Fix-it: How to remove a document stuck in your Printer Queue

by Michael Sheehan on June 11, 2007

in General, Microsoft, Software

Recently when I was setting up a client’s computer with Windows Printer Sharing, I ran into an issue where a document was stuck in the print queue and was brining the system down to a crawl. First I tried deleting the document from the queue the “traditional” way by opening “Printers and Faxes” and launching the stuck printer and right-clicking the document name and selecting “cancel.” With that process, the document was stuck in cancel-mode for hours and obviously didn’t work.

I found the process for fully deleting the document from the queue and the steps are listed below:

  1. Launch the SERVICES program. There are a couple of ways to do this:
    • Go to Start > Programs > Administrative Tools > Services
    • Got to Start > Settings >Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Services
  2. Look for the “Print Spooler” service. Click on it and select STOP. Make sure that the services shows as “Stopped”
  3. Open Windows Explorer (a shortcut for launching Windows Explorer is to hit the Windows Key – if your keyboard has it – and E at the same time)
  4. Navigate to: “c:/windows/system32/spool/printers”
    • Note: You may have to allow Windows Explorer to show system folders. You can do this in Explorer by going to Tools > Folder Options and selecting the VIEW tab.
    • There should be a check box (that might be unchecked) labeled “Display the contents of system folders” –> Check this box and click OK
  5. Once you can view the contents of that folder, you will (hopefully) see 1 or more documents. You are viewing your printer queue at that point.
  6. Select the file(s) and delete them
  7. Go back to the Services program (see step #1) and restart the Print Spooler service
  8. Check the printer queue (see the first paragraph) and confirm that the Spooler is now empty

Did you find this solution useful? If so:

Hope that helps! Why, in my case, the Shared Printer created docs that caused the queue to stall is a topic for another discussion someday.

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  • Robert Schmidt

    Thanks for leaving this very helpful tip. Google is amazing too… a couple of years ago I thought it very unlikely that typing “windows document stuck in queue” would get me exactly what I wanted in a second or two.

  • Robert Schmidt

    Thanks for leaving this very helpful tip. Google is amazing too… a couple of years ago I thought it very unlikely that typing “windows document stuck in queue” would get me exactly what I wanted in a second or two.

  • Sam

    Thank You!!!

  • Sam

    Thank You!!!

  • http://miriammogilevsky.wordpress.com Anonymous

    Wow! Thanks for this fix. I know you said that why the printer stalls in this first place is a topic for another post, but do you have any ideas about that?

  • http://illogicalparadox.frihost.net Mimzy

    Wow! Thanks for this fix. I know you said that why the printer stalls in this first place is a topic for another post, but do you have any ideas about that?

  • http://www.hightechdad.com hightechdad

    Glad it worked! You know, I'm not sure as to the root cause of why this happens. Could be corruption in the printer queue or a malformed document. -HTD

  • http://www.hightechdad.com hightechdad

    Glad it worked! You know, I'm not sure as to the root cause of why this happens. Could be corruption in the printer queue or a malformed document.

    -HTD

  • garry

    The last time it happened to me this wasn't a simple because it happened at work and I almost ruined that printer. It was really embarrassing I never what to repeat that experience. Ever since then I am extra careful with my printing tasks.http://www.superwarehouse.com/Printer_Supplies/

  • garry

    The last time it happened to me this wasn't a simple because it happened at work and I almost ruined that printer. It was really embarrassing I never what to repeat that experience. Ever since then I am extra careful with my printing tasks.
    http://www.superwarehouse.com/Printer_Supplies/

  • http://www.hightechdad.com hightechdad

    So, did the suggestion in the post work for you? If so, let me know. If it didn't, I would like to find out where it failed.Thanks,HTD

  • http://www.hightechdad.com hightechdad

    So, did the suggestion in the post work for you? If so, let me know. If it didn't, I would like to find out where it failed.
    Thanks,
    HTD

  • garry

    Yes, it definitely worked for me, I know a fact that I can handle this now.

  • garry

    Yes, it definitely worked for me, I know a fact that I can handle this now.

  • lewis

    brilliant works everytime thanks alot

  • lewis

    brilliant works everytime thanks alot

  • kalinalessa

    I LOVE YOU FOR THIS! WORKS EVERY TIME! ^_^ Thanks!

  • kalinalessa

    I LOVE YOU FOR THIS! WORKS EVERY TIME! ^_^ Thanks!

  • http://www.hightechdad.com hightechdad

    Glad that it works for you!-HTD

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/hightechdad hightechdad

    Glad that it works for you!

