Feb 10 2009
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How to delete or cancel hung print jobs in Windows

Filed under: Operating Systems » Windows,
 

Print jobs clogging up your queue?

It's easy enough to cancel a print job in the queue - you simply right-click it and select "cancel," after which the print job status commences to display "deleting..."  After which you normally expect the print job to cancel and disappear so you can resume printing, correct?  Unfortunately, often the print job will hang and prevent you from continuing to print anew from that same printer.  We're going to show you how to forcefully delete these pesky print jobs.

How to force delete print jobs

Fortunately, there is a way to delete the hung print job without having to save all your work, close all your applications, and restart your computer.  Here's how (note that this is intended for Windows XP systems, but a similar approach works on other systems - if this doesn't work for you reply below with your Operating System and version):

 
  • Browse to Start -> Run... and type in "NET STOP SPOOLER" (this will stop the print spooler service)
  • Browse to your windows\system32\spool\PRINTERS\ folder
  • You should see files there ending in .SPL and .SHD created around the time you tried to print - delete these files.
  • Browse to Start -> Run... and type in "NET START SPOOLER" (this will restart the print spooler service)
  • Double click the printer icon in the lower-right corner of your taskbar to examine your print job queue and browse to View -> Refresh.

Voila :)  You should see that annoying hung print job finally disappear completely and you should now be able to resume printing without having to restart your computer.

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Cancel hung print jobs

This doesn't work in the following situation:

  1. printer goes offline (different problem)
  2. on ...\Control Panel\Devices and Printers
  3. right-click offending printer (say ...HP7600)
  4. select remove device
  5. select add a printer (at top)
  6. search for printer
  7. select HP7600
  8. install driver
  9. Now printer is named HP7600 (Copy 1)
  10. HP7600 is gone, but has pending job in print queue
  11. can't get original HP7600 back, so can't delete job it had in print queue
  12. restarting spooler doesn't seem to work here
  13. finally got rid of original HP7600 by editing registry . . . works, but is a major pain
  14. Solution . . . remember to clear print queue before deleting printer

Any thoughts on how to clear print queue for a now "phantom" printer?

Those are all great steps

Those are all great steps Jim. Have you tried rebooting your PC? I also suggest checking directly with the printer’s website for troubleshooting. Please let me know if this solves your problem. -Kimberly

Windows 8 and hung printer

I have an HP printer and Windows 8. I ended up with a print job that wouldn't delete. I tried your fix for win 8 but access was denied. I finally found this little download from HP which did the trick. If you don't trust the link just go to the HP printer support for your version. You'll find the HP Print & Scan Doctor. It worked like a charm. Be warned it does delete everything in the print queue. This little program now sits handy on my desktop.

http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c02205477&cc=us&dlc=en&lc=en&product=5162506&x=0&y=0#N7345

Deleted my printers

I put NET STOP SPOOLER in the run box and it deleted my printers! Now what?

 

RTFM

Net START SPOOLER, or an alternate way:
Start --> Run "services.msc" hit enter, find print spoolser service, right click, restart.

Clearing the spool...

Worked perfectly.  Thank you!

worked like a charm.

Worked like a charm. appreciate the detailed instructions. Sometimes it's best just to uninstall the driver and then re-install again.

Did not work for me

When I try this I get:  system error 5 has occurred.  Access is denied.

Win7 64bit.

I went to services.msc and stopped the spooler there.

When  I tried to delete the files it complained about being open in firefox.  I'll try stopping FF and deleting again, but then I'll be gone from this page.

still one print job that just won't go away

Hello!  I have a print job that will not delete.  I had 5 outstanding print jobs, and the steps abover worked to close 4 of them, but there is one refusing to delete.  I get the message "This action cannot be completed because the file is still open in the Print Spooler".  That said my printer icon does show up as being open until I send something else to the printer. I have rebooted my computer several times unsuccessfully.  Any suggestions???

