Can't remove printer drivers in Windows 7 - The Specified Printer Driver is Currently in Use

Recently had to delete some network printers drivers on couple of Windows 7 machines.
As usual went to Print Server > [computer] > Drivers > [driver] > Remove Driver Package
After confirming removal by clicking Delete was presented with an error message:
Failed to remove driver [driver name]. The specified printer driver is currently in use.
Failed to remove driver. The specified printer driver is currently in use.
In Windows XP these kind of issues would be normally resolved by deleting printer and restarting Print Spooler service. Unfortunately in this case it didn’t work.

A quick search online revealed that often recommended solution is to delete printer from every single user profile who was ever logged on this machine. I had over 10 user profiles on this machine so wasn’t very keen to try it.

I found another, quicker way to achieve the same result. The trick is to delete the driver immediately after restarting print spooler service.

  • Open Devices and Printers and remove device(s) which is using drivers in question.
  • Open Print Management and Services management consoles side by side.
  • In Print Management right click on the driver you want to remove and click Remove Driver Package
  • A confirmation dialog will pop up
    Driver package information collected
  • In Services right click on Print Spooler and click  Restart
    Print Spooler restarting
  • While Print Spooler is restarting, move your mouse cursor to Print Management dialog Delete button and immediately after Print Spooler restarts click Delete

This worked for me every time. You have to be very quick though, a split second can make all the difference.

Comments (Legacy)  

# tender 2015-08-26 13:34
WOW!!! I can't believe this worked! After exhaustion of other effort - THANK YOU!!!
# Nate 2015-07-13 16:53
I can't get the "remove driver package" DELETE button to allow me to click on it. When I run the restart spooler it flashes 2 green progress bars but I never see them fill to 100% before going away.
# Doug 2015-03-27 21:20
Wow!!! Just like everyone else, I tried almost everything else. But this was magic! Thanks!
# BOB 2015-02-17 14:28
Seriously, how did you find that? You're my hero of the week!
Amanda Golding
# Amanda Golding 2015-02-13 19:55
I could kiss you! Have been at this for hours and was at the end of my tether. Thank you SO so very much for sharing this. Like others I wish you were higher up in the results.
Richard Mattson
# Richard Mattson 2015-02-13 14:15
My printer works, but not with evelopes, prints sideways not the long way?????

Thank you
# manoj 2015-01-21 10:34
Its working

Before doing the uninstall remove printer from control panel - devices and printers. and don't stop spooler services. than try the uninstall universal driver.
Bill Benzy
# Bill Benzy 2014-12-12 16:52
Great find. what a guess?
# Jaseem 2014-12-03 08:37
Worked like a charm...
You saved my day.... :)

smek design
# smek design 2014-12-02 04:00
NICE!!! thank you for that hack
# daman 2014-11-26 14:48
Thank you! This was very helpful!
# Ouida8 2014-11-20 15:14
Like a champ this worked first try! Thank you!!
# Morronic 2014-11-19 00:24
Worked fine thanks!

For those having trouble you must click delete as the service is RE-STARTING, not while it's closing.
# nubbel 2014-09-18 11:48
You Sir, won the internet!
# Shalp 2014-09-05 05:32
Print Management was missing in my Windows 7 laptop. To get to it:
Run(start+R)--> type 'printui /s /t2' with no apostrophes
and select the driver you want to remove.
One document was in queue for the printer I wanted to remove, so I cancelled that document first. Then did the step above.
Worked great!
# Alex 2014-08-20 18:20
Thank you! Printers are the bane of my existence.
# waxie 2014-07-16 00:26
this maybe just another bug of Windows system?
# Amy 2014-07-10 16:32
Thank you! Hallelujah, it worked.
# Cameron 2014-06-17 16:58
This worked for me! Have to be quick though :)
# Al 2014-06-07 03:34
Dude - what a hero. I lost count of how many hours I wasted on this. Thank you.
# slim 2014-04-09 00:16
thanks you for this. worked well
# Gabe 2014-03-18 18:47
Holy crap that worked!
# Mohammed 2014-02-03 10:36
Check that no jobs are in the queue for printer to be deleted.

I tried several times before realising that 94 jobs were in queue from end user, so hence it was no deleting driver and printer.

After this stop/start spooler and then successfully deleted printer/drivers .
# Ctrl-Alt-Del 2013-11-20 18:07
Great fix. also glad it fixed the other gentleman's clothing.
# Randy 2013-11-20 18:07
The font is too small.
# Aleks 2013-11-20 18:04
Get back to work!
# Jim 2013-11-20 18:02
I am glad there is resolution for this, no I can get my panties out of the knot they were in.
# Jim 2013-11-20 18:02
This fix made me want more coffee.
# Brian 2013-11-20 17:57
This fix was satisfying in more than one way...
# Vince 2013-11-20 17:49
Amazing, I am soooooo Happy
# Para 2013-10-24 17:36

Nice one mate I have been struggling here with over 100 pc's and screwed print server drivers since a power outage.
# LordJiggy 2013-10-22 23:30
Outstanding! Thanks, homie!
Sanj K
# Sanj K 2013-10-15 11:14
Worked like a charm! was stuck on this for a few days with diff work around's, none of them worked, did this 1st time and bingo!
# TJ 2013-08-22 18:00
Lifesaver, worked a treat!
this was driving me nuts - the laptop in question was unusable due to a buggy driver and this tip saved me a re-install.
The laptop did have eight users not sure having if many users is a common factor ?
Many Thanks!
# anon 2013-08-08 07:29
This worked perfectly, thanks!
Martin Tästensen
# Martin Tästensen 2013-06-01 19:40
You Sir.. deserves a medal.. had same issue as you, a computer that is being used by 8 users on different times and days and with a connection to the same printer.

