Getting Started with Device Manager

9/5/2010 9:39:38 AM

You use Device Manager to view and configure hardware devices. You'll spend a lot of time working with this tool, so you should get to know it before working with devices.

To access Device Manager and obtain a detailed list of all the hardware devices installed on a system, complete the following steps:

  1. Click Start and then click Control Panel.

  2. In Control Panel, click the System And Maintenance category heading link.

  3. Click Administrative Tools and then double-click Computer Management.


    To work with a remote computer, right-click the Computer Management entry in the console tree and then select Connect To Another Computer. Choose Another Computer and then type the fully qualified name of the computer you want to work with, or click Browse to search for the computer with which you want to work. Click OK.

  4. In the Computer Management console, click the plus sign (+) next to the System Tools node. This expands the node to display its tools.

  5. Select Device Manager. As shown in Figure 1, you should now see a complete list of devices installed on the system. By default, this list is organized by device type.

    Image from book
    Figure 1: Use Device Manager to work with hardware devices.

  6. Click the plus sign (+) next to a device type to see a list of the specific instances of that device type.

Once you access Device Manager, you can work with any of the installed devices. If you right-click a device entry, a shortcut menu is displayed. The options available depend on the device type, but they include the following:

  • Properties Displays the Properties dialog box for the device

  • Uninstall Uninstalls the device and its drivers

  • Disable Disables the device but doesn't uninstall it

  • Enable Enables a device if it's disabled

  • Update Driver Starts the Hardware Update wizard, which you can use to update the device driver

  • Scan For Hardware Changes Tells Windows Vista to check the hardware configuration and determine whether there are any changes


The device list shows warning symbols if there are problems with a device. A yellow warning symbol with an exclamation point indicates a problem with a device. A red X indicates a device that was improperly installed or disabled by the user or the administrator for some reason.

You can use the options on the View menu in the Computer Management console to change the defaults for which types of devices are displayed and how the devices are listed. The options are as follows:

  • Devices By Type Displays devices by the type of device installed, such as disk drive or printer. The connection name is listed below the type. This is the default view.

  • Devices By Connection Displays devices by connection type, such as audio and video codecs.

  • Resources By Type Displays the status of allocated resources by type of device using the resource. Resource types are direct memory access (DMA) channels, input/output (I/O) ports, interrupt requests (IRQ), and memory addresses.

  • Resources By Connection Displays the status of all allocated resources by connection type rather than device type.

  • Show Hidden Devices Displays non–Plug and Play devices as well as devices that have been physically removed from the computer but haven't had their drivers uninstalled.

  •  Working with Device in Vista
  •  Managing Hardware in Vista
  •  Customizing Hardware Device Settings
  •  Managing Internet Time in Vista
  •  Optimizing Windows Vista Menus
  •  Customizing the Taskbar in Vista
  •  Optimizing Toolbars in Vista
  •  Working with Desktop Themes in Vista
  •  Optimizing the Desktop Environment in Vista
  •  Screen Saver Dos and Don'ts in Vista
  •  Modifying Display Appearance and Video Settings
  •  Installing Programs in Vista: The Essentials
  •  Configuring Program Compatibility in Vista
  •  Managing Installed and Running Programs in Vista
  •  Managing Remote in Vista
  •  Improving Disk Performance in Vista
  •  Working with Basic and Dynamic Disks
  •  Working with Disks, Partitions, and Volumes in Vista
  •  Partitioning Disks and Preparing Them for Use in Vista
  •  Moving a Dynamic Disk to a New System
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