Mac Print Queue: Move a Job to a Different Printer

I decided to print some postage from for a package that I was sending via USPS. I didn’t have a printer handy, but I decided I’d try the printing function anyway. My plan? Print to PDF, and then later print that PDF with my next-door neighbor’s printer.

Unfortunately, the website doesn’t use the operating system’s built-in Print dialog. Instead, it has its own printer selector, and after selecting a printer, it’s done. The document is sent to the print queue!

You can do one reprint. So I went to my neighbor’s printer and plugged it in. Since I’d never used his printer before, my Mac had to install the drivers. When that was done, the drop-down menu on’s site still hadn’t updated. And when I tried to reload it, the whole page reloaded– and the reprint option was gone.

The only way forward at that point would be to cancel the postage purchase. But then I’d have to enter all the info again: the recipient address, package weight, dimensions, shipping type, etc. No way! I decided to investigate how I might be able to salvage the document from my print queue.

Print Queue Mac OS X Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 2.36.59 PM

The Mac OS X print queue is quite simple, but not very powerful. It has a Quick Look feature, which let me see what the document looks like. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support opening that preview in “Preview”, nor exporting or saving in any way. I took a screenshot of that window, just in case, but I don’t think the screen resolution is high enough to directly turn that into a valid print. Interestingly, the icon for the print job says “PDF” on it, so I suppose the doc is stored as a PDF internally.

I did some searching with my new favorite search engine, DuckDuckGo. I found information about how to cancel print jobs (clear the print queue) from the Mac OS X Terminal– that’s pretty interesting! And printing from a terminal session with “lpr”. I checked the man page for cups-lpd, lpq (osx), and print. While there are ways to clear the queue and see some information about it, there’s no way that I could find to directly interact with the queue.

Elliots-MacBook-Pro:~ eml$ man cancel
Elliots-MacBook-Pro:~ eml$ lpq
HP_Deskjet_F4100_series is ready <– This is my neighbor’s printer!
no entries
Elliots-MacBook-Pro:~ eml$ lpq -a
Rank Owner Job File(s) Total Size
1st eml 53 Print Job 80896 bytes <– This is the doc I wanted to print!

How could I export an item from the queue to a PDF?

I also looked for a way to reprint a doc that was previously printed with Safari, but couldn’t find anything. I tried dragging the doc out of the print queue window and into a Finder window.

Finally, I tried dragging the doc from one printer’s queue to the other’s. And that worked!

So if you printed something to the wrong printer, no problem: just drag the print job from that printer’s queue to the other printer. This even works if the other printer was just installed :)

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