Windows 7 : Removing a Printer, Printing from Your Applications

8/30/2012 7:25:49 PM

Removing a Printer

You might want to remove a printer setup for several reasons:

  • The physical printer has been removed from service.

  • You don’t want to use a particular network printer anymore.

  • You had several definitions of a physical printer using different default settings, and you want to remove one of them.

  • You have a nonfunctioning or improperly functioning printer setup and want to remove it and start over by running the Add Printer Wizard.


The removal process removes only the printer icon in the Devices and Printers window. The related driver files and font files are not deleted from your hard disk. Therefore, if you ever want to re-create the printer, you don’t have to insert disks or respond to prompts for the location of driver files. On the other hand, if you are having problems with the driver, deleting the icon and then reinstalling the printer won’t delete the bad driver. Use the New Driver tool on the Advanced tab of the Properties dialog box to solve the problem in this case.

In any of these cases, the approach is the same:

Be sure you are logged on with Administrator privileges.

Open the Devices and Printers window.

Be sure nothing is in the printer’s queue. You have to cancel all jobs in the printer’s queue before deleting the printer. If you don’t, Windows will try to delete all jobs in the queue for you, but it unfortunately isn’t always successful.

Right-click the printer icon you want to kill, and choose Remove Device.

Windows will ask you to confirm that you want to delete the printer. Click Yes. The printer icon or window disappears from the Devices and Printers window.


As a shortcut, to print a document, in many cases you can simply right-click it in any Windows Explorer view and select Print. The document must have an association linking the filename extension (for example, .doc or .bmp) to an application that handles that file type, and the application has to support printing this way for this to work. Also, you won’t have the option of setting printing options. The default settings are used.

Printing from Your Applications

When you print from Windows applications, the internal Print Manager kicks in and spools the print job for you, adding it to the queue for the selected printer. The spooler then feeds the file to the assigned printer(s), coordinating the flow of data and keeping you informed of the progress. Jobs are queued up and listed in the given printer’s window, from which their status can be observed; they can be rearranged, deleted, and so forth. All the rights and privileges assigned to you, as the user, are applicable, potentially allowing you to alter the queue , rearranging, deleting, pausing, or restarting print jobs.

If the application doesn’t provide a way to select a specific printer (typically through a Print Setup dialog box), then the default printer is used. You can select a default printer from the Devices and Printers window by right-clicking a printer’s icon and choosing Set As Default Printer.

No Output from Printer

If your print jobs never make it out the other end of the printer, open the Devices and Printers window and work through this checklist:

  • First, ask yourself whether you printed to the correct printer. Check to see whether your default printer is the one from which you are expecting output. If you’re on a LAN, you can easily switch default printers and then forget that you made the switch.

  • Right-click the printer icon and see whether the option Use Printer Online appears. If it does, select this item.

  • Check to see whether the printer you’ve chosen is actually powered up, online, and ready to roll.

  • If you’re using a network printer, check whether the station serving the printer is powered up and ready to serve print jobs.

  • Then check the cabling. Is it tight?

  • Does the printer need ink, toner, or paper? Are any error lights or other indicators on the printer itself flashing or otherwise indicating an error, such as a paper jam?

  • Are you printing from an MS-DOS application? You may need to use the net use command to redirect an LPT port to your Windows printer.

  • If all else fails, restart Windows. It’s sad that we have to suggest this, but it sometimes does bring a zombie printer back to life.

Printer Produces Garbled Text

If your printed pages contain a lot of garbled text or weird symbols, check the following:

  • You might have the wrong driver installed. Run the print test page and see whether it works. Open the Devices and Printers window (by choosing Start, Devices and Printers), open the printer’s Properties dialog box, and print a test page. If that works, you’re halfway home. If it doesn’t, try removing the printer and reinstalling it. Right-click the printer icon in the Devices and Printers window and choose Delete. Then add the printer again, and try printing.

  • If the printer uses plug-in font cartridges, you also might have the wrong font cartridge installed in the printer, or your text might be formatted with the wrong font.

  • Some printers have emulation modes that might conflict with one another. Check the manual. You may think you’re printing to a PostScript printer, but the printer could be in an HP emulation mode; in this case, your driver is sending PostScript, and the printer is expecting PCL.

Printing Offline

If your printer is disconnected, you can still queue up documents for printing. You might want to do this while traveling, for instance, if you have a laptop and don’t want to drag a 50-pound laser printer along in your carry-on luggage. (It’s hard to get them through security.)

If you try this, however, you’ll quickly find that the Print Manager will beep, pop up messages to tell you about the missing printer, and otherwise make your life miserable. To silence it, Open the Devices and Printers window. Right-click the printer icon and select See What’s Printing. Then, in the queue window’s menu, click Printer, Use Printer Offline. The printer’s icon will turn a light-gray color to show that it’s been set for offline use, and Windows will now quietly and compliantly queue up anything you “print.”

Just don’t forget that you’ve done this or nothing will print even when you’ve reconnected your printer. You’ll end up yelling at your unresponsive printer, when it’s only doing what it was told. When you’ve reconnected the printer, repeat those steps and uncheck Use Printer Offline. This is a nifty feature, but available only for local printers, not printers shared by other computers.

Printing from DOS Applications

If you are still using MS-DOS applications, printing is one of the more problematic areas. Many modern inexpensive inkjet and laser printers don’t support output from DOS programs because they don’t have enough built-in smarts to form the character images by themselves. If you need laser or inkjet output from a DOS application, be sure that any new printer you buy uses a page-description language supported by your application, such as PostScript, HP’s PCL, or one of the Epson text formats.

Furthermore, most DOS applications can print only to LPT ports. If you want to use a printer that is on a USB port or is out there somewhere on a LAN, you must share the printer (even if it’s just attached to your own computer and you’re not using a network), and then issue the command

net use lpt2: \\computername\sharename

from the Command Prompt window, replacing computername with your computer’s name and sharename with the name you used when you shared the printer. Direct your DOS program to use LPT2. (You can use LPT1, LPT2, or LPT3, but you must select an LPT port number that does not have an associated physical LPT port in your computer.)

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