deleting hung print job

This is essential advice for everyone to know, even if you have a high in printer that shouldn't cause problems. I recently began selling items online and found that my laser printer was causing a number of problems. I was constantly having to cancel print jobs and could not get the printer to work. It was a wireless printer and I tried resetting the routers and everything without success. Turns out the network cable had come unhooked. Once that was fixed, I was able to print, but then another problem started that required the printer to be restarted frequently. Thankfully, I was able to cancel print jobs or I could have ended up with several copies of the same document. The first time I had a print job fail, I was lost, but I kept tinkering until I figured out how to cancel it. I can imagine though how it can be frustrating to those who are afraid to troubleshoot the problem themselves. This is great advice and definitely a needed piece, even in today's more technologically advanced world. This is a piece that will probably be needed for years and years to come. Thank you for making this available.

Hate when printers get hung up for no good reason

Thank you so very much for writing this. I am so tired of fighting with printers on this issue. I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent person, but when it comes to printers I tend to turn into a foul speaking sailor who acts like they have never touched a piece of technology in her life. The stupid thing is only supposed to print! I mean, that seems pretty simple to me in the grand scheme of things, so why is it possible that this one piece of equipment can cause full out mental breakdowns?! Oh I know, maybe because it only stops working when you have something that you have to have printed within the next hour or so! Murphy's Law.

You would think they would make it a bit easier to figure things like this out. Then again, you would think that with the push to save on resources, printer ink wouldn't be so expensive that you may as well just go buy a new printer rather than pay the high ink prices!

I have a printer in my office right now that just got replaced because I didn't know how to fix this issue and I happened to find a printer on sale. I guess now I have a back up one.

No Start or Run

Okay so with the newer version of Windows, clicking on "Start" no longer leads to "Run". So how do I get to this point now?

Windows 8

I'm assuming you're referring to Windows 8? You'll need to bring up the command prompt. There's a couple ways to do this:

  1. In the Metro UI, start typing "cmd." Windows should automatically search for and find the command prompt.
  2. Browse to C:\Windows\System32, and locate and run the cmd.exe file.

Both of these approaches will fire up the command prompt where you can enter your print spooler commands.

fixing printer problems

I couldn't even tell you how many printers have gone to the tech graveyard in my closet in the past few years. I guess I knew it wasn't actually the printer or I would have just thrown them in the trash, but I had no idea how to fix the problem on my own and it's a lot cheaper to just go buy a new printer than to call someone who is going to charge me to come over and do something simple like this. 

Thank you for writing this and putting it in such easy to understand terms. I work online all day long, but I am not as tech savvy as some of the people who work online are. I can clean my computer and do the work I need to do, but when it comes to things like this, you almost have to explain them to me like I am a toddler or something. It's sad, since I'm almost 40 years old and don't know how to do something as simple as delete print jobs. Although, that's kind of sad too since in the grand scheme of things...this is pretty new.

Good information

This article was fairly basic. Then again, I sometimes forget that not everyone is techno geek like me! So, I suppose there are probably a number of folks out there who can benefit from understanding how to cancel and delete huge print jobs in windows.

Printing has long been one of the most commonly misunderstood functions on the computer. As a technician this is without a doubt one of the top problems that people call me about. Of course, there are many aspects to printing, and they all seem to go haywire from time to time, sometimes all at the exact same time. This is even truer if the systems are all networked together and there are several users who all share a printer. This is a recipe for a lot of trouble. But I should not really complain since this is what puts the bacon on my table….and I love my bacon!

The author actually correctly points out the two main ways to delete and cancel large print jobs. The easiest way for the uninitiated is to simply save your work, close all your applications and then shut down the computer. Wait a minute or two (to actually allow the print system or server to reset itself) and then restart. Hopefully, this will solve your immediate problem. The other method is a bit more complicated and is called a forced delete. You will use the browse, start run sections of your start menu and then type in a command and delete a few files. It is actually much quicker than doing the basic method. So, the author is trying to give away some of my secrets, humph!

