Between the moment you click OK in the Print dialog box and the arrival of the first page in the printer’s tray, there’s a delay. Usually, it’s brief, but when you’re printing a complex document with lots of graphics, the delay can be considerable.
Fortunately, the waiting doesn’t necessarily make you less productive, since you can return to work on your PC, or even quit the application and go watch TV. An invisible program called the print spooler supervises this background printing process. The spooler collects the document that’s being sent to the printer, along with all the codes the printer expects to receive, and then sends this information, little by little, to the printer.
The spooler program creates huge temporary printer files, so a hard drive that’s nearly full can wreak havoc with background printing.
To see the list of documents waiting to be printed—the ones that have been stored by the spooler—open the Devices and Printers window, right-click your printer’s icon, and then choose “See what’s printing” to open its window.
While the printer is printing, a printer icon appears in the notification area. As a shortcut to opening the printer’s window, just double-click that icon.
The printer’s window lists the documents currently printing and waiting; this list is called the print queue (or just the queue), as shown in Figure 19-7. (Documents in the list print in top-to-bottom order.)
Figure 19-7. By right-clicking documents in this list, you can pause ...