How to Forcefully Clear the Print Queue in Windows

Have you ever run into the situation where you try to print something and nothing happens? You wait for it to print, but the job doesn’t go through? There are a ton of reasons why a print job may not actually print, but one of the common causes is that the printer queue has a stuck print job.

This can happen for a number of reasons. Let’s say you tried to print something a few hours back, but the printer was off. You ended up not needing the document and you forgot about it. Then you come back and try to print. The print job is added to the queue and if the previous job didn’t get removed automatically, it will be behind that print job that never got printed.

Sometimes you can manually go in and delete the print job, but sometimes you just can’t get rid of it! In this type of case, you have to clear the print queue manually. In this article, I’ll show you the steps to clear the print queue.

Clear Print Queue in Windows

In order to get the printing services back up and running, follow these steps:

1. Go to Start, Control Panel and Administrative Tools. Double click on Services icon.

2. Scroll down to the Print Spooler service and right click on it and select Stop. In order to do this, you need to be logged in as Administrator. At this point, no one will be able to print anything on any of the printers that are being hosted on this server.

3. Next you need to go to the following directory: C:\WINDOWS\System32\spool\PRINTERS. You can also type %windir%\System32\spool\PRINTERS into the address bar in Explorer if the C drive is not the default Windows partition. Delete all the files in this folder.

This will clear all print queues (If you’re doing this on a server, it’s a good idea to first make sure there are no other print jobs being processed for any of the other printers on the server because doing this step will delete those jobs also).

4. Now you can go back to the Services console and right-click and choose Start for the Print Spooler service!

At this point, you should be able to print without a problem. If you prefer to use a script, i.e. for a server, then you can create a batch file with the commands below or just type them into the command prompt:

net stop spooler

del %systemroot%\System32\spool\printers\* /Q /F /S

net start spooler

The first and third commands are fairly obvious: they stop and start the print spooler service. The middle command deletes everything in the printers folder and the /Q is for quiet mode, which means you won’t get a prompt asking if you want to delete each file. /F will force delete all read-only files and /S will delete any subdirectories if those exist. Deleting content from this folder can never harm your computer, so don’t worry if you see some files or folders and aren’t sure waht they are for.

You can read my previous post if you want to know how to create a batch file. Then all you have to do is run the batch file anytime you want to clear out the print queue. Luckily, the procedure for clearing out the print queue is the same for Windows 8, Windows 7, Vista, and XP.

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  1. Scott says:

    This is great, but is there a way to create a script that can be run from a user's workstation to clear the queue on a remote server without having to log into that server? That's what I'm looking for!

  2. John Sainsbury says:

    Just what I was looking for. Our 2000 server has print server devices, and queues get stuck. Administering via terminal service no problem.

  3. Rick says:

    Here is a simple script i know of. Just save that as a .BAT file from notepad after modifying it to your machine. Just modify the path to your print spool, save and run it.

    net stop spooler

    del /f C:WindowsSystem32spoolprinters*.*

    net start spooler

  4. Gabrielle says:

    Thanks, I needed that path. I knew there was someplace like that out there but couldn't remember it. Unfortunately, I can't delete anything in there. The two files say they're in use when I try to delete them. Probably by the darn print queue.

  5. Aarti says:

    Thanks for the solution! Printers are all printing again!

  6. billfranke says:

    Thank you, Computer Guy, for the tip, and thank you, Rick, for the *.bat file. Just what I need. There is now always a queue of pending jobs that have already been printed — usually by my Adobe PDF printer. I can always delete them all if I do it when there are only 5 recent jobs or so, but last night (July 21) I tried to delete about 10. The one from July 9 refused to go away. Only 8 bytes, but it stayed and stayed and stayed!

  7. Mohammed Aslam says:

    Hi,

    We had print server installed on our network and some of the print queues are getting stuck on some printers. Due to this, users are not able print from these printers. If we stop the spooler service on print server other printers will be affected. Here is my question: how to delete the queues on affected printer without disturbing other printers?

    Thanks

  8. Saroj Shrestha says:

    Hi there thanks for the tips, but we have over 30 printers connected and we cannot afford to 'stop print spooler service', which would cause other printer to stop printing.

    Is there any other way to clear the jobs from the print queue, without stopping the service?

    Many thanks,

    Saroj

    Oxford

  9. Almostillmatic says:

    Exactly what I needed. Thank you for the simple solution. Printers are back up and running!

  10. Bruce says:

    Worked perfect, but I still had to go back and clear the queue one last time. You may want to add that to the write-up.

  11. Le@ndro says:

    Really great! I was tired of restarting the print server all the time.

    BIG thanks!

  12. sb says:

    You're a hero – thanks! My print queue is no longer jammed up! Added to my favourites!

  13. kalyhan says:

    I've tried this several times over the past year. Maybe because I have Vista, I am left with 2 Shockwave files in the printers folder that won't delete. Can anyone advise how to delete these two files – until then, the print spooler remains locked up. Thanks!

  14. kalyhan says:

    Found the solution from another Vista user online for Vista Home Premium Users:

    If you are on Vista Home Premium, go through the following steps to clear "deleted" print jobs from the print queue.

    1) Go to Control Panel

    2) Select System and Maintenance

    3) Select Administrative Tools

    4) Double-click on Services

    5) In the list of services, scroll down until you find one called "Print Spooler"

    6) Right-click on "Print Spooler" and select "Restart"

    7) The "deleted" jobs will disappear and any queued jobs in your print queue will print

    My printer did spit out two blank sheets of paper – but it DID work.

  15. Mary says:

    Wonderful, Kalyhan. This has saved us novices much grief. Thank you

  16. Jodi says:

    Thank you for posting this! For someone who doesn't muck around much in the Administrative tools part of the computer much, each step was clear and easy to follow.

  17. sue B says:

    This worked well on Windows 7, using HP Officejet Pro 8500A with HP Deskjet 9800 driver. Thanks!

  18. Danny says:

    Thank you man, you really helped me out. I had to print an assignment urgently and you really saved me. Really. Thanks.

  19. Ken says:

    Excellent mate, thanks. I have always wanted to know how to do that and today it was an emergency—couldn’t print a boarding pass for a flight. Quick, simple, clear and easy instructions applicable to Win7 as well. Thanks

  20. Fred Opie says:

    One further step:

    Your printer may hold files in memory. After deleting the contents of the print spool folder:

    TURN OFF YOUR PRINTER (A.C. OFF)

    Turn it back on after 30 seconds and let the printer reinitialize. This should clear the offending file(s). This was the crucial step for my system.

  21. Sfarmer1228 says:

    Perfect Fix!!! Was ready to throw my printer out the window!!

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