Print queue issues can cause printing problems in Windows 11, even if the right printer is selected. A single corrupted print request can block all other printing tasks. Clearing the print queue is often the solution. Viewing and deleting the print queue can also stop unwanted documents from being printed, saving paper and ink. This guide provides different ways to view and clear the print queue in Windows 11.

Using the Settings App

The Settings app in Windows 11 offers the easiest way to manage your print queue. Follow these steps:

  1. Launch Windows Settings by pressing Windows + I or search for 'Settings' in the Start menu.
  2. Click on 'Bluetooth & devices' on the left sidebar, then select 'Printers & scanners'.
  1. From the list of available devices, find and select the printer you want to clear the queue for.
  1. Click 'Open print queue' to view the list of pending print jobs in the Print Queue window.
  1. To delete or cancel a specific print job, right-click on it and choose 'Cancel'. Confirm by clicking 'Yes'.
  1. To clear all printing jobs, click the three dots menu (…), select 'Cancel all', and confirm your choice.

Using Device Manager

Though not as convenient as the Settings app, the 'Devices and Printers' folder in the Device Manager allows you to manage print queues in Windows 11.

  1. Right-click the Start menu and select 'Device Manager' from the list of options.
  1. From the list of devices, find and expand 'Print queues'.
  1. Right-click the printer whose queue you want to view and select 'Properties'.
  1. In the Properties window, switch to the 'Settings' tab and 'Devices and Printers Folder' button.
  1. Right-click the correct printer and select 'See what's printing'.
  1. In the small print queue window, you'll see a list of documents waiting to be printed. If there's a document you want to stop printing or causing the printing issue, right-click on it and select 'Cancel' to remove it from the queue.
  1. Click 'Yes' to confirm.
  1. To clear the entire queue, click the 'Printer' menu and select 'Cancel All Documents'. Then, click 'Yes' to confirm.

Stop 'Print Spooler' Service and Delete 'Spool' Folder using File Explorer

For an immediate fix to a jammed print queue, you can delete the temporary print job files directly from the system. These files are stored in the 'spool' directory and can be cleared out to empty your print queue instantly. If previous attempts haven't worked, it's likely because the Print Spooler service is still active. Disabling it temporarily lets you clear the queue without issues.

  1. Press Windows+R to open the Run box. Type services.msc and press Enter to open the Services app.
  1. In the Service window, find the 'Print Spooler' service, right-click on it, and choose 'Stop'. This temporarily stops the Spooler service, so no new jobs get stuck while you clean up.
  1. Once the Printer Spooler service is stopped, open File Explorer using Windows+ E. Paste this path into the address bar and press Enter to navigate to the 'Spool' directory:
  1. If you see a permission warning, click 'Continue' to access the folder.
  1. Once the PRINTERS folder is open, press Ctrl+A to select all files.
  1. Then Shift+Delete to permanently remove them. This cleans out the queue, freeing your printer for error-free printing.
  1. After deleting the files, go back to the Services app, right-click the 'Print Spooler' again, and choose 'Start'.
  1. This restarts the printing process with a fresh, empty queue.

Using Command Prompt (for Advanced Users)

For those comfortable with the command line, here’s how to clear the print queue using Command Prompt with administrative privileges.

  1. Type 'cmd' or 'Command Prompt' in the Windows Search and click on 'Run as administrator'.
  1. In the Terminal Window, type the following command and press 'Enter' to stop the Print Spooler service.
net stop spooler
  1. Once the Printer Spooler service is stopped, run the below command to clear the queue:
del %systemroot%\System32\spool\printers\* /Q
  1. Type the following command and press Enter to restart the printing spooler service.
net start spooler

Troubleshooting and FAQs

  • What if the print queue won't clear?
    If the print queue remains stuck after trying these methods, restart your computer and printer. Sometimes, a fresh start is all that's needed.
  • Why do print jobs get stuck in the queue?
    Print jobs can get stuck due to errors in the document, communication issues between the computer and printer, or software glitches.
  • How often should I clear the print queue?
    Regularly check and clear the print queue to avoid unnecessary clutter and ensure smooth printing operations.

By following these steps, you can effectively manage your print queue in Windows 11, ensuring your printing tasks run smoothly without interruptions.