A print job stuck in the print queue seems to happen at the worst time. Most of the time deleting the job and waiting a few minutes will do the trick. Yet every once and a while the job just won’t go away and a reboot seems inevitable. Before rebooting, give our instructions below a try.

If after trying our instructions you’re still having issues the next step is to reinstall the print driver. For reinstalling print drivers we recommend using a utility like KM Deleter utility to completely remove the old driver. This utility works on all print drivers. It will find and remove orphan files and other leftover DLL’s from previous print drivers.

So is it possible to clear a print queue without rebooting? Yes, here’s the how to instructions. Skip to printing tips.

Windows 10

As usual with Windows there is more than one way to accomplish this task. The quickest way is with a command prompt. But you will need to open an admin command prompt. Skip to the command prompt instructions.

If you want the easy way stay in Windows. Just follow the instructions below. Basically we will stop the print spooler, delete some files, then start the spooler.

Step 1. Right click on the start button and then click run. Alternatively, you can Hold the Windows Key + R to launch the run box.

Run Dialog Box

Step 2. Click in the box and type: services.msc. Then click OK or press enter. This will launch the Windows Services.

fix print queue

Step 3. Double click or right click print spooler. This will open the properties dialog box. Click stop, then click OK. Leave this dialog box open for later.

Fix Print Spooler

Step 4. Next, open file explorer. You may be prompted to gain rights to access this folder. Still, you need to navigate to this folder: C:\Windows\System32\spool\PRINTERS

fix print queue

Step 5. Make sure show hidden files is enabled by clicking on the view tab. The box should be checked in order to show hidden files.

Hidden files dialog

Step 6. Delete all the files in this folder. There will be .SHD and .SPL files. Sometimes there will be a .TMP file, delete that too.

fix print queue

Step 7. Go back to the services dialog box. Click start, then click OK. This will cause the service status to change from stopped to running.

print spooler dialog

Now your print queue is clear and ready to print again, without having to reboot. To prevent jobs from hanging up in the print queue, keep scrolling to our printing tips.

Command Prompt

Warning- we’ll be using the del command within the Windows folder. Any type errors could delete unintended files or folders. Be careful.

  1. Open a command prompt as an Admin. Right click on start menu, then click CMD.
  2. Type “net stop spooler” and press enter.
  3. Type “del %systemroot%\System32\spool\PRINTERS\*.* /A:H” and press enter.
  4. Press Y, then enter if prompted.
  5. Type “net start spooler” and press enter.
  6. Type “Exit”.

Now the print queues of all installed printers has been cleared and ready to print. And without rebooting.

Printing Tips

Not Printer or Driver Specific!

  • Use another program, such as FoxIt PDF for printing PDFs
  • Be sure to keep Adobe reader and PS drivers updated for best results printing PDFs
  • PDFs don’t print as well from web browsers. Disable browser plugins or download PDF to print.
  • Search for and clean out old formulas from Excel spreadsheets for faster printing times.
  • Or copy excel spreadsheet into new workbook without formulas. Then print that sheet.
  • Use Kyocera Mita’s deleter utility to remove leftover print driver files. Works for all print drivers, not just KM drivers.
  • If darker settings isn’t making it dark enough, set paper type to heavy. Trick it at the printer when you load paper as well.
  • Resolution can also help with darkening or lightening prints.

Troubleshooting Printing Issues

A reboot will usually remove the contents in the print queue as well as starting a fresh instance of the print spooler service. In my experience deleting the contents of the PRINTERS folder has occasionally fixed a slow printing issue. 

One way to tell if your print spooler is operating correctly, is to watch the Spooler SubSystem. Before sending a print job, open task manager and look for spoolsv.exe. Click print and then watch spoolsv.exe size. It’s normal for a file to double or triple in size when it goes through the print queue, it is not normal for spoolsv.exe to balloon in sizes approaching or exceeding Gigabits. This is a sign somethings wrong with your driver or the file you are printing.

Fix Printing Issues

As we mentioned KM delete utility will help if the issue is with a corrupt print driver.

If the issues is with your files, our printing tips cover the most common issues. Not so common issues are missing fonts, print permissions, or version conflicts. Modern OS and drivers seem to have eliminated missing font issues. Yet it wasn’t that long ago that a mere warning message could mysteriously bring all printing to a halt.

If a file has a special font or specifically special math characters, check if your printer can download fonts. Or switch from that special font to a system font. Missing fonts shouldn’t gum up a print queue nowadays. But it’s something that shouldn’t be overlooked. The worst that happens is you speed up printing by switching or onboarding special fonts to your printer.

Printing issues can also be from version conflicts. Either the version of the print driver, the app, or the printers firmware. One or more of them conflict. Upgrade them all if possible. At the very least upgrade the print driver. Or try a different one if your printer supports one.

Lastly, sometimes proprietary apps don’t have all the nice warnings or logs mainstream apps do. They might see a task, such as printing a specific file, requiring elevation as a normal operation. Even a mainstream app like Adobe reader doesn’t necessarily make it obvious you need permission to print a file.

Final Thoughts

We hope all the tips and suggestions here have helped. Beyond all of that if you’re still having issues you may need more drastic measures. Which I understand have been outlawed in several states. A few countries. And maybe against a few religions. I think it may be easier and safer to just replace it.

fix print queue
copier guy

My name is Dave, aka The Copier Guy. I’ve worked on scanners, printers, copiers, and faxes over 23 years. When I’m not fixing them I’m writing about them. Although, I’m probably better at fixing them.  I’ve worked with every major brand. As well as several types of processes. If it uses paper I’ve probably worked on one.

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