Printer Queue 101

macbook pro on brown wooden table

This tip started with a question from a reader:

Something happened, yesterday, that I don’t understand; and I’m hoping you may be able to provide an answer.  I had my home laptop at work and needed to print out something.  I have both my home and work printers installed on the laptop.  I forgot that the printer was set to my home printer when I tried to print.  When it didn’t print, I realized that I needed to select the work printer, so I did, and the file printed.  However, when I got home, I found that the file had printed on my home printer, as well.  My question is, “How could that happen?”  The computer and printers are not all on the same network.  I’m really puzzled by this.

This is a great jumping-off point to discuss the printer queue, which can be a source of a lot of printing problems.   When you print a document or file, it goes into the printer queue. The queue is a list of all pending jobs for your printer.

From there you can cancel, pause, or resume printing jobs. You may even be able to prioritize one print job over another. It’s an especially handy feature when there’s more than one user for a printer.

A job will stay in the queue until you cancel it. In this case, it remained in the queue until the reader got home and the computer was able to successfully connect to the printer to finish the job. This is why sometimes you’ll get the remnants of an old print job days later when you fire up a printer.

On a PC, you can view your printer by clicking the printer icon in the system tray.

If you don’t see a printer icon there, type Printers and Scanners into your Windows search box then click on the results.

Find your printer and click on it.

Then choose Open queue.

Your list of jobs will open.

Right-click on a job to cancel or pause it.

It’s important to check the queue if you’ve had printing errors or issues with something printing. Those jobs could still be stuck in there.

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