It is something that we have probably all experienced, we go to print a document and it fails to print or sends sheet after sheet to the printer. Turn off the printer then turn it back on again and the problem still exists. Reboot the computer and again the problem still exists.

Printer queue window

The first thing to try is to click the printer icon on the task bar (above image) which will open the print queue dialogue box and will show the offending document status as Error.

Printer error message

After a short time an error message may also pop up as per the above image. Highlight  the document with the error and right click it, or click the Document menu and from here you can click Cancel. If this action fails to remove the document from the queue then follow the procedure below.


 The first step of this procedure is to stop the Windows service that looks after the print queue which is called the Print Spooler.

Search for Windows Services

To access the Windows Services you can use the Windows search and look for Services. Click the Services app as per the image above.

Open Print Spooler Service window

Having found the long list of Services scroll and find the Print Spooler service. From here you can double click it to open the service properties window so as to stop the spooler service, or you can stop it by using the Action drop down menu.

Stop Print Spooler Service

With the Print Spooler properties window open (above image) you will see that this service is Automatic i.e. it automatically starts when Windows starts (without it you are unable to print). To clear our 'stuck' print job it is necessary to stop the service, so click the Stop button. We will start it when the print job has been deleted or it will start again when the computer is next started.

Permission warning in System32

Now using Windows Explorer go to C:\Windows\System32\spool and open the PRINTERS folder. This may generate the warning as shown in the image above in which case it is OK to click Continue to have access. In here you should see two files, one with the file extension .SPL and a second one with the extension .SHD. Each print job generates these two files and these both need deleting to get rid of the 'stuck' print job. If there is more than one print job on the go then there will of course be more than the two files in the folder so try and identify the one you need to delete by the date and time. If you delete all of them you will simply need to print the files again.

Before you can print again remember to restart the Print Spooler which is simply going back to the service as above and clicking the start button.