The Device Manager in Windows allows you to update or get driver information about the hardware connected to your computer. We will show you how to open it, use it, and learn about drivers.
Knowing more about what a driver is and how it works seems like a complementary bit of knowledge to understand what the Device Manager is doing.
If you want to know more about drivers in-depth, I suggest you go and read further on Wikipedia.
Steps on How to Open Device Manager
- Open the Start Menu (Press the ⊞ Windows Key on the keyboard).
- Type device manager.
- Left-click your mouse pointer on Device Manager inside the menu.
An alternative method
This is my personal favorite way to open the Device Manager:
- Right-click on the This PC icon on the desktop and left-click on Properties.
- Left-click on Device Manager to open it.
If this shortcut isn’t on your desktop, you can add it using your theme settings.
If you still can’t get the shortcut on your desktop, press and hold the Windows key (⊞) on your keyboard, tap the Pause key, and release the Windows key.
This will open the System Properties window, and you can left-click on Device Manager to access it.
Once you open it
You can open the category of the driver by clicking on the arrow on the left of the group name.
It will open a list of all the drivers under that group. Each one will be assigned to a specific piece of hardware connected to your system.
For most of us, the file menu on the top is rarely used. The most likely thing to use is the View menu to view the driver list to your preference.
I have never found this necessary and have always left it as is.
What is Windows Device Manager?
Device Manager is a small application known as an applet found in the Control Panel. It contains a list of all the drivers for all the devices connected to the computer.
As the name suggests, Device Manager allows you to manage all the drivers for every hardware component connected to your system that Windows can use.
Device Manager can remove, install and update drivers for each hardware component detected and connected to your computer.
What is a device driver?
Every device connected to your computer needs a bit of software to tell Windows how to use it correctly.
We call this piece of software a driver. It contains information about the hardware, like a datasheet for Windows to understand the component’s commands and how to send it data.
This way, the operating system or installed software can use the hardware specifically.
For example, when you plug your USB flash drive into a USB port on your machine, it gets detected, and a relevant driver is loaded for the drive’s communication controller.
This communication controller is simply a small IC that allows connection to the computer and can control all the functions of the drive. Now, the operating system can use generic commands from the user and translate them for the drive to understand.
Now the ability to see, write and read to the drive is known, and these features have become available to programs like Windows File Explorer. For example, the operating system will also know information like the manufacturer, model, and maximum capacity.
How to see if a driver is missing
You can spot a missing driver by looking for any yellow circled exclamation marks next to them.
In this case, you want to try and update it first, then if that doesn’t work, identify the hardware for new drivers to be downloaded and installed.
How to update a driver
If you wish to look for an update for a particular driver, right-click on the one in question and left-click on ‘Update driver’.
Windows will search to try and match the most compatible drive it can find and install it automatically.
You also have the choice to do a manual update, where you select a specific driver file for the hardware component.
How to identify the device without a driver
If you right-click on a driver and left-click on Properties. Click on the Details tab to learn more about the hardware component.
Left-click on the combo box under ‘Property’ and left-click on Hardware Ids. Some values will be listed under the Value box.
Take note of the DEV number and copy it (right-click & copy) to do the following search in Google:
Type driver, add a space, and paste the hardware DEV number. Complete the Google search.
You will notice that your DEV number will appear in some results. Click on the results, starting with the top one. Continue to do this until you find some information about the type of device associated with that DEV number.
Once you have identified what it is, do another search for the hardware description you found. You can first try the manufacturer’s website to find a driver. If you don’t have any luck, continue onto other websites to find one.
Be careful of websites that look spammy. They want you to install other programs to maintain or update your drivers. Stay away. They aren’t going to be of any help.
Scanning for new hardware
After installing new drivers or wishing Windows to refresh your current drivers’ list, press the icon on the icon bar under the main menu.
The icon will look like a screen with a magnifying glass over it.
Access to the Device Manager allows you to improve communication between the operating system and your computer’s hardware.
So you can use every component as you are meant to.
If you cannot get the drivers necessary for your hardware, it’s time to upgrade the component.
Unfortunately, this is the nature of computing, requiring spending some money to get it right.
I hope you never have to run into such an issue. Good luck getting your drivers working and up to date.