The queue continuum


Q: For unknown reasons, the print queue on my laptop (running Windows 7) does not automatically empty after printing. Whenever I turn my computer on, it prints whatever is left in the queue. This problem also happened with my prior laptop. How can I get the print queue to empty after each print?

A: This sounds like a communication issue that probably resides with either your printer or printer cable, not your computer(s). But without direct access to your equipment, I can’t be sure. Nonetheless, here are a few suggestions that might help.

1. Run the Troubleshooter. Run the Windows printer Troubleshooter to see if it can detect and fix the problem. To do this, from Control Panel, select Devices and Printers, right-click on the problematic printer and select Troubleshooter from the pop-up menu, then follow the steps to see if Windows can help resolve the problem.

2. Disable bidirectional support. Your printer queue will clear automatically if you disable bidirectional support, but then you have a new problem in that the printer queue will no longer keep track of print jobs that fail to print properly. Depending on whether your printer has job management capabilities, this means that you may have to manually reinitiate print jobs that encounter printer errors such as paper jams. To disable bidirectional support, from Control Panel, select Devices and Printers, right-click on the problematic printer and select Printer Properties from the pop-up menu, select the Ports tab, uncheck the Enable bidirectional support button, and then click OK (as pictured below). This action will eliminate any back-and-forth communications between your computer’s print manager and the printer, so once the print job sends, print manager no longer waits for confirmation that the job was completed.


3. Confirm the printer driver. You may have the incorrect printer driver installed (or selected) for your particular printer. Uninstall the printer driver (by right-clicking on the printer and selecting Remove Device), then click the Add a printer option and follow the instructions for setting up a new printer driver, paying close attention to ensure that the driver you select matches your printer model. (This step may require reinstalling the correct printer driver on your computer from the CD that shipped with the printer or downloading the correct printer driver setup files from the web.)

4. Update the printer driver. I assume you have already tried this, but just in case, check with your printer vendor to see if an updated driver is available. This is generally done as follows: From Control Panel, select Devices and Printers, right-click on the problematic printer and select Properties from the pop-up menu, select the Hardware tab, click the Properties button, select the Driver tab, and then click the Update Driver button.

5. Replace the printer cable. Assuming you are printing through a cable, try replacing the printer cable (be it USB, RJ-45, or other).

6. Purchase a new printer. If these measures fail, then look at the situation as an opportunity to upgrade—that’s what I try to do in these circumstances.


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