The author also makes the point that printing may be an outmoded form of technology. According to this reasoning, you do not need to print anything anymore, especially in an office environment which involves file sharing with friends and co-workers. If you cannot attach the file directly to email, then make a pdf file out of the document. This can be accomplished by a number of different programs such as Adobe and even Open Office. As pdf file is easily able to attach to emails and is a very secure file format. It is also able to be read and used across computer and browser platforms, including Windows, Apple and all known internet browsers.

Of course, you could also take a screen shot of the file you had originally intended to print. You can save this screen shot in a number of different file formats as well, including pdf (portable document format). Save this and share it with your friends and coworkers in a jiffy. Attach it to an email. If you like you could even post the file to a website and then direct your friends and colleagues to the site via a link.

To be honest I was quite impressed with where the author took this article. For something that started out so slow,

Reasons to canel a print job

It also occurred to me that there could be a pretty large number of reasons someone might want to cancel a print job. For example, maybe it was simply a mistake. I cannot speak for anyone but myself, but I have certainly hit the wrong key and sent a 100 or 200 page file to the printer by mistake. Nothing worse than realizing that your mistake is going to roll through most of the rest of that ream of paper you just got the other day!

Sometimes the files will indeed get caught or mixed up in the printer queue. That is a fancy way of saying the printers own internal file organizer and job allocator. I am still not sure why, but it seems like this little dude has a mind of its own and it is not afraid to exercise it! Oftentimes the queue will lock up or maybe even revert back to an old job. Sometimes it actually shows a job as printing or executing when nothing is happening.

If I were to immediately realize that I had just sent a rather large job to my printer by mistake, my sharp as a tack mind would immediately kick into high gear and understand that action must be taken fast to save the rest of my paper. All those trees can thank me later. I would simply get up, calmly walk over to my printer and push the cancel button. If that still did not work, I would turn off the printer and possibly also consider pulling the plug out of the wall or power cord socket. Of course, if you are really at a loss for what to do, then consider just pulling out all of the remaining paper. This way there will be nothing for the printer to print on. Of course, you still may hear that screeching and whining sound of your printer letting you know that you have run out of paper. Where is that darn plug again?

That is a brilliant solution, yes? Is that what you would expect from a technical genius? Yes, I thought so. Please do not clap, just send money. Seriously. Brilliant, no probably not. But it is effective at stopping your immediate problem.

Of course, from here you will still need to cancel the job in the printer queue and also delete it. The article actually gives you two great ways to go about doing this. Either one will work. Which one you will actually use probably depends upon your level of computer experience and how confident you are playing around with files that you do not use every day. Personally, I love the advice about the forced delete method. I also imagine most people will take the weeny way out and simply close everything, shut down and then restart their machine. I guess that whatever works for you is fine, as long as it is effective and does not do any long term damage to your computer.

Save More Paper

I really hate when I have this problem and it is helpful for me to finally read something that seems like it would work.  The author really made an easy task out of clearing the print queue and ultimately clearing the way for the print job to go through.  It seems like a pretty straightforward process and I think I can remember that going forward.  Big thanks to whomever put this article together.

On a more poignant note though, I thought the part at the end where the author talks about moving away from printing altogether was a far more important message.  I wish they would have had more of an opportunity to delve into how people can save more paper and use less resources altogether.  Printing costs are some of the biggest expenses that businesses and personal users incur over the course of a year.  Reducing the amount of paper one has to use as well as the costly expense of ink and toner cartridges can really make a big impact on a number of different levels.

One way people can use less paper is to switch all of their bills to an online payment method.  Many companies will allow a customer to receive their bill via email and turn off the mailing of bills all together.  Payments can also be delivered via the internet which relieves a customer from having to mail a check or credit card payment.
 
A good way to significantly cut down on ink cost is to buy a laser printer rather than the typical ink-jet printer that most people have.  A laser printer costs substantially more than your typical ink printer, but the toner cartridges last literally years under normal use.  It also uses resources far more efficiently and actually prints much quicker as well.
 
