use the Control Panel.
1. Type control panel into the search box and select the app.
2. Type “printer” in the search box.
3. View “Devices and printers.”
4. Right click on your printer.
5. Click “See What’s Printing.”
6. Click on Printer in the menu bar.
7. Select “Cancel all documents.”
Using Command Prompt
If you are comfortable with using the command prompt, you might want to try this method:
1. Right click on the Start button.
2. Select “Command Prompt (admin).”
Net stop spooler
This command will stop the spooler from running.
Del %systemroot%\system32\spool\printers\* /Q
and press Enter.
5. When you have completed that step, start the spooler back up so that you can print by typing
Net start spooler
and pressing Enter.
Using the management console
A third way to clear your spooler is by using the management console. Services.msc is a shortcut in the Windows operating system that lists all the services on your computer. It tells you whether the service is running or not and allows you to start or stop these services.
Follow these directions to use the management console to stop the spooler, clear it out, and restart it.
1. Use the keyboard shortcut Win + R to open the Run menu.
3. Scroll down until you find the print spooler.
4. Click on the print spooler.
5. In the top-left corner of the window click “Stop the Service.”
6. Leave that window open and launch File Explorer.
7. In the address bar of that window type
and press Enter. The files listed are the documents that are currently in the printer queue.
8. Highlight the files in the folder.
9. Right-click and click “Delete.”
10. Go back into the Print Spooler service window.
11. Click Restart the Service.
Use Computer Management
Here’s one more way to access the spooler. It’s just a different path than the one described above.
1. Right click on the Windows Start Menu.
2. Click on Computer Management.
3. Click on Services and Applications.
4. From here, follow the same steps as laid out in the directions for the management console.
Every user of Windows will most likely have their printer queue stop working occasionally. Luckily, as we’ve seen, it’s not usually a complicated problem to fix. But if your queue is having this problem on a regular basis, you should check the drivers for your printer and make sure they are up to date.
If you have the most recent drivers, and there is still a problem, you can try to prevent the congestion in the spooler by design. Limit the number of documents you print at one time or make sure you print larger documents separately.
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