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Fix Print Spooler

Every time you try to print something to your printer, you get “Print Spooler is not running” error message. When you try to add a new printer, you get the same error and also you don’t see any of your installed printers in Devices and Printers folder. Are you wondering what has caused this printing error and how can it be fixed?


Some of the related error messages could be as follows:

"Windows can’t open Add Printer. The local print spooler service is not running. Please restart the spoiler or restart the machine"

"Windows could not start the Print Spooler service on local Computer. Error 1053: The service did not respond to the start or control request in a timely fashion"

The Possible Reasons:

  • Printer driver could have been corrupted
  • Content in print spooler could have been corrupted
  • It could be incompatible print driver conflict
  • Spooler file could have been corrupted / damaged 
  • Some of the system files could have been corrupted / damaged / altered - (most probably dependencies)
This error is a bit complex one and hence, we shall be checking some of the obvious and try to rectify them. First of all, integrity of system files should be checked as corrupted / damaged spooler file could also cause this error. If the spooler file is damaged / corrupted, you will have to replace the spooler file with one from another computer or you can search Internet to get a good copy of it. Another reason could be corrupted, damaged, altered system files. You can use System File Checker (sfc) with scannow switch to check all the system files of the system. We shall be discussing each of this process in details further down in this guide. But we shall start with obvious ones first.


Method 1: Computer / Printer Restart

Let’s start  with switching off printer and computer and putting them back on as described below-

1. Turn off the printer

2. Turn off the computer

3. Turn on the computer first and then wait until it has completely loaded

4. After the computer is loaded completely, Turn on the printer

5. After the printer and computer have fully started, Go to Start -> Devices and Printers - > Right click the printer and select Properties -> click on the Print Test Page to send a test print to your printer.

6. If it prints, then the spooler service is running and problem has been rectified.

7. If it doesn't print, check the status of spooler service  follow method 2

Method 2:

Make sure there is no spooled document waiting to be printed and is stuck in the print queue. If that's the case, delete that print job from the print queue. Be aware of the fact that sometime the stuck print job is not deleted even after you have uninstalled and installed the print driver. First thing you need to make sure is that there is no print job in the print queue before uninstalling the printer driver. Follow the steps below to check and remove print jobs -

1. Switch OFF the printer

2. Browse to the following folders in your computer one by one and delete the contents inside them -

[a]. C:\Windows\System32\spool\PRINTERS  - Delete the content inside this folder
[b]. C:\Windows\System32\spool\drivers        - (I would suggest to keep a copy of the content inside this folder as you might need to restore it for any unforeseen error)

3. Now, you can switch the printer back on and check if it has started printing.

Method 3: Check the Print Spooler Status (Start / Stop / Restart Spooler service)

1. Go to Control Panel -> System and Security

2. Click on Administrative Tools

3. Click on Services

4. Scroll down the list and look for Print Spooler and check the status. The status has to read Started in order for it to work.

5. If it is stopped, right click on Print Spooler and then click Start in order to start the printer spooler service. Also, make sure the Startup type is Automatic not manual.

6. If it doesn’t want to start or isn’t listed there, your operating system might have some problem - make sure dependencies such as HTTP and RPC (i.e. Remote procedure call) is running. List of dependencies can be found under Dependencies tab of Print Spooler properties window.

7. If Status reads Started and Startup Type is set to Automatic, and still your printer won’t print, perform this test –
[a]. Open Microsoft Word and
[b]. Go to File and click on Print
[c]. Select Print to File from printer.

This will basically create a file which can be saved in your computer instead of sending it to a printer. It will ask you to name the file and allows you to save it wherever you want it in your computer. The idea is to test if the problem is within the Operating system or with a printer. If this process created the document successfully, the problem is most likely with printer.

8. If you have completed the previous step and found out that the problem is with printer, try following –
[a]. Check the printer cable
[b]. Reset the printer to factory default
[c]. You can also try to upgrade the firmware if there is new version available for that printer - proceed with caution as it needs certain level of technical expertise.

9. If print to file doesn't work, do following –
[a]. Uninstall the printer driver
[b]. Re-install it
[c]. Now, check if it works
[d]. If the issue persists, go to the next method.

Method 4: Isolate each Printer driver to identify faulty one

In this process, you are going to isolate print drivers one by one to check whether or not one of them is causing the problem.

Follow the steps below to isolate printer driver-

1. Click Start, type Print Management in the Start Search box and press Enter.

2. In the left pane - click All Drivers.

3. In the right pane - right-click on one printer driver and select Set Driver Isolation, and then click on Isolated

4. Now, start the printing job and check if printer spooler crashes. If it still crashes, change the driver isolation back to System Default (None) and continue to isolate the next driver

5. If the printer spooler doesn't crash after isolating any of the drivers, that driver should be considered the root cause of the issue and needs to be fixed.

Method 5: Replace spoolsv.exe file

If you are suspecting that the spooler file has been corrupted or damaged by virus, follow the steps below to replace it with a good copy. Also, make sure before you replace spooler files, keep a backup of these file somewhere in your hard drive.

1. First thing you need to do it to remove the printer drivers

2. Stop the Print Spooler

2. Open the File Explorer, locate two files files associated with spooler service - spoolsv.exe and spoolss.dll in system32 folder

3. Now, you need to get a good copy of these two files from another computer or from Internet

4. Now, replace these two files in system32 folder with ones you just got from another computer

5. Follow the steps in method 2 and start the Print Spooler service

6. Once the Spooler service has started, install latest drivers for your printer and check if you are able to print.

7. If the above does not work, the last option I can think of is the system restore and couple of other tips - see the method 6.

Method 6: Miscellaneous

I am listing few more random ways to fix this problem. You can try them them as you need. You need certain level of expertise to use these tips. These are just shown as a hint.

 Try System restore - (I will be posting how do a system restore soon - for now, you can search in Google)

- You could also try creating another user account in Windows and install the printer in that account and see if the problem has been fixed.

You can also try following utilities - Microsoft Spooler Fix it / HP Print Diagnostic Utility for HP printers.

- Uncheck Allow Services Under Printer Spooler Properties window-

[a]. Click Start, and Type services in search box and hit Enter.

[b]. Click on Printer Spooler, Right click Properties

[3]. Go to Log On tab and uncheck Allow service to interact with desktop and hit Apply

[4]. Go back to General tab and start the service -> click OK

Registry Edit

[a]. Click on Start and type regedit in search box and hit enter. Alternativel, press Windows Key + r to open the search box directly.

[b]. Browse through registry and locate this - HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Spooler

[c]. In the right pane, locate “imagepath” icon and double-click on it and type in %SystemRoot%\System32\spoolsv.exe

[d]. Hit Enter and Reboot the system

Caution: Be careful editing registry and working with files in system32 not to remove other files than mentioned.

- If there is a print job in the spooler queue which is stuck, it will stop any other document in queue to be printed. You will have to delete that particular job in order for printer to function normally and start printing the rest of the print job.

- It has also be observed that with some of the dll files provided with original printer software can also cause the print spooler service to crash. Most likely in this case, you will encounter the following error – “Spooler Subsystem App stopped working”. To get around this type of problem is to look on the vendor's site for updates. If there is one, update the printer software from vendor's site and most likely that might fixed the problem.

- If the spooler service keeps stopping, there is work around – What you do is to set the spooler startup type as Automatic and then set the Subsequent failures to Restart the Service while you are in Printer Spooler Properties window. You can use it temp fix until you have found the solution of the problem.