Manually Fixing Printer Errors

Posted by Bob, Slimware
 

This article is a guide for manually correcting errors with the print spooler service. There are several individual solutions within this guide that attempt to reconfigure or reset many of the default settings for the print spooler service that often corrects the problem. If the errors continue to persist, a tutorial for editing some registry keys associated with the spool service will be attempted. If you are not comfortable with the actions required to fix the problem, download an automated tool like SlimCleaner Plus to correct the problem. WARNING: the instructions below are intended to be followed precisely.

To begin manually fixing spool service errors, continue with the first tutorial below.

Clear the Print Queue

We should first attempt to clear the print queue as the problem may only be a simple jam. This is a simple fix and should only take a few moments.

  1. Click Start

(Windows XP)

  • Click Run. The run dialog will open. Type into the Run dialog: services.msc

  • Press Enter



(Windows Vista/7)

  • Type into the search field: services.msc

  • Press Enter



A new window titled Services will open. This window lists all the services that are running on the computer. From here, services can be stopped, restarted or disabled from restarting.

  1. Browse through the list of services and identify all services that name or describe themselves as Print Spooler. If you have a third party printer such as a Lexmark printer, there may be two Print Spooler services. There will be one for Lexmark that may have a filename like or similar to LexBce Server and there will be the generic Windows print spooler service.

  2. Right-click the Print Spooler service and select Stop from the menu that appears.

  3. Leave the Services window open but minimize it to the taskbar. Now return to the Desktop and double-click My Computer. Navigate to C:\Windows\System32\spool\PRINTERS

  4. Delete the entire contents of the PRINTERS folder but do not delete the folder itself. Deleting all files within this folder is equal to clearing the print queue. After deleting the files, close this window and return to the Services window.

  5. Find the Print Spool service again. Right-click it and select Start from the menu that appears.



After completing the above steps to clear the print queue. Try printing out a test page. If successful, there is no need to continue with the other tutorials within this guide. However, this may not be a permanent fix. It has been observed that print spool services with further underlying errors will at first print correctly after clearing the queue but may later produce further problems. You can always return to this guide to attempt a different solution if the errors persist. If clearing the print queue did not solve the problem, continue with the next tutorial.

Uninstall Printer 3rd Party Printer Management Software

Printers typically come with a CD or DVD containing driver and printer management software. This software is used to provide the printers functionality and give it instructions for completing print jobs. It is possible that this software is corrupted or out-of-date. Reinstalling the software may correct the issue.

Locate the CD containing the printer software that came with the printer. Keep this handy: It'll be needed soon. First, we should uninstall the old printer software.

  1. Click Start

  2. Click Control Panel

(Windows XP)

  • Click Add or Remove Programs



(Windows Vista/7)

  • Click Uninstall a program



The Add/Remove Programs window will appear and begin populating a list of programs installed on the computer. It may take several moments to populate the list if there are a lot of programs installed on the computer.

  1. Browse the list of installed programs and look for the printer software. The name will resemble or will include the brand name of the printer that you are using. Once you've found this software in the list, click it once and then click the Change/Remove/Uninstall button. The installer will guide you through the process of removing the printer software. If asked to remove the driver, agree to this option and continue. Once the installer is finished, close the Add/Remove Programs window and return to the desktop.

Uninstall Printer Driver Software

  1. Click Start

(Windows XP)

  • Click Control Panel


  • Click Performance and Maintenance

  • Click System. The System Properties window will appear.


  • Click the Hardware tab and then click the Device Manager button.



(Windows Vista/7)

  • Type into the search field: device manager

  • Press Enter



Completing the above steps for your version of Windows will open the device manager in a new window. The device manager lists all of the devices that are connected to the computer and provides details about each device and it's associated driver. Devices are placed into categories. Printing devices may be placed under the following categories: Printers, Imaging Devices, Other devices

  1. Browse through the list of devices within the device manager and locate the printer that you are having difficulties with. You can expand a category by clicking the + symbol next to the category. Double-clicking a device will open a new window with details about the device.


  2. Once you've found the printer. Double-click it in the device manager to open it's window. Click on the Driver tab in the new window and click the Uninstall Driver button. The uninstaller will guide you through the process of removing the driver and notify you when it is complete.

After uninstalling both the printer management software and the printer driver, we are prepared to reinstall both. Take the following steps to reinstall the software.

Reinstall Printer Management Software

If you still have the CD or DVD that came with the printer, insert it now. This disc will contain both the printer management software and the driver necessary for operating the printer. When the disc autoplays, a menu should appear with some options. Choose the option that will install the printer software. The installer will guide you through the installation process and notify you when it is complete.

If you were able to install the printer software using the disc that came with the printer or you do not have the disc, proceed to the Reinstall or Update Printer Driver section below.

Reinstall or Update Printer Driver

To install the most current driver software for the printer, go to the printer manufacturers web site and search for the printer for your make and model of printing device. Drivers are typically accessible by clicking the Support, Downloads or Drivers link that should be visible from the manufacturers home page. The driver hosted at the manufacturers web site is the most current driver for your device.

Download the driver and Run the installer. The installer will guide you through the installation process and notify you when it is complete.

If you cannot locate the printer driver software or are having difficulties installing the printer driver, there is an alternative method. You can use an automated driver update tool, DriverUpdate, to automatically find, download and install the most current driver for your printer and all other system devices.

