How To Deal With Stuck Print Jobs

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 11, 2008
Updated • Sep 13, 2015
Windows, Windows tips

It happens from time to time that a print job is not processed by Windows and that it cannot be deleted at the same time; a stuck print job so to speak which will block all other print jobs from being processed.

Even a restart of the computer system will not get rid of the stuck print job which makes it one of the most frustrating experienced when working with the operating system.

There is however a fast and efficient method to remove stuck print jobs from the print queue so that printing is not blocked anymore.

All that needs to be done basically is to stop the Print Spooler service, delete the stuck print jobs manually and restart the Print Spooler service afterwards.

This can all be done using the Windows command line for maximum effectiveness or in the Windows Explorer interface for users who prefer to click their way through the process.

To use the GUI approach you tap on Windows-R, type services.msc and look for the Print Spooler service. Right-click that service and select stop from the context menu.

print spooler service

This will stop the Print Spooler so that you can delete print jobs from the queue. Keep the window open as we need it again to start the Print Spooler service.

Now use Windows Explorer to open %systemroot%\system32\spool\printers\ and delete all files that are found inside. Once that has been done it is time to start the Print Spooler service again.

This is done in the same way it was stopped.Right-click the service again in the Services manager and select Start from the context menu to start it again. If you don't do that, you won't be able to print at all. All print jobs should be gone and it should be possible to run new print jobs again.

If you prefer the command line you can run the following four commands for the same effect. It is probably a good idea to add them to a batch script as you'd just have to click on the file to execute it and perform the operation in one step.

net stop spooler
del %systemroot%\system32\spool\printers\*.shd
del %systemroot%\system32\spool\printers\*.spl
net start spooler

The script does exactly the same as the manual method. The two lines in the middle delete the print jobs, the first stops the Print Spooler service, the last starts it again on the system.

How To Deal With Stuck Print Jobs
Article Name
How To Deal With Stuck Print Jobs
The guide provides you with a solution when printing is not working anymore due to stuck print jobs in the print queue.

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  1. Pam said on July 24, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    Thank you very much, I turned the print spooler service off as you said, I couldn’t manually delete the print job that was jammed but when I turned the print spooler service back on it had deleted the jam and all working normally again

  2. Adrian said on September 14, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    A very good post! . If you do not want the deletion confirmation prompt, you can run :

    Del /Q /F /S %SystemRoot%\System32\Spool\Printers\*.*

    Explained here :

  3. bd said on October 16, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    but I can’t delete the problem file – it keeps giving the error that ” cannot delete it is being used by another person or program”

    1. bd said on October 16, 2014 at 3:09 pm

      fixed it … i stopped the spool outside of the server where the printers reside so it wasn’t really stopped. Thanks because this was really helpful!

  4. Laxman said on November 19, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Nice bat file command, it is really works for me

    Thanks a ton

  5. Shannon said on September 29, 2010 at 1:05 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

  6. Tiff said on September 25, 2010 at 3:01 am

    This fixed my printer. Im glad to learn that. Hopefully I’ll remember next time if it happens again.

  7. zagnut84 said on September 11, 2010 at 12:00 am

    If you can’t delete the files (which was the case for me) then stop the printer Pool Service, delete the files and restart the service. Works like a charm.

  8. Ingrid howard said on May 24, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    What about local printer that jobs keep getting stuck in que?

  9. Jodi Blue said on March 22, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    Wow. Thank you so much. This was so helpful.

  10. rubicstrue said on February 3, 2010 at 3:07 am

    Thanks so much for this post! I was utterly clueless how to get that damned stuck print job to clear.

  11. Anonymous said on January 27, 2010 at 12:14 am

    Whoever wrote this, thank you. You are a lifesaver my printer was backed up for the longest time.

  12. jeff said on January 16, 2010 at 2:22 am

    any chance of an explanation as to why these print jobs are sticking
    We have a couple print servers supporting around 1000 users and this happens continually. is a high profile banking environment with so much printing that can’t just bounce the spooler.
    300+ Printers are all HP and I have tried about everything
    new drivers, processor to winprint.
    Microsoft has been working on it for about a month.
    but I don’t think anything is actually broken
    I am seeing the issue stabilize when I change 3 settings on all the queues: disable snmp on each port, change print processor to winprint and set to use spooler on server as appose to print directly to the printer. have suspected a network issue but not finding any network errors on the server, printer or switches.
    any thoughts?

  13. Erin said on January 8, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    Going through the steps it appeared not to work because it still wouldn’t let me delete the stuck job…however, I “restarted” the Print Spooler and the printer suddenly began printing and the stuck job magically disappeared! Thanks for your help!

  14. tomasz. said on October 14, 2009 at 1:50 am

    didn’t work. still stuck.

  15. Jeevan said on September 14, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    This doesn’t solve the problem that I have. Printer job is still stuck.

  16. David said on December 13, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Thanks! A very informative post. Printer issues can be among the most annoying!

  17. Rarst said on December 11, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Feeling dumb, I was doing that manually for ages and never thought about making it into script. :)

  18. nobody said on December 11, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    Merry Christmas all the best !

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