If you cannot afford a laser printer, there are several resources out there to cut down on your ink cost and one of the most useful is cartridge recycling centers.  At these shops, you can buy new ink cartridges or you can buy ones that are used and then subsequently refilled and resold.  You can also bring in your old cartridges and trade them in for refilled ones which gives most people a substantial discount.  It is a great theory and it works very well for those who take advantage of the frequent user discounts and other offers these places have.

There are a multitude of other ways to make printing a more efficient process and save yourself quite a bit on printing costs.  A little research on the internet will produce a great list of ideas you can employ to get your costs down and your efficiency up.   Just like anything, if you put your mind to making a difference you definitely can.

Thank you for helping me solve this problem

Thank you for my printer works now!

Beda, Prague, Czech Republic

Use More PDF Files

Thank goodness somebody finally wrote about how to do this!  I cannot tell you how many times I have been frustrated to the point of punting my printer across the room because I could not print and it was some stupid file jamming up the queue.  I click it.  I click it again.  I right click it.  I highlight it and select cancel.  Nothing happens.  I scream in furious rage.

Seriously, it is one of the most frustrating and relatively frequent problems I run into when using my computer and it absolutely drives me nuts.  There was one time I was trying to print a job application and something got jammed up in the print queue and I must have worked on getting it to print cleanly for about forty five minutes or so.  By the time I finally got the thing to print out, I was so upset that my hands were shaking trying to fill out the application.

I never thought of doing it the way the author described though.  I think in that case I described before I simply shut everything down and rebooted both the computer and the printer.  Once they re-initialized they finally got rid of the document that was hanging me up.  Looking back on it, I should have just done that to begin with.  However, the method the author gave us seems pretty simple and practical to do in the event that it happens again.

I also liked the suggestion that we should use more PDF files and actually just use printers less.  I think that is a phenomenal idea and, whenever possible, I will email or use the internet to communicate or send documents.  I also make every effort I can to receive paperless bills and statements.  I have a cable bill, electricity bill, gas bill, cell phone bill, home phone bill, and internet bill that I all receive via email rather than in paper.  That right there has to save a significant amount of unrenewable resources for the sake of the planet and just good karma.

I work for a company that does massive amounts of billing with their customers and every time a company employee has an opportunity to interface with a customer, they are extolling the benefits of switching to a paperless billing schedule.  Anything that the customer wants done can generally be done online.  A big part of making the transition from paper bills to an all electronic system is educating customers on how to make better use of the service.  Not everyone is comfortable with going completely without a bill coming in the mail and some are not as comfortable as others when it comes to using the internet.  But if you tell them how to make the transition easier and less intimidating, then people are usually pretty receptive.  Once they see the benefit of going paperless, it is usually set that way for life thereafter.

thanks a lot it worked on Windows 7

thanks a lot it worked on Windows 7 to cancel my stuck print job.

 

it worked for me on my hp

It worked for me on my HP with original cartridges but with injected compatible ink, he! he! he!. How's that you greedy printer makers?

This does not work

This does not works! It always errors out with the specified service does not exist as an installed service!

Nah, printers is obstinately empty

The printers directory on Win 2008 server is empty... 'show hidden' is ticked, there is nothing in the folder.

May work for others but it doesn't work for me.

printer directory empty?

If your printers directory is empty, there might not be any jobs queued within windows, and your printer itself may be the issue. If the document is successfully sent to the printer, the document will disappear from the printers folder.

One thing to be careful of, is this article is about troubleshooting problems with the part of Windows that sends documents to the printer, not your actual printer hardware. If Windows sends your document successfully to the printer and it just never comes out, there's an issue with the hardware.

There is also one other possibility other than hardware, and that is printer drivers, but that subject is a bit too complex for this article. Drivers take the document from human readable form and translate them into a language that the printer understands. If your printer drivers are wrong, it'd be like me writing this reply in German, and you only speak English. A quick google search about printer drivers would point anyone with questions in the right direction.

Load of Bollocks!!

These solutions do not even come close to fixing the main issue of why it happens in the first place. i.e. having to do this every time you print.

