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Deleting a Printer and its Driver

Pete Brown - 16 September 2011

Much like the fax machine, the printer is a relic of the 80s that just refuses to die. I'm ok with bringing back 80s fashion, even acid washed jean jackets, but please make printers and faxes go away.

Few things waste more IT time than printer drivers.

So, a few months back, I was messing around with my HP LaserJet 1320 printer and tried to install a legit HP PostScript driver for it. I got the driver from hp.com. After that install, my printer stopped working. I couldn't get rid of the crappy PostScript driver no matter what other drivers I installed. I tried to delete the printers and their drivers both from the Printers and Devices stage, and from Device Manager in Windows 7 x64. Still, no go. Oddly enough, the same crappy printer instances (several of them) kept reappearing on the device stage in Windows 7.

I'm going to the Maker Faire in NYC tomorrow and have to print out my ticket. Nothing like a little motivation to get this printer working.

Save Yourself with Print Management

The main problem here was that the same drivers and ports kept showing up and being selected by Windows. I couldn't override that, and I didn't know what files had to be deleted to remove the drivers. The solution: crack open the print management console: Start -> Run -> printmanagement.msc


From there, you can remove printers and more importantly, remove DRIVERS. This snap-in gives you everything the consumer-oriented device stage does not. It is from here that you can brutally hack and slash away at your crappy print drivers and clean up your system.


First, with my printer disconnected, I removed all printers. You can't remove a driver if the printer is using it.

Next, I removed the LaserJet 1320 PS driver and the LaserJet 1320 PCL 5 driver (using "Remove Driver Package"), leaving only the LaserJet 1320 PCL 6 driver - the one I want. In the words of a famous Dr Who villain: DELETE. DELETE. What you really want here is not just "delete", but "Remove Driver Package…". The latter removes it completely from the system so you can be sure it is gone.


You will be deleted.


The PCL 5 driver deleted just fine. The PostScript driver, on the other hand, refused to go. It was stuck. It was sitting there like a 2yo refusing to get their shoes on, making a pouty face, drooling on the floor. I would never hit my kids, but a PostScript driver? Hell yeah. Where's my 2x4?


Oooooh. The old "file in use" problem. Too bad that never works with cybermen, they don't care if you're actually still using your brain. You will be upgraded or deleted.

I checked under "All Printers", and nothing showed up. I checked under "Print Servers" and it was there, but just mirroring my local info. Something was still using it. Aha! The print spooler!

Kill the Spool

Right-click the computer on the start menu, and select "Manage"

Yeah. My start menu is way bigger than yours. Livin' the good life, buddy.

Inside management console, expand "Services and Applications" and select "Services". Once in there, find the "Print Spooler" service, right-click it and select "Restart". That will release all the gunk it was holding on to, allowing you to finally remove the driver package.


Go back into Print Management and remove the driver package again. This time, it should work just fine. If it doesn't, simply take the computer and printer to the nearest open window, drop it, and then drive to the store and buy a new one.



The screen may not refresh properly. I say that calmly, but when I saw the driver still in the list, the words that came out of my mouth would get me 3 years in jail in some counties.

To be sure it's deleted, exit the print management console and open it back up. Verify that the driver no longer appears.

Reinstall the Printer

I plugged the printer back in, and immediately it came up as a PCL 5 printer, using the Windows Update driver. If that works for you, awesome. It doesn't work for me. It never did. It was like HP sent me a big "Nyah nyah! I got here before you did!"

I removed the PCL 5 printer and its driver using the Print Management console, just as before. Then, I ran the HP Universal Printing PCL 6 installer, and went through the wizard. When asked for the port, I chose the "DOT4_001" port. I printed a test page and… holy crap! It printed! Yay!



Finally, I have vanquished HP and their crappy driver and driver installers! Printer driver, I shall never mess with thee again.


I was awarded this Nerd Merit Badge from @csharpfritz on Twitter. I think I earned it.


posted by Pete Brown on Friday, September 16, 2011
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7 comments for “Deleting a Printer and its Driver”

  1. Scott Bussingersays:
    Nice tip! I hadn't run into the Print Management console before. That could come in handy.

    A couple more tips for you should you ever need to remove other device drivers besides printers. I've used these instructions a few times and they've been very handy when there's a problem with the latest drivers for a USB device and you want to load an old driver.

    http://www.tech-recipes.com/rx/504/how-to-uninstall-hidden-devices-drivers-and-services/ shows you how to get at drivers for equipment that's not even plugged in at the moment.

    http://winhlp.com/node/199 Talks about how to find device driver files so you can manually delete them.

    The tool I'd love to find is one that allows you to extract just the driver files for devices whose drivers only come as a setup executible. My laptop's webcam is like that. Yuck!
  2. Maximilian Haru Radityasays:
    LOL... I like this line:

    "If it doesn't, simply take the computer and printer to the nearest open window, drop it, and then drive to the store and buy a new one."

    Anyway, thanks for this informative and useful tip!

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