After completing the above steps and taking the necessary action to uninstall and then reinstall all printer management and driver software, print a test page to verify that the printer is now working. If the printer is operating normally, there is no need to continue any further with this guide. If the printer is still causing errors or is not working properly, continue with the next tutorial to attempt a different solution.

Advanced Print Spooler Service Fix

The steps within this tutorial will guide you through the process of deleting certain printer files and editing certain registry keys that are associated with the printer. Use extreme caution and adhere strictly to only the steps that are provided here. Making changes to the registry can be extremely harmful to the computer if you do not know what you are doing.

  1. Restart the computer and press the F8 key continuously until the Windows Advanced Options menu appears.

  2. Select Safe Mode from the list of menu options and press Enter.

In a few moments the computer will boot into Windows Safe Mode. After you are logged in, we are prepared to delete some files within Windows.

  1. Double-click My Computer.

  2. Navigate to the file locations listed below and delete all contents within the last sub-folder.

  • C:\Windows\System32\Spool\Printers

  • C:\Windows\System32\Spool\Drivers\w32x86

Delete the entire contents of the above folders in bold but do not delete the folders themselves. After performing this step, we are prepared to edit a few registry keys.

  1. Click Start

(Windows XP)

  • Click Run. The Run dialog will appear. Type into the run dialog: regedit

  • Press Enter

(Windows Vista/7)

  • Type into the search field: regedit

  • Press Enter

Taking the listed steps for your version of Windows will open the Registry Editor in a new window. The registry editor allows the user to navigate through the Windows registry, view registry keys, sub-keys and values, and make changes to the registry if necessary. The tutorial below will request the user to Expand registry keys and sub-keys several times to navigate to the correct location in the registry. To Expand a registry key, click the + symbol next to the registry key listed in the registry editor.



Once more, editing the registry can be harmful to a computer if done incorrectly and without care. Please take caution and make only changes that are described within this tutorial.

  1. Expand HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE

  2. Expand SYSTEM

  3. Expand CurrentControlSet

  4. Expand Control

  5. Expand Print

  6. Expand Environments

  7. Expand Windows NT x86

Once in the Windows NT x86 subkey, there should be at least two keys:

  • Drivers

  • Print Processors

Any keys other than the two listed above should be exported as a backup to the Desktop and then deleted. Take these steps to export the keys...

  1. Click File

  2. Click Export

  3. Enter a name into the text box appears that you will recognize later. Example: printerkeys1

  4. Click Save

The exported keys can be restored to the registry if the current solution does not fix the print spooler errors. After exportin the Windows NT x86 key, delete any and all keys in the Windows NT x86 key except for the Drivers and Print Processors keys. To delete a key, right-click it and select Delete from the menu that appears. Click Yes when prompted to comfirm deletion.

The next set of keys in the registry that we will focus on are within the Drivers key that should have been left alone within the previous section. Expand the Drivers key to view it's contents. The registry entries for printer drivers installed on the computer are stored in the Version-x subkey or subkeys, where x is a number. Export all Version-x subkeys to the Desktop.

  1. Expand the Drivers key.

  2. Click File

  3. Click Export

  4. Enter a name into the text box appears that you will recognize later. Example: printerkeys2

  5. Click Save

After exporting the Version-x subkeys, expand each Version-x subkey and delete any and all contents of each Version-x subkey. To delete, right-click an entry and select Delete from the menu that appears. Click Yes when prompted to cofirm deletion.

After the Version-x subkey contents have been deleted, we need to back up a few steps to a key that was previously expanded. Look back up the tree of keys for:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print\Monitors

Now in the above registry location there should only be these subkeys for the default print monitors:

  • BJ Language Monitor

  • Local Port

  • PJL Language Monitor

  • Standard TCP/IP Port

  • USB Monitor

Any subkeys other than the ones listed should be exported to the Desktop and deleted. To export these keys for backup, take the following steps...

  1. Click File

  2. Click Export

  3. Enter a name into the text box appears that you will recognize later. Example: printerkeys3

  4. Click Save

After exporting the key, delete all keys other than the ones listed above. To delete a key: right-click an entry and select Delete from the menu that appears. Click Yes when prompted to cofirm deletion.

This concludes the changes to be made to the Windows registry. Exit the registry editor.

Now, disconnect the printer from the computer if it is not already. Reboot the computer normally and log-in to Windows.

Verify Print Spooler Service

We will now verify that the Print Spooler service is enabled and running.

  1. Click Start

(Windows XP)

  • Click Run. The run dialog will open. Type into the Run dialog: services.msc

  • Press Enter



(Windows Vista/7)

  • Type into the search field: services.msc

  • Press Enter



A new window titled Services will open. This window lists all the services that are running on the computer. From here, services can be stopped, restarted or disabled from restarting.

  1. Browse the list for the Print Spooler service. Once found, double-click the service to open a new window.

  2. Make sure that the service is configured to Automatic on the drop-down menu next to Startup.

  3. If the service is Stopped press the Start button to enable it. If the service has already been started and is configured to startup automatically, exit this window.

After verifying that the Print Spooler service is enabled, reconnect the printer and begin Windows Add Printer Wizard. Take the following steps to complete this action...

  1. Click Start

  2. Click Printers and Faxes or Devices and Printers

  3. Click Add a printer. The Add Printer Wizard will open in a new window.

The wizard will guide you through the process of adding a new printer to Windows. It will notify you once it is complete. After doing this, print a test page to see if the printer is working. The collective solutions within this guide should have solved any and all errors that you were experiencing with your printer. If you experience any further errors in the future, you can refer to this guide again.

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