How Do I Enable a Device in Device Manager in Windows?

Enable a disabled device in Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP

Screenshot showing how to enable a disabled device in Device Manager in Windows 10
Enable a Device in Device Manager (Windows 10).

Each hardware device listed in Device Manager must be enabled before Windows can use it. Once enabled, Windows can assign system resources to the device.

By default, Windows enables all hardware that it recognizes. A device is that is not enabled will be marked by a black arrow in Device Manager, or a red x in Windows XP.  Disabled devices also generate a Code 22 error in Device Manager.

You can enable a device from the device's Properties in Device Manager. However, the detailed steps involved in enabling a device vary depending on which Windows operating system you're using; the small differences are called out below.

See What Version of Windows Do I Have? if you're not sure which of those several versions of Windows is installed on your computer. 

  1. There are several ways of opening the Windows Device Manager but it's usually quickest through the Power User Menu in newer versions of Windows, or Control Panel in older versions.

  2. With Device Manager now open, locate the hardware device you want to enable. Specific hardware devices are listed under the major hardware categories.

    Navigate through the categories of hardware devices by clicking the > icon, or [+] if you're using Windows Vista or Windows XP.

  3. After finding the hardware you're looking for, right-click on the device's name or icon and click on Properties.

  4. In this Properties window, click the Driver tab.

    If you don't see the Driver tab, click or tap Enable Device from the General tab, follow the on-screen instructions, click/tap the Close button, and then skip down to Step 7.

    Windows XP Users Only: Stay in the General tab and choose the Device usage: drop-down box at the very bottom. Change it to Use this device (enable) and then skip down to Step 6.

  5. Now click the Enable Device button if you're using Windows 10, or the Enable button for older versions of Windows.

    You'll know the device is enabled if the button immediately changes to read Disable Device or Disable.

  6. Click OK. This device should now be enabled.

  7. You should now be returned to the main Device Manager window and the black arrow should be gone.

If a yellow exclamation point appears after the black arrow or red x disappears, you should troubleshoot that issue separately. The yellow exclamation point is a different kind of warning concerning your hardware's configuration.

You can verify that the hardware should be working properly by checking the device status in Device Manager. See How to Disable a Device in Device Manager if you need to do that.