How do I get rid of a print job that’s blocking my printer?

I can’t print any document because there seems to be a document stuck in the queue for my printer. When I double click on the printer icon in the System Tray I can see that there is a document in the list, but I can’t delete it. The document is still there even if the computer is rebooted, and meanwhile nothing is able to print. Is there a way to get rid of it?

This is a known problem with Windows XP and I’ve hit it myself a number of times. It’s particularly bad when you realise you don’t want to print something, turn off the printer, then try to delete the job and it gets stuck “Deleting”. Normally the only way to fix this is to reboot, but in the case above, this didn’t fix the problem. Unfortunately Windows isn’t like one of these Seiko watches which you can take back to the shop you bought it when it gets stuck, you have to deal with the problem yourself. So here’s how you can delete the job manually off the queue:

  • Stop the printer queue: The first thing you need to do is stop the queue. Open a DOS prompt and type net stop spooler and press Enter. This puts the queue to sleep and enables you to access the files directly
  • Find the spool files: Point your browser at  c:\windows\system32\spool\printers and press Enter. This will show you all the files that are currently queued.
  • Clear the queue: Delete all the files in the folder. You may need to be able to see “system files” in order to do this.
  • Start the printer queue: Open a DOS prompt and type net start spooler and press Enter. This restarts the print service again and give you access to print again.

It may be tricky the first time you do it, but it’s not really that hard. I’ll tell you the truth, I wish I knew about this earlier as some time ago I was printing a catalogue for some NFL jerseys (which was huge) and I just couldn’t get rid of the job. In the end I had to shut my computer down and bring it back up again. If I had known of this technique things might have been so much easier!

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