Thank you so much

Thank you so much. It works fine.

Files already in use

Every time I follow the instructions to delete the unwanted files it tells me that they are in use in another folder. The thing is I have nothing else open at the time...Why is this? I still can't print!

Logon in Safe Mode first. 

Logon in Safe Mode first.  Then delete the file(s).

My headache is GONE!

I have been struggling for months to get one final print job off that was hung up & I followed the directions for Windows 7 and I am now printing again!!! THANKS!!!

Thanks

This worked for me - just another reason to harsh on Windows! Thanks!

Also working on Windows 2008 server

Thanks for this great solution. It worked the first time Smiling

3 Fool-proof Steps

If it won't let you delete the file from the spooler:

  1. Browse to Start > Run > type "services.msc". Scroll down to the print spooler service, right-click on it and choose "stop". This will stop the print spooler service.
  2. Browse to the print spooler folder (C:\WINDOWS\system32\spool\PRINTERS) and delete everything inside this folder (but not the folder itself). This will remove all print jobs currently in the queue.
  3. Browse to Start > Run > type "services.msc". Right-click the sprint spooler service again and select "start". Refresh your print job queue and you should be able to print again.

This worked a treat for me, as every time I tried to delete the .SHD file it told me that the file was still in use!

Printer Probs

Thanks for the advice, I had been suffering with this problem for years and you helped me finally fix it!

This way worked immediately

This way worked immediately for me. The above recommended one did not. Thanks!

Problem Solved

I can't believe it took me months to find this simple solution. Thank you.

memo

Thanks! It really works in win7, you just need to delete the print jobs manually after deleting the .SHD file.

Windows 7 solution

In windows 7, Ctrl+alt+delete, go to services, in the bottom right, click services with the admin logo next to it, search for print spooler, stop that service, go to the folders, delete those items mentioned, then start the spooler back up.

You totally rock!

This was the only solution that worked - and it was fast and elegant and instead of mucking around in cmd mode, I had "stop service" and "start service" so it was really clear I wasn't about to blow up my print device spooling. Thank you!

Can't delete the files

I am running Windows 7 Home Premium. It won't let me delete the files because it says that they are open in the spooler!

Windows 7

This works in Windows 7, if you follow a slightly different procedure. Instead of typing "net stop spooler" and "net start spooler" in the Run box, do it at the command line with admin privileges.

Here's how: Click Start, type "cmd" in the search box. Make sure that Windows has selected "cmd" as the program to open. Press Control + Shift + Enter to run the command prompt at administrator level. Then type the commands into the command line, and it will work!

Deleting hung printer job

Worked the first time. Thanks

Thank you!

I need to get some stuff out fast and the printer was hanging at 'deleting job'. This worked great - so glad this came up in my search!

Finally!

My printer started acting up and found that my USB hub was bad. I plugged it directly into the PC and then still phantom print jobs. This was the solution for me!

now what?

We have millions of users printing on one machine, is there any alternative to this solution without affecting other users?

Half done

I have an HP DeskJet d1660. This helped me with half the problem (one printing job is canceled). But the other one is still hanging around. Sad

Works!

Worked great on Server 03.

YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!!!!!

Been sitting here for an hour and searching through other sites to fix problem. Nothing else worked and voila!!!!!!!!!!! LOVE YOU!!!!!!!

Uninstalls printer

This solution works, but now my PC doesn't recognize my printer anymore. I will try re-installing it...

Doesn't even work

Doesn't even work

Well done

Well done. Great way of sorting this out. Cheers!

very nice

great!

thanks a lot

thanks a lot..u save the day..more power.,.>! God bless

yahoooo IT WORKED

thank you VERY MUCH!!!

Thank you.

Thank you.

Use safe mode

If you can't find those files in the PRINT folder, simply log on in SAFE MODE and you'll be able to erase them Smiling Then come back to normal mode and those print jobs in the queue will be gone Smiling

Useful topic

good bro...

The best solution I have found

I think you have found the icon and the part where your print processes are in the queue. In case that is in error, don't give cancel or delete because it is going to block in registry until you change the date and restart your PC.

