Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024


Key Takeaways

  • Scanning for hardware changes forces Windows to look for and configure any new or changed hardware devices.
  • To scan for hardware changes using the Device Manager, open the Start menu, type “Device Manager” and press Enter. In the Device Manager, right-click your computer name and choose “Scan for hardware changes”.


Has a hardware device like a webcam stopped working after you updated its driver? Or is Windows not recognizing a new device? In either case, you should scan for hardware changes on your computer. This will help Windows properly recognize the new driver or device and configure it.

Here are two quick ways to scan for hardware changes on Windows 11.


When Should You Scan for Hardware Changes?

When you plug in a new device, Windows detects and installs its driver on your computer automatically. However, Windows may sometimes fail to detect the device if its malfunctioning or if it has a conflict with another device installed on your computer. This can also happen when you update the drivers for an existing device.

Therefore, if you add or update a device, such as a new graphics card, and Windows does not recognize it, you should scan for hardware changes on your computer.

In addition to detecting new devices, scanning for hardware changes can help you resolve various Windows issues. For example, if you’re experiencing a black screen issue after updating your graphics driver, Windows may have failed to detect the update. In this case, you can scan for hardware changes to force Windows to detect and install the update, which may resolve the issue. Scanning for hardware changes can also be helpful in other situations, such as fixing some BSOD errors.

Scan for Hardware Changes Using the Device Manager

The Device Manager is the go-to place to view and manage all the hardware devices installed on your Windows PC. You can use it to update drivers, manage devices, and scan for hardware changes.

To scan for hardware changes using the Device Manager, open the Start menu, type “Device Manager” in the search bar, and press Enter. Then, right-click your computer name and select “Scan for hardware changes”.

Selecting 'Scan for hardware changes' in Device Manager

Windows will now scan for any new devices installed on your computer or any new driver updates you have downloaded. This method is especially helpful when Windows fails to recognize a new device plugged into your computer.

There may also be situations where a device still appears in the Device Manager after you have removed it from your computer. This can cause problems with a similar device that you connect to your computer. For example, if a Bluetooth mouse still shows up in the Device Manager even after you have removed it, you may have problems using another mouse that you connect to your computer. In this case, you can scan for hardware changes to remove the old mouse.

Scan for Hardware Changes Using Command Prompt or Windows PowerShell

If Device Manager is not responding for any reason, you can use command line tools such as Command Prompt or Windows PowerShell to scan for hardware changes on your computer. The command is the same for both Command Prompt and Windows PowerShell.

To do this using the Command Prompt, open the Start menu, type “Command Prompt,” in the search bar and click “Run as administrator” in the right pane. In the elevated Command Prompt window, type the following command and press Enter:

 pnputil.exe /scan-devices 
Scan for Hardware Changes command in Command Prompt

Once the scan is complete, you will see a “Scan complete” message. Then, you will see that Windows has detected the hardware changes made to your computer.

Scan complete message in Command Prompt


And that’s how you ensure that your Windows PC recognizes all the driver updates and new devices. Enjoy!



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By John P.

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