Cannot Delete Print Job in Windows XP and Vista

Have you ever run into the situation where you sent a job to the printer, but it just refused to print? You check the print job queue and everything looks fine, but nothing is happening?

So either nothing happens or the print job ends up failing and USUALLY just goes away. If not, you then have to go into the print job queue and manually delete the print job, otherwise it will hold up all the new jobs coming to the printer.

However, there are those few print jobs that really mess with you and simply refuse to delete! You Cancel, Delete, Remove the print job, yet it still remains in the queue. If you cannot delete a print job in Windows, you have to completely stop the print spooler service, delete the print job, and then restart the service.

print error

Note that when you stop the print spooler service and delete the print jobs, you will have to delete ALL of the current print jobs as there is no way to tell one print job from another.

Step 1: First go to Start, then Run and type in services.msc. Scroll down to the Print Spooler service, right-click on it and choose Stop.

cannot delete print job

Step 2: Now that the print spooler service is stopped, we have to go into the Windows folder where all of the print jobs are spooled and delete them. Navigate to the following directory:

C:\WINDOWS\system32\spool\PRINTERS

And delete everything inside this folder. DO not delete the folder itself, just everything inside of it. This will remove all print jobs currently in the print queue.

Step 3: Now go back to the Services window and right click on the Print Spooler service and choose Start. Go back to the Print Job queue and refresh it. You should now see that all print jobs have been removed and you can start printing again normally.

If you have a very important print job that is already in the queue behind the print job that failed, then deleting all of the jobs may not be an option for you. In that case, you can actually transfer the print queue to another printer and let it print out all the rest of the jobs in the queue. I will write another post on how to do that soon. Enjoy!

  1. catester says:

    I've found "Stalled Printer Repair" very useful. I does the same thing, but without me having to remember how to do it manually! Works fine on XP and Vista, and can be carried around on a USB stick. It's here: http://www.fantasticfreeware.com/applications/sta

  2. I hate this thing too, I’ll try this trick with Print Spooler Service next time. Thanks for this instruction.

  3. [...] for this procedure. If you require more detailed instructions, you should take a look at this post from the help desk [...]

  4. Nelson says:

    Nice post Aseem. I have seen this problem many times, and when it happens on a workstation the quick thing we do is to reboot the system. but when it happens on a print server it becomes a pain in the ass. is good to know that now we can do this.

    thanks, for the tip.

  5. paradox says:

    Thank you for the tip. You saved me from an unnecessary restart.

  6. gacoart says:

    thanks so much, this was really starting to get annoying and with this solution, I can continue doing my work without restarting!

  7. Careful34 says:

    It worked! Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

  8. upiq says:

    thank you so much! very useful! Now I can delete those stuck print jobs!

  9. Bucklesman says:

    Thank you you absolute legend. I can print again!

  10. byron says:

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    I've been fighting my uppity computer –>

    Me: "Hibernate yourself!"

    Computer: "No, I don't THINK so. The Print Spooler says that it is in charge — not you — and it does not feel like it!"

  11. bajacalla says:

    Deleted the print job, but the printer will not print anymore!

  12. Regis says:

    Good tip: if printing to a shared printer, these commands need to be executed on the print server machine i.e. the machine on which the printer is actually installed.

  13. john smith says:

    vista sucks! i've never had this problem till i used vista, & this has fixed it.. thanx to whoever has posted this fix it.. & a big f**k you to the d**k that doesnt make windows programs work properly!

  14. ianrw says:

    Thank you for this clear and very useful tip — saving us much time and frustration.

  15. Suneer says:

    Thanks for the instruction. I lost too much paper by deleting the print on half way and stuck up all the print jobs. When restart again print all the jobs.

  16. Arbab says:

    Thanks Aseem, its simply an excellent tip!

  17. Steve says:

    Wonderful. Last time this happened to me, even rebooting my computer wouldn't clear the queue, and I ended up uninstalling/reinstalling the printer FFS! Your trick is somewhat simpler and worked like a dream. ;-)

  18. IMA says:

    It didn't work for me!! I am on Windows 7, my printer is on a server, shared with my colleagues, and I tried printing a web page. It's been stuck in the printing queue saying "Deleting" for ages. I tried rebooting the computer, the printer, nothing works.

    Not even your "trick", because in the C:WINDOWSsystem32spoolPRINTERS file, there's NOTHING !

    What about throwing the printer out the window…?

  19. r_p_mitchell says:

    Brilliant advice. The indestructable document in the print queue has driven me mad on several occasions but your fix zapped it immediately. I feel sooo empowered!

  20. Dave says:

    I presume this may also apply to Vista too; under Win7 you must be running as Admin in order to delete files in the spool folder. All of Windows\system32 is only manipulated by Admin user.

  21. indra says:

    Thanks a lot. You saved me. :)

  22. alice sanders says:

    Thank you, Thank you, this fixed my problem after a week of trying to figure out what to do.

  23. Ben says:

    Thanks for the help. This still works in Windows 7.

  24. Chris says:

    Thank you a thousand times over!!! It is so frustrating when this happens!!!

  25. MeMe says:

    Thank you. This was a huge issue for me, sometimes even rebooting wouldn't fix this. Now i will not break any more printers.

  26. Marina says:

    This was one of the most useful instruction articles I have ever seen on the internet.

  27. mel says:

    I'm having complete blonde day, and your post really helped me out of a jam. much appreciated :)

  28. Emma says:

    Very helpful, thank you!

  29. Kellie says:

    This was so helpful thanks so much. excellent and clear directions

  30. Mark says:

    I spent two hours trying to delete a print job. Windows Mr. Fixit didn’t work. HP diagnostic utility didn’t work. Two minutes to follow Help Desk Geek and the problem was solved. THANKS!!!

  31. chris says:

    This is a great tip, worked like a charm.

  32. Robert says:

    C:\WINDOWS\system32\spool\PRINTERS
    The folder is empty. What does that mean?

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