Fixing a Yellow Exclamation Point in Device Manager

When Device Manager shows a yellow triangle with an exclamation point next to a device, it means there's an issue with it

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 triangle next to a device means 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 there's a system resource conflict, a driver issue, or, frankly, almost any number of other things.

Stack of warning signs that are yellow triangles
Martin Diebel / Getty Images 

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.

Fortunately, there aren't that many error codes used by this program, 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.

Before you can fix whatever issue is going on, you'll need to view this special code, determine what it's referring to, and then troubleshoot accordingly.

Viewing the code is easy: just head to the device's Properties and then read the code in the 'Device status' area.

Unknown device properties in Device Manager

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

More Information on Error Icons in Device Manager

If you're really paying attention to Device Manager, you may have noticed that this indicator isn't 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 11, Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista operating systems, and a circle in Windows XP.

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

There's 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 2000, which almost no one has installed anymore.

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