Documents Not Printing – Stuck In Print Queue

An easy fix for a document that will not print and status stays as ‘printing’. The most frequent problem with printers (apart from the ridiculous cost of ink!) is when documents are not printing because a document gets ‘stuck’ in the print queue – meaning that it won’t print out.

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.


Fixing the print queue

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.

60 Responses to: "Documents Not Printing – Stuck In Print Queue"

  1. Shahrukh says:

    Does not seem to work in Windows 7. Get the response -System error 5 has occurred.

  2. Cam says:

    This is the only thing that works for this horrible printing pause that happens……sweet…thanx!!!!

  3. Missy says:

    I followed the instructions above and all files were deleted, but when I tried to print again the new files are sitting there with the status “printing”. Is there any other suggestion as to what can be wrong?

  4. frank d. says:

    Worked perfectly. The best computer troubleshooting advice I have ever gotten. Thanks a million.

  5. Javed says:

    Does this tip will work for Windows server 2003, its means stop spooler services will stop all printings? how about a particular printer queue ?

  6. Vinny says:

    I tried this and it cleared it. However, I tried printing again and now the status is blank /:

  7. Roy says:

    Blank status could be due to an empty ink cartridge – especially on HP printers. If not, there are others causes which may be why the doc became ‘stuck’ in the first place – see my answer to comment 3 and try the MS fixit to troubleshoot it

  8. Melanie says:

    I run Windows 7. I did exactly as the instructions say. Run As Administrator is **NOT** an option. When typing Command, no search options come up – just the command prompt box.

    • Joe90 says:

      type ‘command’ and you ‘should’ see Command Prompt appear in the search results (listed under Programs). Right click on it and select ‘Run As Administrator’.

      If it really doesn’t appear then click ‘Start’ then All Programs then Accessories and you will find Command Prompt there – right click on it and select ‘Run As Administrator’

      • Melanie says:

        Ah, as long as I don’t hit “enter” for the search, it does come up in a right-clickable way. It didn’t solve the problem until after I restarted the computer – but I did finally get a print. Thanks!

  9. Dani says:

    Hi, quick question; how do I fix this problem if I’m using a network printer? The computer the printer is physically connected to prints beautifully, but all three of the other networked laptops just get stuck in the queue. Please help? Thanks.

  10. Sarah says:

    Ive got a printer on the server that wont print ive cleared the printing list and reset the print spooler but when the user go’s to print it just keeps sticking on the list any way to over come this?

  11. Bamsefar says:

    Awesome man, high five!

  12. Kim says:

    This is great. Thank you! So can you explain…WHY does this happen? Why does a document get stuck in the print queue like that? We have a wirelss printer and two computers do fine but one seems to always get documents stuck…but only when printing from web-based email program. Any insight? Thanks!

    • Roy says:

      Per Microsoft – “To prevent this problem in the future, always make sure that you have the most recent printer driver installed on the computer”.

      Perhaps the one that gets stuck has an older driver than the others? Look for an update at the printer manufacturer’s website – and also make sure your browser is up to date

  13. jessica says:

    thank you so much!!!! i have been googling options for days for this fix and finally something works. you are a genius!

  14. Sam says:

    That’s brilliant, thank you so much! why does it let sh*t get jammed like that these days? thought PC’s would be more sophisticated???

  15. Ashley says:

    Thank you so much! That helped real quick! You’re a life saver!