How to Fix the "Print Spooler Service Is Not Running" Error in Windows

The Print Spooler service acts as a vital intermediary between your Windows computer and the printer, facilitating the handling of print jobs. However, if this service stops functioning, it can render your printer unusable. This guide takes a look at the different solutions for the "Print Spooler service is not running" error.

Good to know: mouse pointer moving on its own? These fixes can help you resolve the issue on Windows.

1. Run the Printer Troubleshooter

The first thing to do when anything goes wrong with the printer or the services related to it is run the Printer troubleshooter.

This utility is designed by Microsoft specifically to scan the system for issues that are preventing the printer from working properly. If any underlying problem is identified, the tool will either attempt to resolve it automatically or suggest relevant fixes that you can apply manually.

  1. Press Win + I to open the Settings app.
  2. Navigate to "System -> Troubleshoot."
Clicking on "Troubleshoot" option in Windows Settings.
  1. Click on the "Other troubleshooters" option.
Clicking on "Other troubleshooters" in Settings.
  1. In the following window, you should be able to see a list of available troubleshooters in Windows. Locate the Printer troubleshooter, and click on the "Run" button for it.
  2. In Windows 10, navigate to "Settings -> Update & Security -> Troubleshoot -> Printer -> Run the troubleshooter” for the same option.
Click on "Run" button next to Printer troubleshooter.
  1. The troubleshooter will begin scanning the system for underlying issues. This may take a while to complete, so hang in there. Once the scan is completed, analyze the results.
  2. If the troubleshooter has suggested a fix, click on the "Apply this fix" button to proceed. Otherwise, choose "Close the troubleshooter," and move to the next method.
Click on "Close the troubleshooter" option after scan is done.

FYI: if you need to make sure files are erased completely from your system, check out the best tools to securely delete files on Windows.

2. Restart the Print Spooler Service

The Print Spooler service itself could be dealing with a corruption error or inconsistency that is preventing it from functioning properly. An easy way to fix issues with the service is to restart it by following the steps below:

  1. Press Win + R to open Run.
  2. Type services.msc in Run and click Enter.
Typing "services.msc" in Run window.
  1. Locate the Print Spooler service, and right-click on it.
  2. Choose "Properties" from the context menu.
Right-clicking on Print Spooler in Services app.
  1. Click on the "Stop" button, wait a few seconds, and click "Start."
Settings "Startup type" to "Automatic" in Print Spooler Properties window.
  1. Expand the drop-down for "Startup type," and choose "Automatic."
  1. Click "Apply -> OK" to save the changes, and check whether the problem has been resolved.

Tip: if your PC is experiencing slow boot times, we have a few suggestions that can speed it up.

3. Clear the Print Queue

The Print Spooler service could be malfunctioning because of stuck or corrupted print jobs. Moreover, there can be a large number of pending print jobs that are putting a strain on it, leading to the problem you are experiencing.

To verify whether this is the case, clear the print queue, and check whether that helps. Doing so will eliminate any clogged or corrupted print jobs and resolve any conflicts and errors that are occurring due to a particular print job.

  1. Type services.msc in the Run window again, and hit Enter.
Typing "services.msc" in Run window.
  1. Inside the Services window, locate the Print Spooler service, and right-click on it.
  2. Choose "Stop" from the context menu.
Clicking "Stop" to halt the Print Spooler service.
  1. Launch File Explorer by either clicking on the folder icon in the taskbar or pressing Win + E.
  2. Navigate to the following location in the File Explorer: "C:\Windows\System32\spool\PRINTERS"
  1. Delete all the files in the Printer folder. Confirm your action in the User Account Control prompt, if it appears.
Printer folder containing no files in File Explorer.
  1. Launch the Service window again, and right-click on the Print Spooler service.
  2. Select "Start" in the context menu.
Clicking "Start" for Print Spooler service.
  1. Click "Apply -> OK" to save the changes.
  2. Close the Services window, and check whether the issue has been resolved.

4. Update or Reinstall the Printer Drivers

In some cases, the issue can also arise due to incompatible or corrupt printer drivers. A problem with your drivers may result in incompatibility with the Print Spooler service, or they could be interfering with the process of this service, causing it to malfunction.

The best way to resolve driver issues is by updating them or manually downloading an updated version of the driver from the manufacturer’s website and installing it.

Uninstalling printer driver via Device Manager.

If updating the drivers does not work, it may imply a more serious underlying problem. In that case, consider uninstalling the drivers, then reinstalling them.

5. Check for Third-Party Interruption

There are times when third-party applications or services can interfere with the processes of the Print Spooler service, leading to the problem. To determine whether this is the case, boot into Safe Mode, and check whether the issue still appears. If it doesn’t, it implies that a third-party app or service is conflicting with the Print Spooler service.

  1. Click on the Windows icon in your taskbar.
  2. Select the power button, and click "Restart" while holding the Shift key.
Clicking on "Restart" button while also holding the Shift key.
  1. Wait for Windows to boot into the recovery environment, and navigate to "Troubleshoot -> Advanced options."
Clicking on "Advanced options" in recovery environment.
  1. Choose "Startup Repair."
Clicking on "Startup Repair" in Advanced options.
  1. Click on the "Restart" button, then press F5 to launch Windows in Safe Mode.
Click "Restart" button in Startup Settings.
  1. Once you are in Safe Mode, try performing the action that was initially triggering the error.

Tip: is System Restore not working for you? Learn what to do.

If you don't see the error in Safe Mode, you have a couple of options to try and resolve the issue. First, perform a System Restore, which will revert your system back to a previous state when the Print Spooler service was functioning correctly. Alternatively, if you have an idea of which specific service or application is causing the conflict, you can manually remove it.

However, if the error persists even in Safe Mode, we recommend seeking assistance from the official Microsoft support team. They can help pinpoint the exact cause of the problem and provide you with appropriate guidance for a resolution.

Print Spooler Service Up and Running

The Print Spooler service plays a vital role in managing print jobs, and addressing any issues promptly is key to maintaining a smooth printing experience. We recommend installing regular system updates to prevent such issues from occurring in the future. Sometimes updates can spell trouble, but luckily, we have a complete guide that shows how to deal with errors brought about by updates.

Image credit: Pexels. All screenshots by Zainab Falak.

Zainab Falak

Zainab is an Actuarial Sciences graduate from Pakistan with a passion for technology. When she's not busy writing insightful pieces on Windows and the latest tech trends, you'll find her with her nose buried in a productivity book, always on the lookout for ways to optimize her workflow and stay ahead of the curve.

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