There is nothing worse than finding the printer without ink a few days after replacing the cartridge or toner! If the printer is also used by other people, it is highly probable that someone has used it to make a large number of prints without notifying you, finishing all the ink in a short time. To understand how many documents have been printed without our consent, in this guide we will show you how to view Windows Printer History, so as to keep track of the use of the printer and be able to check immediately how many sheets and how much ink was used during our absence. For the guide we will show you both the tools available on the operating system and a program that will allow you to trace all the printed documents.
READ ALSO: Cancel a locked or held print and clear the queue
How to view Windows Printer History
To save information about documents sent to the printer, we will need to adjust some settings on Windows. If we want to act even more simply and practically, we will also show you how to use a third-party program to keep all printed documents (very useful in the case of a shared printer on the network or not directly accessible from the computer in use).
Enable printing history on Windows
In order to obtain a history of the files printed on Windows, we will have to activate the function that allows you to save the files sent to the printer locally. Since we will keep a copy of every document or printed file, we advise you to clean up the indicated folder often, to avoid filling the available space on the hard disk or on the SSD.
To enable saving files sent to the printer on Windows, open the Start menu at the bottom left, search and open the Control panel, so let’s get on the path Hardware and sound -> Devices and printers. We identify the printer in our possession or that we intend to use for future prints, we right-click on it, select the item Printer properties and, in the new window that appears, take us to the tab advanced, so you can activate the voice Keep the printed documents.
To confirm the change, click apply and finally up OK. From now on we will have the history of printer files visible directly from the preview window (spooler or print queue).
To display this window with the history without having to print a sheet, you will just have to open the path Control panel -> Hardware and sound -> Devices and printers as seen above, right-click on the printer to be checked and then click on View print in progress. Alternatively we open the Start menu at the bottom left, search and open the program Print management, let us take the path Custom filters -> All printers then we right-click on the printer to be checked to be able to select the item Open print queue.
If we don’t want to open too many windows, we can also check the print history by opening File Explorer or Computer resources and visiting the route C: Windows System32 Spool PRINTERS, where we will find all the files sent to the printer in a non-readable format (SHD and SPL files, which are usually linked to a pair for each document sent to the printer).
Whatever the method used, we will be able to find out how many documents have been sent to the printer, so as to immediately notice the amount of ink consumed (especially with longer prints) and also obtain the date and time of the sending. Unfortunately with this method the instructions and settings sent to the printer will be stored, so we will only be able to get the name and extension of the file sent in print: we will not be able to use this method to retrieve a document printed in the past of which we do not have the original file.
Enable history with PaperCut Print Logger
If we wish to use a third-party program to monitor the processes of all computer-connected printers, we recommend that you download the free PaperCut Print Logger program.
Once installed on our computer, it will immediately begin to monitor all the prints made, so as to be able to retrieve valuable information on each printing process carried out without our consent.
To view the print history generated by the program, open the Start menu at the bottom left, look for the PaperCut Print Logger, let’s expand it and finally click on View print data. A local web page will open (it also works without Internet) with all the print processes started by the computer in use in the foreground, with detailed information on date and time of printing, user who started the printing, the number of pages, the number of copies, the printer used and the name of the document from which the print started.
As we have seen in the previous lines of this guide, displaying the print history on Windows is quite simple, but we will have to act in advance to obtain information on subsequent printing processes (we will therefore not be able to view the documents printed before activation history on Windows or the installation of the PaperCut Print Logger program). If we also wanted to reprint already printed documents, we will have to refer to the print history included in each printer (usually limited to a certain number of documents and reset each time the device is turned off).
If we want to check the level of ink or toner on our printer, we invite you to read our guide on how Check the printer ink level.
To add a new one printed on Windows, just read the steps described in our article on how Add a printer on Windows.
Do we want to print PDFs quickly and easily? To do this we can rely on virtual PDF printers, such as those described in the guide to Best virtual printers to create pdfs from documents and web pages, free for Windows.