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

In General, Microsoft, Software by Michael Sheehan125 Comments

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.