Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Understanding Background Printing.

Understanding Background Printing

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 28, 2022)

Word includes a feature called background printing. When you use this feature, Word spools your document to disk, and then feeds it to the Windows printing system as fast as possible. When background printing is turned off, Word stops everything and sends your document to Windows right away.

If you are working with short documents, you will notice little difference in using background printing. If you are printing long documents, however, there can be quite a bit of difference. With background printing turned on, you can continue to work in Word even when the program is sending a long document to the printer. This can be a huge benefit. On the other hand, if you have background printing turned off, your long documents may print faster, but you will not be able to use Word while the printing is being done.

To control background printing, follow these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 or a later version display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left side of the dialog box click Advanced.
  3. Scroll through the available options until you see the Print options. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Print options of the Word Options dialog box.

  5. Note the setting of the Print in Background check box. If it is selected, background printing is enabled; if it is cleared, background printing is turned off.
  6. Click OK when you are finished.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6697) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Understanding Background Printing.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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