How to cancel print jobs and save paper!

Posted By : Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on February 5, 2001 12:00 AM

Question

Do you have any handy hints for stopping the printer (in Windows) once it has begun so that you don't wind up with more pages than you want?

- Michel

Answer

This question was answered on February 5, 2001. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

When a Windows based print job is initiated, a number of hardware and software devices are involved. In order to know what to do to stop the print job, it is important to understand the entire process that occurs when you print.

When you click on the “Ok” button that starts a print job, typically the first thing that happens is the information to be printed is “spooled” by Windows and placed in what is commonly referred to as a “Print Queue”. Print queues are generally temporary memory spaces in your computer that involve both your hard drive and RAM (Random Access Memory). In most cases, a small printer icon will appear in your Systray (bottom right corner, next to your clock) when a print queue has been opened.

This “queuing” of print jobs is what allows us to print documents in the background so that we can go on to other tasks while the pages are being printed. Once a portion or the entire print job has been captured by the print queue, it starts to feed the information to your printer’s memory.

Different printers have different amounts of memory, which determines how quickly the computer can hand the print job off to the printer. The more on-board memory the printer has, the quicker the computer can pass on the print job. A laser printer typically has more memory than an ink-jet printer, so they can take control of the print job faster.

It is important to remember that as long as you see the little printer icon in your Systray, the computer still has a portion of the print job.

If you have a laser printer, I would start by pulling the paper tray, so that no additional paper is wasted. Wait until the current page is printed and the printer is giving you an “Out of paper” error message or indication. Once everything has stopped, turn off the laser printer, which will clear the printer’s memory. Next, check to see if the printer icon is still in the Systray. If it is, double-click it to open the print queue window that should have a list of the current print job(s). If you are unable open the printers queue by double clicking the Systray icon, click on Start/Settings/Printers and double-click on the icon that represents your printer. To clear all print jobs, click on Printer, then on the “Purge Print Jobs” option. Once you clear the print queue and close it, you can turn your printer back on. If you turn your printer back on before completely clearing the print queue, it will start sending printer information (generally invalid) as soon as it senses the printer is ready. This is what causes page after page of garbage to spew from printers, so be sure to make sure the printer queue is clear before turning your printer back on.

If the printer is an ink-jet, press the power button first which will tell the printer to shut off after if finishes its current page. This will save paper and clear the printer’s memory. Again, use the process described above to clear your computers print queue before turning the printer back on.

If the above instructions are too confusing or don’t seem to work for you, you can always turn off your printer, then shutdown your computer as this will clear the memory on both devices. In some cases, Windows may ask if you want to resume the print job that was in process when you shut down your computer, in which you should reply “NO”!

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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on February 5, 2001

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