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, trying to print and getting the document stuck in the queue can be frustrating. Also, if you try to cancel the job, it will stay stuck 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 service spools print jobs and handle 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 printer issue by resetting the print spooler on the computer using the Services console or Command Prompt.

This guide will teach you the steps to fix the print spooler on Windows 10 to fix a printer. (See also this video tutorial to complete this task.)

Fix print spooler from 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

  4. Click the General tab.

  5. Click the Stop button.

    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”) 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

  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.

Fix print spooler from Command Prompt

To fix print spooler problems from 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, 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

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, so you should be able to 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 temporarily disabling the service using Stop-Service -Name Spooler -Force and Set-Service -Name Spooler -StartupType Disabled PowerShell commands 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 disable 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.

Update December 9, 2022: This guide has been revised to ensure that the steps are still accurate.