    -HTD

  • Dominic

    Fantastic!!! Very many thanks.

  • Dominic

    Fantastic!!! Very many thanks.

  • Nathan Nim

    A payroll document froze inside my que and prevented me from printing any checks for any employees! This was definitely a life-saver. Thanks :)

  • Nathan Nim

    A payroll document froze inside my que and prevented me from printing any checks for any employees! This was definitely a life-saver. Thanks :)

  • http://www.hightechdad.com hightechdad

    Wow! Glad that it worked! I'm sure your employees are happy too (grin).- HTD

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/hightechdad hightechdad

    Wow! Glad that it worked! I'm sure your employees are happy too (grin).

    - HTD

  • Clint

    Wow – thanks for this easy-to-follow and execute solution to an exasperating print queue problem. My old solution took up to an hour removing printers and drivers and then reinstalling over and over. This cleaned up the problem in under a minute. A real time saver. I printed several copies and gave them to friends that have battled this before. Kudos to you!

  • Clint

    Wow – thanks for this easy-to-follow and execute solution to an exasperating print queue problem. My old solution took up to an hour removing printers and drivers and then reinstalling over and over. This cleaned up the problem in under a minute. A real time saver. I printed several copies and gave them to friends that have battled this before. Kudos to you!

  • akhil

    thanks for your simple insutructions to this annoying problem. You saved me a lot of stress!

  • akhil

    thanks for your simple insutructions to this annoying problem. You saved me a lot of stress!

  • http://www.hightechdad.com hightechdad

    Glad that it worked!- HTD

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/hightechdad hightechdad

    Glad that it worked!

    - HTD

  • anonynmous

    tried 3 times, worked on the 3rd, on my pc, twas an option called 'kill process', but the rest worked just as you described in your very reader friendly instruction, the stuck to unstuck took me blissfully under 2 minutes, thanks alot for sharing!

  • anonynmous

    tried 3 times, worked on the 3rd, on my pc, twas an option called 'kill process', but the rest worked just as you described in your very reader friendly instruction, the stuck to unstuck took me blissfully under 2 minutes, thanks alot for sharing!

  • anonynmous

    and as a micro token of thanks, i clicked all your ads! ihih! :)

  • anonynmous

    and as a micro token of thanks, i clicked all your ads! ihih! :)

  • meme

    I can clear the spool but still cannot print anything. Just sits there stuck again.

  • meme

    I can clear the spool but still cannot print anything. Just sits there stuck again.

  • http://www.hightechdad.com hightechdad

    Did you follow all of the instructions as I listed out? What was the result?

  • Aegoli

    thanks so much 4 ur help..dis is absolutely amazing..d 1st time it happened, i called HP technician n they charged me to fix it..dis time around i decided on d 'do it urself' method cuz i was broke…thanks a million.

  • http://www.hightechdad.com hightechdad

    Glad that it worked for you! Next time, you can pay me (grin). Just
    click some ads, Digg or tweet about my site is enough. Good luck to you!

  • Geri C

    I know this article is 2 years old, but it just helped me resolve a printer queue problem I've been trying to fix for 2 days! Needless to say, I'm not a techie or it would not have taken me 2 days to figure out to look up the solution on the internet. Thanks! Most helpful!

  • boxoffice

    THANKS!! Worked GREAT! Except to stop the spooler I used the Windows key + E then typed “cmd” then “net stop spooler” and then followed your instructions from #3 to #6, then I used the Windows key + E again, typed “cmd” then “net start spooler” to finish. It all worked in a jiffy, thanks.

    For all of those out there without an IT person doing this yourself, don't forget to do #4 and remember to go back to #4 and uncheck “Display the contents of system folders” to go back to the way you were before. Unchecking that box again is not necessary but I like to leave things the way I find them, ESPECIALLY on computers.

  • Denise

    Hey just wanted to drop by an tell you that I clicked “stop” on that print spooler and then went back and clicked “start” on the print spooler. The stubborn document was gone from my que! Thanks

  • yael

    thanks!!!! helped a lot! :)

  • javier

    Thanks you very useful

  • javier

    Thanks you very useful

  • Katie

    THANKS!!! Directions very simple & easy to follow!

  • thanks

    great tip, thanks this just saved me

  • Annie

    You are an angel. Got a college project due in on Monday, now after 10 on Saturday and the feckin printer has me in a heartspin! Thanks a million.

  • GrlNxtDuh

    Thank you soooooo much!!!!! ?

  • http://www.hightechdad.com hightechdad

    Glad that it worked for you!

