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Waiting In Line

We’ve all been there: sitting in our cars a few deep at the gate, waiting for the arm to lift and the first car to proceed. It doesn’t.

No one can advance until the first vehicle is removed from the queue. We inch backwards allowing it to back out. Order is restored.

Your computer subscribes to a similar “entry gate” system. When you send a file to your printer or an email to a friend, a queue is formed. As the saying goes: “requests are handled in the order in which they are received.”

Fortunately, we rarely notice this. We click “print” and the printing starts. We click “send” and the email is sent.

But what about when it is not so seamless?

You send something to the printer, it doesn’t print, so you send it again. Nothing. You give up, turn off your printer, and come back to try later. Still nothing.

Or you send one or more emails and, when you close your email program, it says you have “unsent” emails in your outbox. It asks if you want to send them now. You say “yes” and it tells you there is an error and they can’t be sent. Ugh.

Think back to sitting at the entry gate. Most likely a recent file you sent to the printer, or a recent email you tried to send, had an error and it is holding up every request (car) in the line.

What to do? Remove the offending file/email and the others should proceed through as scheduled.

To open the Print Queue:

  • Go to the Control Panel (on a PC) or System Preferences (on a Mac) and open the printer folder.
  • Double click on the icon representing the printer you are using, and click on “see what’s printing” or “print queue.” (This label will vary, but you get the idea).
  • Click on the first line item (it probably says “error” somewhere near the file name) and delete that file by choosing “Document” and then “Cancel Printing” from the menu.

Of course you might wish to delete more than just the first line item. Remember all the times you sent that file to the printer? Those copies all want to print now too.

To find the offending email:

  • Look on the left sidebar of your email program (near the “Inbox” and “Sent Mail”) labels and locate the “Outbox.”
  • Open the outbox and look for the oldest email (by date or time). This is the one that is holding up the line.
  • Right click on that email and choose “Delete.” If you no longer wish to send the other emails in the queue, you can delete them here as well.
  • Close the “Outbox” and exit the email program. If there are other emails waiting to be sent, you will be asked if you wish to send them now.
  • Click “Yes” if you wish to send them.

Next time you are waiting to get into the gate, assure yourself that were you at your computer, you would have more control over getting the problem resolved!