What Is “Spooler SubSystem App” (spoolsv.exe), and Why Is It Running on My PC?

If you poke around in your Task Manager, you’ll likely see an process named “Spooler SubSystem App”, “Print Spooler”, or spoolsv.exe. This process is a normal part of Windows and handles printing. If this process consistently using a high amount of CPU resources on your system, there’s a problem.

This article is part of our ongoing series explaining various processes found in Task Manager, like Runtime Brokersvchost.exedwm.exectfmon.exerundll32.exeAdobe_Updater.exe, and many others. Don’t know what those services are? Better start reading!

What Is Spooler SubSystem App?

This process is named Spooler SubSystem App, and the underlying file is named spoolsv.exe. It’s responsible for managing printing and faxing jobs in Windows.

When you print something, the print job is sent to the print spooler, which is responsible for handing it off to the printer. If the printer is offline or busy, the print spooler service holds onto the print job and waits until the printer is available before handing it off.

This process also handles other interaction with your printers, including printer configuration. You won’t even be able to see your list of installed printers if you disable it. You need this process if you want to print or fax things on your Windows PC.

Why Is It Using So Much CPU?

This process should normally not use many of your computer’s resources. It will use some CPU resources when printing, and that’s normal.

In some cases, people have reported high CPU usage by the spoolsv.exe process. This is likely due to a problem somewhere in the Windows printing system. Possible problems could include a print queue full of jobs, buggy printer drivers or utilities, or a misconfigured printer.

In this situation, we recommend running the Windows printing troubleshooter. On Windows 10, head to Settings > Update & security > Troubleshoot and run the Printer troubleshooter. On Windows 7, you’ll find the Printer troubleshooter under Control Panel > System and Security > Find and Fix Problems. It will attempt to automatically find and fix problems related to printing.

If the printing troubleshooter can’t find and fix the problem, find your list of installed printers. On Windows 10, head to Settings > Devices > Printers & scanners. On Windows 7, head to Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Devices and Printers.

Open each printer’s queue by clicking the printer and clicking “Open queue” on Windows 10, or by double-clicking the printer Windows 7. If there are any print jobs you don’t need in any of the printers, right-click them and select “Cancel”. You can click Printer > Cancel All Documents in a print queue window.

In some cases, you may want to remove all your installed printers and then use the “Add a printer” wizard to add and reconfigure them. You may even need to uninstall your printer drivers and utilities and install the latest ones from the manufacturer’s website.

Can I Disable It?

There’s no reason to disable this process. It’s necessary whenever you want to print (or fax) anything. If you don’t use a printer, it should use almost no system resources. However, Windows will allow you to disable this process.

If you really do want to disable this process, you can disable the Print Spooler service. To do so, open the Services application by pressing Windows+R, typing “services.msc”, and pressing Enter.

Locate “Print Spooler” in the list of services and double-click it.

Click the “Stop” button to stop the service and the spoolsv.exe process will be gone from the Task Manager.

You can also set ths startup type to “Disabled” to prevent the spooler from automatically starting when you start your PC.

Remember, you will not be able to print, fax, or even see your list of installed printers until you re-enable this service.

Is It a Virus?

This process is a normal part of Windows. However, some malware applications attempt to disguise themselves as legitimate Windows processes to avoid detection. The real file is named spoolsv.exe and is located in C:\Windows\System32.

To check the location of the file, right-click the Spooler SubSystem App process in Task Manager and select “Open file location”.

You should see the spoolsv.exe file in C:\Windows\System32.

If you see a file in another location, you likely have malware attempting to camouflage itself as the spoolsv.exe process. Run a scan with your preferred antivirus application to find and fix any problems on your system.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.