How to fix "Another computer is using the printer" error in Windows?

Issue: We have a small office with all of the machines connected to the Canon printer we use occasionally. Recently, we have been unable to print anything due to the “Another computer is using the printer” error. This persists on every PC used. We are using the latest Windows versions.

Solved Answer

Printers are essential devices in both our personal and professional lives. Whether you're a student printing an assignment at home or an employee in an office preparing a business report, printers bring digital information to life. They help convert our digital documents into tangible material, a utility that spans across several industries and applications. However, as with any electronic device, printers are not immune to glitches and issues. One such frequent nuisance is the “Another computer is using the printer” error message.

“Another computer is using the printer” error often pops up when attempting to send a new document to the printer, despite no visible printing activity from other computers. A common assumption is that a pending print job from another system might be causing this. While this can be the case in certain scenarios, it's not always the situation. The error might persist even when no print tasks are lined up in the printer's queue. The incongruity between the perceived state of the printer and the error message can lead to confusion and frustration for users.

So, what causes this issue? In reality, several factors can trigger this issue. The printer’s settings might be misconfigured, causing it to falsely report that it's being used by another computer. Issues with the printer’s drivers can also lead to this error, as can network issues if the printer is on a shared network. Sometimes, the printer might still believe it's processing an old job due to a system glitch, even though no such job is present.

How to fix "Another computer is using the printer" error in Windows?

Nevertheless, rest assured that each of these issues comes with its respective solution. In-depth explanations and steps to troubleshoot these problems will be outlined in the sections below this article. By meticulously following these guidelines, users will be able to fix the “Another computer is using the printer” error and restore their printer's functionality.

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Fix 1. Review the printer queue

The printer queue is a list of documents you've sent to the printer to be printed. If a job in the queue gets stuck, it might cause the printer to falsely report it's being used by another computer. Therefore, reviewing and clearing the printer queue can help rectify this issue.

  • Navigate to the Control Panel on your computer.
  • Select the Devices and Printers option.
  • Right-click on your specific printer and opt for See what's printing.
  • If there are any pending tasks in the queue, cancel them by right-clicking and selecting Cancel.

Cancel queue

Note: some people noted that two printers might be listed, one of them using the “WS” abbreviation at the end. This is one of the main causes of the error, so avoid using this option when printing a document.

Fix 2. Restart Print Spooler

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Print Spooler is a service that manages all print jobs sent to the printer from the computer. If the print spooler runs into problems, it could incorrectly report that the printer is being used. Resetting the print spooler can help solve these kinds of problems.

  • Press the Windows key + R to open the Run dialog box.
  • Type services.msc and hit Enter.
  • Find the Print Spooler service in the list.
  • Right-click on it and select Restart.
  • Close the services window and try printing your document again.

Restart Print Spooler

Fix 3. Reinstall printer drivers

Printer drivers are software that allows your computer to communicate with the printer. If these drivers are corrupted or outdated, they might cause the printer to display incorrect error messages. Reinstalling the drivers can potentially solve this problem.

  • Right-click on Start and pick Device Manager.
  • Find your printer under the Print queues or Printers sections, right-click on it, and select Uninstall.
  • Reboot your system.
  • Once done, go to the printer manufacturer's website, find the appropriate drivers for your printer model, download them, and follow the instructions provided to install them. If you want a quicker and more straightforward solution, you can always employ DrivverFix for automatic driver updates.

Restart Print Spooler

Fix 4. Update your operating system

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Sometimes, the problem might not be with the printer or its drivers but with the operating system itself. Bugs in the system can cause false reports of printer usage. Keeping your system updated can solve these issues and also provide enhanced security and performance.

  • Type Updates in Windows search and press Enter.
  • In the new window, click Check for updates and wait till all the necessary files are downloaded.
  • At this point, you might be offered optional updates – install them too.
  • When done, reboot your system to implement new changes.

Install updates

Fix 5. Configure printer sharing settings

Some printers might be configured to allow only one computer to use it at a time. If this is the case, changing this setting to allow multiple computers to use the printer can solve the issue.

  • Go to the computer where the printer is physically connected.
  • Open Control Panel, and go to Devices and Printers.
  • Right-click on the printer, select Printer Properties, and then click on the Sharing tab.
  • Ensure the Share this printer box is checked.

Check Sharing option

Fix 6. Set as default printer

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If you have more than one printer installed on your system, your computer might get confused about which printer to use, causing the error message. Setting your printer as the default can solve this issue.

  • Navigate to the Control Panel and select Devices and Printers.
  • Find your printer, right-click on it, and select Set as default printer.

Fix 7. Clear Printers folder

The Windows operating system uses a dedicated folder to manage printer tasks. Occasionally, data or files within this folder may become corrupted or overloaded, leading to errors such as “Another computer is using the printer.” Therefore, clearing the Printers folder can help in resolving the issue.

  • Access Services.
  • Find the Print Spooler service in the list, right-click on it, and select Stop.
  • Once the service has stopped, press the Windows key + R.
  • Type %WINDIR%\system32\spool\printers and press Enter. This should open the Printers folder.
  • Delete all files within this folder.
  • After clearing it, go back to the services window, find the Print Spooler service, right-click on it, and select Start.
  • Close the services window and attempt to print your document again.

Clear Printer folder

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About the author
Gabriel E. Hall
Gabriel E. Hall - Passionate computer expert

Gabriel E. Hall is an expert troubleshooter who has been working in the information technology industry for years.

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