Remove All Traces of a Printer Driver on Windows

16th September 2015 Printing


Please read beofre Proceeding:

Only attempt to remove the printer drivers if you're having very odd driver issues with printers in Windows 7 or Vista- e.g. you are seeing 'copy 1' 'copy 2' etc after your printer name and none of the printers seem to work.

You should first attempt to remove the device from 'DEVICES AND PRINTERS' in Control Panel -> Printers. If you are still having problems after this, then follow the steps below. Be very careful before doing this and complete a full backup of your PC first.

Also, please ensure that the device is disconnected during the troubleshooting as to prevent it from accidently being reinstalled with a damaged/corrupt driver.

Manually Removing a Printer

Ensure the Printer has been removed from Device Manager

1. Click Start, point to Programs, point to Accessories, right-click the Command Prompt, and select Run as administrator.

2. At the command prompt, type the following lines, pressing ENTER after each line

set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1
cd\%SystemRoot%\System32
start devmgmt.msc

3. In the Device Manager window select View and then Show hidden devices.

4. Now locate and expand the Printer category.

5. If you see any entries related to the device you are trying to remove right-click them and select Uninstall.

Rename the spool printer and driver files

Please navigate to the following folders and rename them by adding .old or old to current the name. If you have difficulty renaming the following folders please ensure you may boot into Safe Mode as an alternative.

C:\Windows\System32\Spool\Printers

C:\Windows\System32\Spool\Drivers\w32x86

Modifying the registry

Warning: Improperly modifying the registry may result in you needing to reinstall the Operating System. Therefore, I recommend you create a System Restore point prior to proceeding, and backup all registry keys prior to modifying them.

Removing any registry values created by third party applications

1. Start Registry Editor. To do this, click Start, click Run, type regedit in the Open box, and then click OK.

2. Locate and expand the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print\Environments\Windows NT x86

View the list of subkeys (subfolders). There should only be the following subkeys:

a.Drivers
b.Print Processors

3.Backup the registry key prior to making modifications.

a. On the File menu, click Export.
b. In the File Name box, type the name that you want to use for this key, such as WindowsNTx86regkey, and then click Save.

4. Delete all the subkeys other than the subkeys that are listed in step 2. To do this, right-click each subkey that is not on the list, and then click Delete. Click Yes when you are prompted to confirm the deletion.

Removing the registry entry for printer drivers

1. Start Registry Editor if it is not open. To do this, click Start, type regedit in the Start Search field, and then press ENTER.

2. Locate and then expand the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print\Environments\Windows NT x86\Drivers

The registry entries for the printer drivers that are installed on the computer are stored in the Version-x subkey or subkeys, where x is a number (typically 2 or 3).

3. Export the Version-x subkey or subkeys. To do this, follow these steps:

a. On the File menu, click Export.
b. In the File Name box, type the name that you want to use for this key, such as PrinterDriverRegKey, and then click Save.

4. Expand the Version-x subkey or subkeys, and then delete the printer driver entries. To do this, right-click each printer driver subkey, and then click Delete. Click Yes when you are prompted to confirm the deletion.

Remove third party registry entries for default print monitors

1. Start Registry Editor if it is not open. To do this, click Start, type regedit in the Start Search field, and then press ENTER.

2. Locate and then expand the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Print\Monitors

3. Export the Monitors sub-key or subkeys. To do this, follow these steps:

a. On the File menu, click Export.
b. In the File Name box, type the name that you want to use for this key, such as MonitorsRegKey, and then click Save.

4. Now delete any sub-keys related to the printer you are attempting to remove. To do this, right-click the subkey that you want to remove, and then click Delete. Click Yes when you are prompted to confirm the deletion.

5. Exit Registry Editor.

6. If you have a printer attached to the computer, disconnect the printer cable from the computer, and then restart the computer.

You will then want to restart your computer and reinstall any software that came with your printer. Attach it only when prompted to during setup to ensure that a generic driver is not installed. Let us know if you have any other questions or if you require further assistance.