You will not receive an error message but the status of the document in the print queue will stay as ‘printing’ forever and never actually print.
Can’t I Just Delete The Document? You should certainly try this first but often it will not work – the ‘stuck’ document will change to ‘deleting in progress’ but never actually delete. Until it is deleted properly no further documents can be printed because they are in a queue (the first job submitted must be printed before any subsequent jobs can progress) – so if you keep on trying to print more documents to ‘test things’ you will just end up with loads of print jobs queued up…
How To Fix It – The fix is simple. You need to clear the print queue manually so that all the print jobs currently in the queue are deleted properly – once the queue is empty you should then be able to print new documents without problems. We will show you how below, depending on whether you use XP or Vista/7:
1. XP – click ‘Start’ then click ‘Run’ and in the Run window type CMD then press ‘OK’ – this opens a Command Prompt window. Now skip to Step 3.
2. Vista/7 – click ‘Start’ and type Command in the search box. Right click on the ‘Command Prompt’ result in the search results above it and select ‘Run As Administrator’ – this opens a Command Prompt window.
3. All version of Windows – in the Command Prompt window (these commands are also shown in the picture below):
4. Type net stop spooler then press the Enter key.
5. Type del %windir%\system32\spool\printers\*.* /q then press the Enter key (Note: the only spaces in this command are a single space between del and %, and a single space between * and /q)
6. Type net start spooler then press the Enter key.
7. Type exit then press the Enter key to exit the Command Prompt window.
This should have cleared the print queue (i.e. all print jobs have been deleted) and you can now submit new jobs for printing 🙂
What Do These Commands Do?
The Command Prompt is a throwback to the pre-Windows days of Microsoft DOS but is still a useful way to type and enter system commands. The print Spooler is basically the print ‘queue’ – we need to Stop it running before we can Delete documents stuck in it.
The Del command deletes everything currently held in the print queue, including the ‘stuck’ document(s). We then have to Start the Spooler (print queue) up again so that it can accept new print job requests in future.
What If It Keeps Happening?
If the problem only occurs occasionally it is likely just due to an incompatibility with the actual data being printed e.g. a webpage that has unusual fonts or some other format that the printer is unable to convert into printed output – run the above fix to resolve it.
However, if you find that almost all documents keep getting stuck in the print queue then Microsoft’s answer is that it is an issue with your printer drivers (software) – one solution may be to download and update new printer drivers from the manufacturer. You could also try the Microsoft automatic Fix It for printers – see our review here. This will repeat our fix above but may also flag up/fix any different Windows errors that stop printing.
Other causes may include a misconfigured printer e.g. network printing to an IP address that doesn’t exist – uninstalling and reinstalling the printer software from scratch should fix this.