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

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 28, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Making Pasted Images the Same Size as the Original

Using the Snipping tool to place an image into a Word document can produce often confusing results. This tip looks at the ...

Discover More

How Excel Treats Disk Files

Workbooks are loaded from disk files, but workbooks aren't the only type of files that Excel can load. This tip provides ...

Discover More

Reversing Cell Contents

Macros are great at working with text. This tip presents an example that shows this versatility by reversing the contents ...

Discover More

Learning Made Easy! Quickly teach yourself how to format, publish, and share your content using Word 2013. With Step by Step, you set the pace, building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them! Check out Microsoft Word 2013 Step by Step today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Printing a Document's Mirror Image

If you need to print the mirror image (backwards) of a document, you may think you are out of luck in Word. There are ...

Discover More

Setting Up Your Printer

Word allows you to take full advantage of the capabilities of your printer. Accessing those capabilities is done through ...

Discover More

Stable Layout on Different Printers

Want your document to print out the same on printers other than your own? This may be an elusive quest, as explained in ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is four minus 4?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Videos
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.