My Printer Is Automatically Deleting Print Jobs

By Elizabeth Mott

Disappearing print jobs waste valuable work time.
i Jupiterimages/ Images

When you finish creating a piece of correspondence, project documentation or client presentation material, the last thing you need is for your printer to play games with you. If your file appears in the print queue's list of pending projects but never emerges on sheets of paper, your printer may look like the culprit in this unproductive disappearing act. Follow your project on its path from the application in which you created it to discover the real reason your print job automatically vanishes.

Proper Operation

Under normal operating circumstances, your computer's operating system creates a digital file that represents the content of the document you want to print in the format your printer can digest and sends the information in that file to the printer in small chunks through a process called spooling. When the printing process finishes, your computer deletes the spooled file automatically. If you see properly printed pages in your output tray, you also should see the listing for the printed document disappear from the print-management module of your operating system. If the print job disappears from that list without a printed result, it's time for troubleshooting.

Printer Driver

With the exception of photo printers that accept a camera memory card directly into a front-panel input slot for stand-alone printing, computer output hardware can't comprehend document data without help from additional software. That software consists of the printer driver you install as part of your operating system or as an individual add-on. If your driver software becomes damaged, falls out of compatibility with your operating system, or simply doesn't match the printing hardware you use, you may see many forms of unexpected behavior when you attempt to send documents to your printer, including print jobs that vanish from the output queue without a single printed page emerging from the device. On a Windows PC, you can use built-in troubleshooters to validate your driver. Right-click in the lower right corner of your screen and enter "Troubleshooter" (without quotes) as your search text. From Settings, choose "Find and Fix Problems" and look for the "Hardware and Sound" troubleshooter category, which supports printers.

Memory Problems

When you print big files, or large numbers of documents in a short span of time, you run the risk of sending more data to the printer than your computer, operating system and output hardware can handle. In these situations, you may see a range of baffling symptoms, including pages on which printing stops halfway down the sheet, jobs that stick in the output queue but never print, and projects that appear in the queue only to vanish moments later. Upgrading your computer's memory -- or your printer's, if it accepts RAM chips -- can help alleviate these problems, as can printing fewer pages from an individual file, or fewer documents, at a time.

Document Problems

Along with files that exceed your system's memory capabilities, you may encounter documents that fail to print because they contain corrupt data, rely on problematic font files, link to troublesome graphics or otherwise draw on information that bogs down the output process. Printing such a file in sections may enable you to narrow down the location, and thus the source, of the problem. If you've recently made changes to the document, try printing from an older version to see if your problems stem from the new material. In some cases, closing the document or its application, or restarting your hardware, may resolve problems that appear to stem from document corruption.

Version Information

Information in this article applies to Microsoft Windows 8. It may differ slightly or significantly with other versions or products.