Print spooler service is not running – restart, stop or delete print jobs

In this guide, we talk about what a print spooler is? We give instructions on how to delete a print job from the printer spooler queue and advise how to restart the printer spooler service if it is not running.

Print Spooler

What is the printer spooler?

The printer spooler is a software application service which manages how print jobs are sent to the printer. A bit like a bouncer outside a nightclub manages the people going into the club. The print spooler manages the items to be printed, keeping an orderly queue and sending them one at a time to the printer.

Additionally, the printer spooler loads the correct driver and allows the user to see a detailed list of the queued print jobs. From here the user can manage the list by pausing, deleting, restarting etc.

Microsoft defines the print spooler as..

‘The primary component of the printing interface is the print spooler. The print spooler is an executable file that manages the printing process. Management of printing involves retrieving the location of the correct printer driver, loading that driver, spooling high-level function calls into a print job, scheduling the print job for printing, and so on.’

For more information from Microsoft click here

How to delete a print job from the printer spooler queue

Every so often a print job gets stuck in the queue. The stuck job prevents further items sent to print from printing. There are a number of reasons why could happen, the print job is still buffering when it was sent to print, driver issues, corruption etc.

There are instructions below on how to delete a stuck job from the print queue.

For Windows 7 users

  1. Press the Windows key to activate the text box on the taskbar
  2. Type Printers in the text box on the taskbar and press Enter to select Devices and Printers
  3. Right-click the printer name 
  4. Select See what’s printing
  5. The printer queue window will open
  6. Right-click the print job name at the top and any print jobs that show as not responding
  7. Select Cancel
  8. The item should disappear. If an alert box appears and asks you to confirm. Click Yes
  9. Repeat until there are no jobs with a not responding status
  10. Try printing.

For Windows 10 users

  1. Press the Windows key to activate the text box on the taskbar
  2. Type Printers in the text box on the taskbar and press Enter
  3. Left-click the printer name you are trying to print to
  4. Select Manage
  5. Click the Open print queue button
  6. The printer queue window will open displaying the list of print jobs
  7. Right-click the print job at the top or any print jobs that show as not responding
  8. Select Cancel
  9. The item should disappear. If an alert box appears and asks you to confirm. Click Yes
  10. Repeat until there are no jobs with a not responding status
  11. Try printing.

How to restart the printer spooler and check it is switched on

Under normal circumstances, you can simply open the print queue, highlight the stuck job and then click delete. However, there are times when you might have to stop the print spooler to be able to remove the stuck item.

There are instructions below on how to stop and restart the printer spooler service.

How to restart the printer spooler.

  1. Press the Windows key and the letter at the same time
  2. A run box will appear. Type Services.msc in the run box  and press Enter
  3. The services window will open
  4. Scroll down until you see Print Spooler in the name section
  5. Double-click Print Spooler and a new window will open
  6. Select startup type as Automatic
  7. Under Service Status section. Click the Stop button. 
  8. Wait a few seconds and then under Service Status section. Click the Start button. 
  9. Click Ok to close the window
  10. Delete all print jobs from the printer queue as shown in the above section.
  11. Try printing

How to restart the print spooler with CMD (Command Prompt)

If you would prefer to use the Command Prompt to stop and restart the print spooler then the below instructions also allow you to do this.

  1. Press the Windows key to activate the text box on the taskbar
  2. Type CMD in the text box on the taskbar
  3. The Command Prompt icon will appear above the text box as shown below.

  1. Right Click the command prompt icon
  2. Select run as administrator as shown below

Print spooler

  1. You will be asked to confirm you want to allow this app to make changes to your device, select yes
  2. The Command Prompt window will open as shown below

 

  1. Type net stop spooler and press enter
  2. You will see confirmation that the print spooler has stopped as shown below

  1. (This step is optional as often stopping and restarting the service will fix most issues, but sometimes you will want to clear the queue) To clear the print queue type del %systemroot%\System32\spool\printers\* /Q and press enter
  2. Then restart the print spooler service by typing net start spooler and pressing enter
  3. You will receive a similar confirm that the print spooler has started again.
  4. Close Command Prompt 

If the service fails to stop or start it is more than likely because you do not have enough user privileges/rights to turn the service on or off. Check that your user account has ‘administrator’ rights and that you are running the command prompt as an administrator.

Unable to delete a print job from the queue

Sometimes a stubborn error will not disappear, in this case, you can try the below instructions.

  1. Press the Windows key to activate the text box on the taskbar
  2. Type %WINDIR%\system32\spool\printers in the text box on the taskbar and press Enter
  3. A new window will open
  4. Check the folder name matches exactly and then Delete all files in the folder
  5. Try printing

Please note that if you are having difficulties with your printer we have a complete guide to fixing your printer. This step by step guide can be found here.

Also if all else fails if restart both the printer and the computer it will clear the queue.

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