The Printer Queue concept is introduced in Grade 10 as part of the computer hardware devices module. This post deals with the basics as laid out in the curriculum, as well as adding a practical exercise to assist you in understanding the idea in more depth.
When you print from an application, for example, Microsoft Word, the print job (the information representing the document sent to the printer) is stored on the main storage device of the computer. From there it is sent to the printer to be printed. Should the printer be unavailable to print (it is offline, out of paper, busy with another print job, etc.), the print job will be held in the Printer Queue until the printer is available and ready to print.
- Jobs in the Printer Queue can be paused, resumed and cancelled (but not edited/changed).
- You can even prioritise print jobs from certain users/devices etc. above others.
- The Operating System manages the Printer Queue.
- If a printer is shared, the Printer Queue is on the computer to which the printer is attached and installed. This also applies in the case of a Print Server on a network.
The print jobs are actual files stored in the following location on a standard Windows 10 computer:
- Navigate to: C:\WINDOWS\System32\spool\PRINTERS in the Windows Explorer
- Switch off or unplug the printer installed on the machine
- Open any Word document
- Select File » Print
- Print the document
- You will see some files appear in the folder you opened in Step 1
- Open the print queue by clicking on the icon on the Notification Area
- Right-click on the print job and select Cancel
- The files that appeared in Step 6 will now disappear from the folder