and let's be honest, i don't see how i would be able to solve it otherwise.. to get the password from the users isen't really a option as it would take weeks to collect them all, to change their passwords from AD would not work either as that is against our company policies :D
# eeyore 2013-05-22 16:32
Worked on server 2012 std. Many Thanks!!
# Eliran 2013-03-27 10:09
God bless you and google :)
# elFunghi 2013-02-27 11:53
hahahaha... unbelievable.. worked also for me! :) Thanks for the tipp man!
+5 # defecta 2013-01-08 22:18
it took me a few tries to get the timing right too. I was about to call bullshit but I was just clicking delete too quickly.

Some further refinement to this that I found worked for me;
When restarting the spooler service, there is a green progress bar which runs from 0-100% a few times. Presumably the first time is for for stopping the service. On my machine it took about 1 second for the first run of the progress bar to get to 100%. Only after that first progress bar has reached 100% and the progress bar goes back to 0% could I click delete in Print Management and successfully delete the driver in question.

I hope that helps some people.
# Atul 2013-05-06 05:54
Thnx dude.... its working ... :lol:
# Eric 2012-12-11 03:55
This worked to remove the driver, but after doing this and reinstalling the new HP driver, I still have a problem printing web pages, my HP prints 25% of the page and then stops, sends the page out and then waits about 5 minutes before it prints again, most of the time with code on the first line of a page, then sometimes with a partial page. I tried lats night to print 1 picture (jpeg) and it printed 100 partial pages. Any help is appreciated.
# admin 2012-12-11 09:13
Try changing PDL to different language. i.e. if you have it set to PostScript try changing to PCL, etc. Depending on printer this may be an option in print driver settings, or you may need to download new driver.
# Eric 2013-01-05 16:27
@admin, where do I change the PDL?
# admin 2013-01-15 17:04
Depends on printer. On cheaper home printers this may be not available at all. For business machines it can be in Print Properties > Device settings. Or, as in HP case, there may be different options on driver download page.
i.e following from HP download page gives three different drivers with three different PDL options:
David C
# David C 2012-11-30 08:17
magic. thanks. :-)

i tried the XP way, net stop and then net start spooler, it just did not work. but need your steps and the right moment for the restart.

thanks heap.
# spooled 2012-11-09 12:04
tried all that to no avail as their were too many cpoies of the same printer all with jobs asigned to it. in the end went to system32\spool and deleted all files. bob you uncle devices gone problem solved
Edgardo B
# Edgardo B 2012-10-26 22:45
# Joe 2012-10-02 18:50
It worked! Been wrestling with this for hours and came across your recommended fix. Worked the first time. Just wanted to say "Thank you"
Douglas Brace
# Douglas Brace 2012-09-19 12:16
you can also easily stop and start the printer service doing the following command prompt commands...

net stop spooler
net start spooler
Milan Vydareny
# Milan Vydareny 2012-08-22 16:55
What a stunning workaround! It makes perfect sense, of course, once you are shown the way. Open the dailog box that needs the Print Spooler to gather information. Restart the Print Spooler to release the handles that prevent deletion. Click the Delete button that already has all it needs to make the operation work. Brilliant!
Jan 13
# Jan 13 2012-07-31 20:49
Wow! Works like a charm man.
Thanks for your tip!
# Phoebe 2012-07-20 01:18
Wow. It worked. Thank you!
# Flesz 2012-07-17 09:20
I can't remember how I did it last time, but there was a script that you could use that would delete a specified printer and all drivers at startup. I used it as a GPO to delete old print drivers from all PCs
# Tim 2012-07-13 17:01
Unbelievable what people find out - it works!!
# mark 2012-06-11 19:30
NICE, I'm shocked that actually worked. Nice find!
# benet 2012-05-07 12:15
Excellent !!! WORKS !!!!
thanks !!
Joe Schmoe
+1 # Joe Schmoe 2012-04-18 21:42
You da man! Took a couple tries to get the timing down, but worked like a charm.

-2 # niel 2012-03-21 13:33
Just a thought.

Tried this solution and it worked perfectly. Made me think about why it works. Could it be because the print spooler is not fully started yet? I mean, would it still work if we just STOP the print spooler, remove the driver package, and the START it again?
+1 # admin 2012-03-21 14:07
Don't think so. You won't be able to remove print drivers if Spooler service is stopped.
# TCChan 2012-02-10 06:54
It works. Thank You.
For those who don't know how to open 'Print Management'. It is under 'Start Menu' -> 'Administrative Tools'. If you don't see the 'Administrative Tools' then do this . Right Click 'Start Menu' -> Properties -> customize. Enable the display of 'System administrative tools'. And you will be able to see it.
+2 # Timothy 2012-01-24 20:44
This worked, thoughts I'd post to help forward this to the top of the results list. Absolutely Amazing! Not sure how you figured this out and or came across it, but THANK YOU for posting it!
+2 # carven 2011-12-23 05:50
Thank you thank you!
Saved me from a lot more googling. wish you were the first result though, as i spend like an hr just searching around.

Thanks again!
+12 # Jim 2011-12-08 21:01
I can't believe this worked! After exhaustion of other effort - THANK YOU!!!


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