What's That Yellow Exclamation Point in Device Manager?

The Meaning of the Yellow Triangle With the Exclamation Point in Device Manager

Stack of warning signs that are yellow triangles with exclamation marks on them
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See a yellow exclamation point next to a device in Device Manager? Don't worry, it's not that uncommon and it doesn't necessarily mean you have to replace anything.

In fact, there are dozens of reasons that a yellow exclamation point might show up in Device Manager, some more serious than others, but usually well within anyone's capabilities to fix, or at least troubleshoot.

What's That Yellow Exclamation Point in Device Manager?

A yellow exclamation point next to a device in Device Manager means that Windows has identified a problem of some kind with that device.

The yellow exclamation mark provides an indication of a device's current status and could mean that there is a system resource conflict, a driver issue, or, frankly, almost any number of other things.

Unfortunately, the yellow mark itself doesn't give you any valuable information but what it does do is confirm that something called a Device Manager error code has been logged and associated with that particular device.

Luckily, there aren't that many DM error codes and the ones that do exist are pretty clear and straightforward. What this means, then, is whatever problem is occurring with the hardware, or with Windows' ability to work with the hardware, you at least will have a clear direction as to what to do.

So, before you can fix, or at least try to fix, whatever problem is going on, you'll need to view this special code, determine what it's referring to, and then troubleshoot accordingly.

Viewing the Device Manager error code that was generated for whatever piece of hardware is very easy to do. Just head to the device's Properties and then read the code in the Device status area.

See my How to View a Device's Status in Device Manager for more complete instructions, especially if you're having trouble finding where that code is logged.

Once you know what the specific error code is, you can then reference my List of Device Manager Error Codes for what to do next. Usually this means finding the code in my list and then following any specific troubleshooting information I have available that's specific to that error.

Note: If you're really paying attention in Device Manager, you may have noticed that this indicator is not a yellow exclamation point at all - it's actually a black exclamation point on a yellow background, similar to the caution sign in the illustration on this page. The yellow background is triangle shaped in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista operating systems and a circle in Windows XP.

I also often get asked about the "yellow question mark" in Device Manager. The yellow question mark appears not at as a warning indicator, but as a full sized device icon. The yellow question mark appears when a device is detected but not installed. You can almost always solve this problem by updating the drivers for the device.

There is also a green question mark that can appear in some very specific situations but only in Windows Millennium Edition (ME), a version of Windows, released in September 2000, which almost no one has installed anymore.

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