The print queue is no longer visible once documents are printed but a list of files that have been printed can be found. Not highly informative, the following parameters can be retrieved: file name, type and size, account used, date and time, and printer name. Actual printed content is not visible, meaning this information is statistical in nature. Home users, particularly those with a single printer, may not consider this information helpful but small businesses can loosely control and identify excessive printing or abuse. For a business, using specific printer monitoring software will yield more data and better detailed results.
View the History
Click the "Start" button. Type in "MSINFO32" without the quotation marks, into the search box just above the "Start" button. In Windows Vista and XP, the search box contains the words "Start Search." In Windows 7, it says "Search Programs and Files."
Click one time on "msinfo" that appears at the top of the column. The System Information dialogue box will open. In the left-hand pane under "System Summary" you will find the words "Software Environment."
Click on the small plus sign (+) to the left of "Software Environment" to expand the menu. Click on the words "Print Jobs." "Refreshing Information" will appear in the right pane after a few seconds up to about a minute, depending on your system.
Adjust the column's width in the right pane by hovering your mouse over the thin vertical line that separates "Document" from "Size" at the top of the pane. When the double-headed black arrow appears, hold down the left mouse button and drag the line to read all the text in the "Document" column. Perform this step to widen each column you wish to read.
Click "File" on the tool bar at the top of this window and select "Print" if you wish to print the list of print jobs. Select "Export" to save the date to a text file. While the option exists to save the data to a .NFO data file, it is not recommended.
Obtain and install printer monitoring software, from a reliable source. Good monitoring software can track all aspects of printer usage, such as restricting time of use and the number of prints allowed per person. Trends can be charted and analyzed and customized reports can be set up and even emailed to selected people.
Set up the software according to your needs. Once the software is in place, all printing activity will be collected and summarized.
Get familiar with your software, as good printer monitoring can save toner, ink, paper, money and the environment. Print history will always be available once the software is installed.
Take a look at the "Print History" status in Windows 7 since the default setting is set to disabled. Open "Control Panel", and click on "View By" and select either "Large Icons" or "Small Icons." Look for "Administrative Tools." Select "Event Viewer," and go to "Application and Services." From there click "Microsoft," then "Windows," "Print Service" and finally, right-click on "Operational." Next, click on "Enable Log." Now you can see the events pertaining to print. Past events will not display, but future printing will show here.
Read reviews of printer monitoring software to make a good choice. Some software is scalable, allowing you to purchase only the features you need.
Without purchased software, it is tedious and time consuming to collect print data and Windows does not provide detailed or customizable data.
- Microsoft Access Help Center: Windows 7 Print History
- Microsoft: Description of Windows XP System Information (Msinfo32.exe) Tool
- Microsoft TechNet: Overview of Print Services
- Microsoft TechNet: Overview of Print Services, Windows Vista, Server 2008
- Microsoft TechNet:WIndows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2
- Frogmore: What does the "Keep printed documents" Option in my Printer Preferences do?