  • leronimo

    I always got this problem when printing large documents like a llc member withdrawal agreement on my Windows machine. I found an even better solution: I switched to ubuntu, and now whenever an application freezes i just run xkill and click on the app and it goes out right away.

  • Michael Hagerman

    Thanks, I was installing a new printer and the driver must have been corrupted. I tried removing the printer and starting over but after each reboot the corrupted printer reappeared. I found this was due to the test prints being stuck in the queue (not allowing the printer to fully uninstall). Once I followed the given directions the corrupted printer fully uninstalled on its own.

  • cathyperry

    Saved me from making a service call – thanks so much!

  • Hanea

    Thank you it worked for me too! Windows7-64bit and HP LaserJet P1005

  • ongamesite

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    Just do a click http://www.ongamesite.com. Good luck!!!

    Internet games,Computer games,Windows games and nice video

  • Bret

    Awesome… saved it to my favorites… this saves me so much time!!

  • Brent

    He is a genius

  • Yonit

    Thank you so very much! had a document stuck in the printer queue that just would not go away. So frustrating!! I tried other sites but to no avail until I came upon your site. Worked like a bomb! Blew the silly print job right out of the spooler!!!

    Thanks again

    have a lovely day

  • C Georges

    You Rock! Thanks.

  • http://professional-suggestion.com/ Uninstall Program

    Thanks for your sharing!

  • Wknollen

    Thanks. It worked.

  • Splumster

    Thanks, Dad!! This is a problem for me. Glad I don’t have to delete my printer and re-install it anymore. Now, did you write that article on why this happens? I might need that too.

  • gail

    help, when i go to start i don’t see settings or programs. under all programs i don’t see administration the next step. can u help me

  • Graj14

    thank you .. this really helped ..

  • http://www.11x17printer.net 11×17 printer

    I love reading and I am always searching for informative information like this! You are bookmarked!

  • Hottopic

    thank you! you fixed it!!

  • Christazuber

    Thank you Dad. My work depends on my computer working properly. I very much appreciate your help. And it worked. Big hug and back to work I go.

    Thank you

    Christa

  • BLP

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU – I just started a new teahcing job, and have encountered technical problem one after another – you saved me ripping out ANOTHER handful of hair!!!!

  • http://www.hightechdad.com hightechdad

    Great! Glad that it worked for you! Congrats on the new job too.

  • Kate Ritchie

    THANK YOU!!!!!! So very much. It works again. I didn’t have to resort to going all office space on it. http://youtu.be/wzGWvZAd228

    THANK YOU!!!!

  • Michael

    I’ve had real problems with documents getting jammed in the print queue, so this solution ws brilliant. Thank you so much.
    Just one comment. Some of the terminology seemed a bit dated. On my Vista PC, I eventually found Administrative Tools in Control Panel > System and Security. Once I’d got there, everything was as described.

  • Julie

    THANK YOU SO MUCH, YOU FIXED MY PRINTER!!!!!!
    It’s rare to find something on the internet that’s actually helpful in troubleshooting, I appreciate it!

  • http://www.hightechdad.com hightechdad

    Glad that it worked for you!

  • hannah

    thanks! this actually worked. first time I think I have found something that actually works from the net!!

  • Thanks

    Thank you sooooo much!!!!! I couldn’t find a detailed solution anywhere!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Xlozx2000

    saved me

  • Emiller182

    Thank You!!! I’ve been struggling with this for the past 3 days and nothing was working. Oh, maybe I’d eventually get the corrupt file out only to have it show up again the next time I printed. Your way worked and I am again a happy printer!!

  • efor310

    Thanks. Now I have a way for myself (and others) to fix those stupid print que errors without restarting the computer.

  • Njford5139

    How can I get a documet off of my printer that is deleting and is holding other documents back. I can cancel the others but when it says deleting it is like froze.

  • neeshah

    When I try to STOP my Print Spooler, it says “loading files to memory for later printing” as the description. This persists for a very long time. How do I fix this?

  • neeshah

    actually the good news is that my printer is working now, although the status never came up as stop in the Print Spooler…

  • ka

    it took a while for the document to clear, but this worked! Even unplugging and shutting things off didn’t work. thank you soooo much

  • Susan

    Yes – awesome! Thank you! 

  • Getsimple123

    I love this!  Seriously, I have used this twice and have it saved on my bookmarks.  Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Leknowlton

    I tried this on a networked pc and it will not clear it out.  Access to the user’s ..printers folder is denied.  Stopped and re-started the net spooler. Re-booted to no avail.  I’m thinking I’ll need access to the server command line to get it cleared out.

