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How to Cancel or Delete a Stuck Print Job in the Windows Print Queue

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If you tried to print, but the job just got stuck in the queue without being able to cancel it, you’re experiencing a stuck print job. There’s a simple way to clear out the print queue, but it’s not always the most obvious thing. Here’s how to do it.

Note: we encountered this problem earlier today but forgot to take a screenshot of the print queue with a stuck job, so we substituted with a picture of a regular job sitting in the queue.

Clearing a Stuck Print Job in Windows

The first thing you’re going to want to do is open up Services through the start menu search, find Print Spooler in the list, and click the Stop button.

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Now open up Windows Explorer and put this into the location bar:

%windir%\System32\spool\PRINTERS

You might be prompted for UAC to allow access to the folder, which you’ll want to accept. Now you’ll see a bunch of files in the folder, and you’re going to want to delete all of them. Don’t delete the PRINTERS folder itself, just the files.

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Now go back to Services and click the Start button to start up the service again.

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At this point your stuck print job should be gone.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 12/15/11

Comments (23)

  1. Midnight

    Great tip. Thanks!

  2. Josh B.

    Now THIS is useful. Nice!

  3. Orejano

    i have a batch taken from lifehacker to do just that
    but this is something to be careful with since the spool server has a temper of it own

    @echo off
    echo Stopping Spooler
    echo.
    net stop spooler
    echo Deleting Stuff
    echo.
    del “%systemroot%\system32\spool\printers\*.shd”
    del “%systemroot%\system32\spool\printers\*.spl”
    echo Restarting Spooler.
    echo.
    net start spooler

  4. YB

    Good find HTG

  5. BarryD

    I’ve been using the free program Stalled Printer Repair by Jason Von Ruden. I’ve used it for some time now and it works great.

    http://www.fantasticfreeware.com/index.php/applications/stalled-printer-repair/

  6. More Lifehacker
  7. Sreenadh

    I use a simpler way. First, stop/cancel the print job in the queue. Then turn the printer off and on, and the stuck job vanishes. This works beautifully on Windows XP, not sure if applicable to later versions

  8. JT

    Sreenadh, tsk tsk tsk
    You know better than that…we geeks need a process that draws “Ohhhh, ahhhh” from the Computer user sheeple! Called job security :)

  9. The Unspoken

    @Orejano
    I am not really familiar with batch files but I am comfortable tinkering with them. I copy and pasted the text into N++ and then saved it as a .bat. When I ran it, it said the volume or directory was incorrect. So I hunted down the path in your post, I had to add Windows to the path. I ran it again and still got the same error.

    Then I saw that HTG had %windir% and so I changed that from your original post. Still no joy.

    Everything else in your post worked for me.

    I have Win 7 Pro. Not sure if the directory structure is different or what.

    The Unspoken

  10. WL

    Since no user has Admin right, I ask them to 1) Power off printer, 2) Restart computer, 3) Delete print jobs, 4) Verify print jobs are deleted, 5) Power on printer and print a test page.

  11. Sreenadh

    But is restarting the computer needed? I never have to do that. Just turning printer off seems to clear out the stuck jobs from the queue. (with apologies to JT for an insufficiently geeky solution!)

  12. Rege

    I use Stalled Printer Repair, a utility from FantasticFreeware.com. It is simple to use and works beautifully.

  13. Emir

    very useful tnx!

  14. Bogey

    For XP users, I have a similar batch file, but much simpler. And it has worked every time.
    Power off the printer.
    create the batch file below, saved at .bat file. (We named ours KillQueue.bat)

    net stop spooler
    del c:\windows\system32\spool\printers\*.shd
    del c:\windows\system32\spool\printers\*.spl
    net start spooler

    Power on the printer, your print queue should be empty (be sure to Refresh)

  15. Tek9

    For those creating batch files. Save a line and del c:\%winroot%\system32\spool\printers\*.* There shouldn’t be anything in that folder besides print jobs, thus all can be deleted.

  16. Roger

    This happens to me on the odd occasion, and deleting it sometimes works and sometimes not, resulting in rebooting system. This idea is better than my way, so thanks for the tip.

  17. Chang

    I got lost at the first step, the search for services. I entered ‘SERVICES’ in the search field, but nothing comes up. Can anyone help me?

    TIA

    Chang

  18. amir

    Great !!!!!!!!! I’ve been searching about it since long time ago….

  19. WL

    @Sreenadh – The restarting is needed. For some reasons, when a print job which is originated from a Terminal Server stuck, you cannot just clear it by turning the printer on and off.

  20. Little John

    I like using a batch file to clear out my print queue.
    Here is my version of a batch file.

    Rem Stop the print spooler service
    @echo off
    echo Stopping Print Spooler
    net stop spooler
    echo
    if errorlevel 1 echo error: Could not stop spooler.
    echo
    echo Erasing junk printer files
    del /Q /F /S “%systemroot%\System32\Spool\Printers\*.*”
    echo Done!!
    Rem Restart the print spooler
    echo Restarting Print Spooler
    echo
    net start spooler
    if errorlevel 1 goto nospoolerstart
    echo
    echo Try printing again
    echo
    echo Press any key to exit
    Pause
    exit

    Since I use only Windows 7, will this batch file work on other versions I don’t know. Major note, you have to run the CMD by right click and run as administrator or the batch will error out.

    :nospoolerstart
    echo error: could not start the spooler, something wrong.

  21. Bob

    Seach internt for Print Flush – 1.3 – By Brad Kovach. Best little utility that works every time!

  22. ilusha

    Great tip.Thanks :-)

  23. Art€

    I use a small portable utility Stalled Printer Repair from FantasticFreeware.com It fixes all stalled print jobs (which I had a lot of – now no more) without any fuss or bother. Just does it. Great!

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