ARCHIVED: In Windows, what is the Device Manager, and how can I use it?
In Windows, the Device Manager keeps a listing of all the hardware devices on your computer. It is the best tool to use for troubleshooting hardware problems.
On this page:
- Accessing the Device Manager
- Printing a list of all installed hardware (Windows XP)
- Checking the status of hardware
- Removing a device
Accessing the Device Manager
Windows 7 and Vista
- From the
- Near the top of the resulting window, click
- On the left, click
- From the
My Computer. Alternatively, double-click
My Computeron the desktop.
- Under "System Tasks", click
View system information.
- In the
System Propertieswindow, click the
Hardwaretab, and then click
Printing a list of all installed hardware (Windows XP)
Note: You may need to have a hardware category or item selected before the print option becomes available.
To print a list of installed hardware from the Device Manager, in
Windows XP, with a device or category selected, under the
Action menu, select
Next to "Report Type", select
All devices and system
summary. The printout will contain all the IRQ (interrupt
request) settings, the system resource reports, a list of all devices
and their drivers, and each driver's location on the computer. (If you
plan to format your hard drive and reinstall Windows, it is a good
idea to print this first, especially if you have off-brand hardware.)
Checking the status of hardware
To use the Device Manager to check the status of hardware:
- Select the type of device from the list of devices.
- Select your installed device. If the device is not working
properly, a yellow circle with an exclamation point will appear over
it. Proceed with these instructions to find out which device(s) are
conflicting with the selected device.
- Double-click the selected device. The
Generaltab in the resulting
Device Propertieswindow will note whether the device is working properly. This window also allows you to enable or disable the selected device from all hardware profiles.
- Click the
Resourcestab to determine if there are any conflicts with the device. If the device was flagged with a yellow circle with an exclamation point, check the "Conflicting device list:" box to determine which devices are in conflict with the selected device.
Resourcestab tells which IRQ the installed device is using. Another device using the same IRQ can create a conflict, which may be why the device is not working. In this case, you can either reinstall it with a different IRQ, or change its IRQ. Only advanced users should attempt to change IRQ settings. If the device is Plug and Play (PnP), it should not be affected by changing the IRQ. If the device is not PnP, changing the IRQ may cause it to stop working. Use the instructions above for checking all IRQs in use on your computer, and find an IRQ that is not in use. To change the IRQ, select the
Resourcestab and uncheck
Use Automatic Settings. In the "Resource settings:" box, double-click
Interrupt Requestto bring up a new window with the option to change the selected IRQ.
Note: If the selected device is a modem or a mouse, the
Resourcestab will not appear. To check the resources of a modem or mouse, select the
Portsoption in the list of devices in the Device Manager. Select the port where the modem or mouse is installed, and then click
Properties. This will bring up a
Port Propertieswindow with a
Resourcestab, where you can check the resources for the modem or mouse.
- To update a driver for the selected device, select the
Drivertab and click
Update Driver.... Follow the steps to update the driver for the selected device.
Removing a device
Only advanced users should attempt to remove a device from the Device Manager. Doing so may require that you log in with administrative rights.
Removing a device causes Windows to lose all recognition of it, and
the device will stop working properly. Windows should automatically
recognize a new device when it restarts, but this does not always
happen. If Windows does not recognize the device, you will need to use
Add New Hardware icon in the Control Panel for Windows to
properly recognize the hardware. Before removing the device, be sure
you have all the necessary drivers required for the device; this will
help if you need to reinstall it.
Windows 7 and Vista: In the Device Manager,
highlight the device, and then click the
Uninstallbutton at the top of the window (a computer with a red X). Alternatively, right-click the device and choose
XP: In the Device Manager, highlight the device,
and then click the
Removebutton at the bottom of the window, or the
Removeicon at the top of the window (a computer with a red X).
Last modified on January 03, 2013.