The best solution, is to give restart on print, and after 5 seconds you'll get a message "print in process". Press cancel and try again. If that doesn't work, you may have a problem with your printer itself - cable defect, empty ink jet color, weak wireless signal, etc.

And Yet More Gratitude

Much, much frustration finally gone! Thank you yet again. Ron

THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH

Thanks for posting. It worked!

Thanks - worked like a charm

Thanks for putting this information out for everyone to use.

Thanks!

Thanks for posting this. Very helpful!!

Thanks

Thanks, immensely. Can't they fix the issue, using some program. I have wasted so many hours, had to many a times abandon the task and get it done elsewhere.

Thanks again
Frank Michaels

Thank you very much

Really cancellation of pending printing jobs is very laborious work that it needs to restart and an excellent solution is given here. Really thank you very much.

Neeraj D. Sharma - India

wow

All my life since I was child I had this problem. OMG this is a miracle. God Bless and love.

Thanks, Lindylex

Thanks, Lindylex

It worked

Thank you for this useful information. I'm going to bookmark this page.

Easier Way

Download Unlocker, and you don't even have to cancel the spool service.

Printing Works Again!

I tried and it worked. Here is the setup:

1. I started the print job.
2. Half way trough the job the paper was gone.
3. Added more paper, tried to continue, but had a stalled print job.
4. Stopped spooler. The folder was Empty. Started spooler.
5. Opened the printer control and the job list was empty!
6. However the tray icon was showing 1 pending print job (in the bubble).
7. Right-clicked the icon and selected "Refresh".
8. The icon was gone from the tray. But the most important thing is that I was able to print again.

Not working here

My spool/printers folder is also empty. I always have hidden files showing, so that is not the problem. I even made up the little DeletePrintJobs.cmd program that MS suggests and it cannot find any files in the spool/printers folder.

What's next? Restarted computer and shut off printer. This is a networked printer.

Same here

I got an empty spool folder too. I did a search for .spl and .shd under c:\, and got nothing. I tried the following: restart the print spool service, restart windows XP, delete the printer and add it back, with no luck with any of these. The "deleting file" message is still there in the print task list. Has anyone solved this problem?

Empty Printer Folder

Did you ever get a fix for this problem? I stopped the spooler, but my printer folder was also empty. All hidden files are shown.

Thanks, I am so happy !!!

This just helped me a ton - thanks so much for the tip. What a pain to have a print queue that gets clogged and the only intuitive solution being to restart your whole system.

Quiz: Why can't MS put out a user friendly version of Windows? It simply can't. The solution? Linux baby.

THANK YOU!

Thank you very much! I have looked for a way to do this for years!

Thank you so much!

This fixed the annoying "phantom" documents that kept trying to print! Thank you so much for your article!

Helpful article

This was a helpful article.

Give me a break

Hundreds or thousands of users printing to the same machine at once? Give me a break...

Does not apply to large printing environments

This solution won't work in large printing environments as restarting the print spooler services will potentially affect hundred or thousands of users....

Is there any other better solution that doesn't rely on restarting the print spooler services?? Especially for large printing environments!

Hundreds printing to same machine

If you have hundreds to thousands of users printing to the same machine at the same time then you have other issues.

How to delete or cancel hung print jobs in Windows

I tried the remedy steps you outlined, unfortunatels the on browsing to the folder windows\system32\spool\PRINTERS\, I found it empty. I decided to continue but did not achieve success, please help me I am humiliated each time others fail to print their agent documents. My e-mail address is tmudavanhu at gmail dot com.

Show hidden files

Make sure you can see hidden files. Tools>Folder options-> View Tab : Hidden Files and folder = Show.

AWESOME! THIS HELPED ME OUT

AWESOME! THIS HELPED ME OUT A LOT!!!

thank you so much

i've been wanting to do this for years

May I...?

May I scream GRRRRREATTTTT! Years having to cope with this problem. Thanks a lot!

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