Cancelling Print Jobs

Why is it when I go to cancel a print job, the printer just keeps on printing? Is there a way to clear out all of the print jobs I have going?

Ahh, the uncancelable printer job. I think we’ve all been there, desperately yanking paper out of the printer, frantically punching power switches, pounding on the computer with the kid’s plastic hammer (OK, maybe that was just me, but it only happened once and the doc says I’m better now).

In any event, usually the easiest way to stop a runaway printer is to double-click its icon in the system tray to open the “printer queue folder”.

Then just highlight the documents you don’t want and tap the Delete key.

Oh, and should the Delete not work, try right-clicking the documents and select Cancel from the resulting menu.

If you don’t have a system tray printer icon (YIKES!), you can open the Printers & Faxes folder from the Start Menu or Control Panel in XP. In Windows 7, just type printer into the Start search and click on the Devices and Printers link. Then, double click on the printer icon.

Then click on the See what’s printing link. This will open the printer queue folder.

Again, tapping the Delete key or right clicking and selecting Cancel from the menu should stop the print.

That should stop documents sitting in the queue from printing, and cancel the one that’s going.

If you still can’t seem to get the current doc to stop printing consider just letting it finish up if it’s small. On the other hand, if you’re printing a novel and decided that it’s the wrong font or something, you will probably want to stop before you use up a tree’s worth a paper. Here are some steps to try (getting more extreme as we go):

1. Go back to the system tray icon or the Printers folder. Try right clicking the document and canceling the job again. Sometimes your computer wasn’t paying attention and the first try doesn’t take.

2. Shut off the power to the printer. Using the printer’s switch is the best way to go for this one. Yanking the cord from the wall surprises the printer and may make a simple problem a bigger one.

3. Shut Windows down. Try restarting Windows, assuming everything you need is saved. That will usually kill any print job. If you get a warning about possibly losing a print job, acknowledge it and continue to shut down. When Windows comes back to life, you may find that it asks you if you want to dump the print job—say yes.

If none of the above work, go out and buy some stock in your favorite paper company. Oh, also, no matter how tempting it is, don’t jerk the printer cable from the back of your computer. Although a USB printer probably won’t care too much, you can blow a port if you use a parallel printer connection.


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