  • Guy Tremblay

    Amazing – Just saved me a lot of time speaking to my printer IT support!

  • http://www.hightechdad.com hightechdad

    It is definitely possible that it is stuck within the print server
    queue. Unfortunately, I don’t have an environment to test that. Let us
    know what you eventually figure out.

  • Karen

    You are my hero! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I am bookmarking your address for future reference.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1841844536 Kyle Andrew Hartman

    it wont allow me to delete the files in the qeue after i got to windowssystem32……. that address. it says they r open in spoolsv.exe which is not open

  • http://www.hightechdad.com hightechdad

    Have you rebooted? Are you logged in as admin?

  • Holly Dunn

    Thank you! This was perfect and your directions were precise and easy to follow. Phew!

  • Knowbody

    OMG that worked . my system is vista home, i followed and found everything, and it deleted the stuck doc, superduperwooperman…thankYOU

  • Pobedina1750

    My system is Windows Vista Home.
    In my case using only 2 steps was enough for fully deleting the document from the queue
    and restart PC after that.
    I am bookmarking your address for future reference.
    Thank You very much!!
    Marina

  • Lilleo2000

    I LOVE YOU

  • Kelseyaccount

    You are amazing.  Thank you so much!

  • Barbara

    yOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW FRUSTRATED I WAS UNTIL I CAME TO YOUR ADVICE.  mAHALO FROM MAUI, HAWAII

  • Andy Taylor

    Highest of high fives for this golden nugget of knowledge!

  • kim t

    thanks you so much, you are a big help >.<

  • levlitichev

    That was super useful.  Thanks a lot!

  • Mjbuxton

    Best advice I’ve seen yet on cancelling and print document that is stuck.  Thanks so much!

  • Domingos service

    gratos pela ajuda, pois que deu td certo. obrigado

    Domingos Service

  • jacy

    thank you it helped~~~

  • Shakuni63

     just right click on the printer which u using in Device and Printer and select Troubleshoot.

  • Infamousfiddler

    Auuugh, thank you.  I was trying to reinstall my printer driver and this old “deleting” document was giving me so much trouble.  Thank you so much.

  • Mabsnk4

    I restarted my laptop and it worked Lol :P

  • MJC

    Wow, amazing, didn’t think i was going to figure that out, but it seems to have worked. Hopefully I’ll be able to print now. Thanks so much for sharing!!!!!!!

  • Me

    Do not follow this persons advice – you will never be able to print again!!!!!!!!! I followed to the letter and now I really regret it

  • Carnur

    thanks, that worked, we had a document waiting to be printed from a printer that we no longer had but couldn’t get rid, because of this it was crashing our computer when we tried to print to another printer – all works now

  • Madhup Bhatnagar

    It worked magically!!! I was struggling to delete that stucked document with all Administrator permissions and through different machines on LAN. But finally, your solutions helped and all the users could start using this printer again.

  • Jdeyemom

    Thank you!!!

  • Grumps

    Brilliant. It worked as written. Many, many thanks!!

  • Claudia

    Thank you ! Problem solved and I am able to print again !

  • Tony

    Excellent, I know ) about computers and this exactually fixed my problem, tks.

  • SACHIN KADAM

    THANK YOU

  • Debi

    it worked! I feel like a genius, but then, could not have done it on my own. Thank you!!!!!!!!

  • Clake

    Wow! It worked! I had been struggling with this for days before finding these instructions. I will definitely bookmark this page in case this should happen again. It just took me a little while to find Adminitrative Tools, because on my version of Vista I had to go to Start, Control Panel, System & Maintenance, and then Administrative Tools, and; Services. Thanks so much! Appreciate it!

  • Lewis

    There are a few extra printer troubleshooting steps here that I found useful: http://public.madeinengland.co.nz/printer-stuck-on-printing-deleting-spooling-and-wont-cancel/

  • http://www.facebook.com/richard.ross.121 Richard Ross

    God bless you hi tech dad. You just saved my computer and printer’s life because I was going to replace both if instead of paying someone to fix them. Lexmark was going to charge me over $100 to fix this and with your help I fixed it in minutes. NEVER BUY LEXMARK! THEY ARE THIEVES!

  • La

    The solution to unstick a document in the printer queue was great. The step by step instructions were most helpful.. Thank you.

  • kei

    Does it also work for some PDF printing application (e.g. doPDF)?
    I do a printing with doPDF and it got stuck in the printer queue. When I did the #5 step the files shown are FP00000.SHD and FP00000.SWF. What should I delete?

  • http://www.hightechdad.com hightechdad

    Not sure about that one. Test it out and let me know!

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