Easy fix

How to fix printer spooler problems on Windows 10

When your printer refuses to print, it could be a problem preventing the print spooler from running correctly — here's how to fix the problem.

HP Deskjet 3755 wireless all-in-one printer

On Windows 10, it can be frustrating trying to print and getting the document stuck in the queue, and if you try to cancel the job, it will stay deleting forever. 

Although there could be many reasons you cannot print, such as connection problems or physical issues with the printer, it is usually an issue with the Windows 10 “print spooler.” This is a service that spools print jobs and handles the interactions with the printer, and sometimes it will stop working, even after restarting your device and printer.

If you are experiencing this problem, you can fix this particular printer issue by resetting the print spooler on the device using the Services console or Command Prompt.

In this guide, you will learn the steps to fix the print spooler on Windows 10 to fix a printer. (Also, watch this video tutorial to complete this task.)

How to fix print spooler using Services

To fix the print spooler service to continue printing on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Start on Windows 10.

  2. Search for services.msc and click the top result to open the Services console.

  3. Right-click the Print Spooler service and select the Properties option.

    Print Spooler in Services console for Windows 10
    Print Spooler in Services console for Windows 10
  4. Click the General tab.

  5. Click the Stop button.

    Stop Print Spooler on Windows 10
    Stop Print Spooler on Windows 10
  6. Use the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run command.

  7. Type the following path to the printers folder and press Enter:

  8. C:\Windows\System32\spool\printers
  9. Click the Continue button (if applicable).

  10. Select everything in the “printers” folder (Ctrl + A keyboard shortcut) and hit the Delete button to remove the contents.

  11. On the “Printer Spooler Properties” page, click the General tab.

  12. Click the Start button to restart the service.

    Start Print Spooler on Windows 10
    Start Print Spooler on Windows 10
  13. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, you can try to print a document one more time, and the printer should work as expected.

How to fix print spooler using Command Prompt

To fix print spooler problems using Command Prompt, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the top result, and select the Run as Administrator option.

  3. Type the following commands (one line at a time) to stop the print spooler, delete the printers folder content, and restart the printer spooler, and press Enter:

    net stop spooler
    del /Q /F /S "%systemroot%\System32\Spool\Printers\*.*"
    net start spooler

    Fix Print Spooler using Command Prompt
    Fix Print Spooler using Command Prompt

After you complete the steps, you should be able to send a print job to the printer, and this time the printer should work.

While this guide focuses on Windows 10, the ability to reset the Print Spooler has been around for a long time, which means that you can use the same steps on Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and older versions.

Update July 2, 2021: If you found this guide because of the PrintNightmare vulnerability, there’s not a permanent fix for the problem yet. However, Microsoft recommends disabling the service temporarily using these commands: Stop-Service -Name Spooler -Force and Set-Service -Name Spooler -StartupType Disabled in PowerShell until an update is released. Alternatively, you can disable the policy to allow incoming connections to the print server from Group Policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Printers and disabling the “Allow Print Spooler to accept client connections” policy.

Update July 7, 2021: Microsoft has released the update KB5004945 for Windows 10 21H1, 20H2, and 2004 to fix the “PrintNightmare” vulnerability. A similar update is also available for version 1909 and the original version of the operating system.

Update July 8, 2021: If the update to fix the PrintNightmare vulnerability is causing problems, you can always uninstall it using these steps:

  1. Open Start on Windows 10.

  2. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator option.

  3. Type the following command to view the update history and press Enter:

    wmic qfe list brief /format:table
  4. Check the Windows Update history of your device, and identify the update by its HotFixID and InstalledOn information.

  5. Type the following command to uninstall the update from your computer and press Enter:

    wusa /uninstall /kb:5004945
  6. Click the Yes button.

  7. Continue with the on-screen directions (if applicable).

Once you complete the steps, the update will be removed from your installation, fixing any issues with the printer.