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View, Order, or Cancel Print Jobs on Windows PCs

When you print something in Windows, you’re creating a print job. That’s a good, general name for anything you print: Printing is handled by the operating system and not by individual programs. Therefore, what you print becomes a duty, or “job,” for the operating system, and not for the application you used to create the document.

View print jobs in the printer queue

Print jobs are associated with whichever printer you're using. In Windows, to view print jobs, you open the icon for the printer you’re using; the icon is found the appropriate “printers” window in the Control Panel.

By clicking on the printer’s icon, you see any current or pending print jobs.

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Print jobs don’t wait in a line. No, they wait in a queue. You can adjust items in the queue or cancel or pause printing.

To adjust an item, simply drag its icon up or down. That changes the order in which the item prints.

To pause or cancel an item, click to select it. Then from the Document menu, choose Pause or Cancel, respectively. Other items on the Document menu include Resume, which continues printing a paused job, and Restart, which can be used to reprint a document from the beginning.

Cancel a print job

About the only real reason to use a printer’s window is to cancel something sent to the printer. Sadly, the Print window isn’t effective for this task: You probably won’t see a full printer queue window. Today’s printers pack lots of memory, so the jobs slip off into the printer’s memory rather than wait in the computer’s memory.

If you see a print job looming and you want to cancel it, choose Document→Cancel. Even so, doing this doesn’t unsend any information inside the printer’s memory. Some printers can hold dozens of pages, so canceling a print job may not immediately abort the printing. That can be frustrating.

To best cancel a print job, go to the printer itself. If your printer sports a Cancel button, use it. It stops the printing almost immediately.

For a printer that lacks a Cancel button, try taking the printer off-line: Press the On-line or Select button. A few lines or pages may continue to print, but eventually the printer stops. Remove the last sheet of paper if necessary. Then reset the printer or, if the printer lacks a Reset button, turn it off.

By resetting or turning off the printer, you erase any remnants of a document in memory. That way, the unwanted print job doesn’t continue to print when you put the printer back on-line.

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