What to Know

  • Open Device Manager by searching for it or executing the devmgmt.msc command.
  • Expand the category where the device is held.
  • Right-click the device you want to disable, and go to Properties > Driver > Disable Device.

This article explains how to use Device Manager to disable a device in Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

How to Disable a Device in Device Manager in Windows

There are a few ways to disable a device, with one method being through the device's properties window.

Specific steps may differ based on the operating system version you're running, but the basic process will be the same.

  1. Open Device Manager. There are multiple ways to get there, but the Power User Menu (Win+X) is the easiest method in newer versions of Windows, while Control Panel is where you’ll best find Device Manager in older versions.

  2. Locate the device you want to disable by finding it within the category that represents it.

    For example, to disable a network adapter, you'd look within the Network adapters section, or the Bluetooth section to disable a Bluetooth adapter. Other devices might be a little harder to locate, but feel free to look in as many categories as necessary.

    In Windows 11/10/8/7, click or tap the > icon to the left of the device to open the category sections. The [+] icon is used in older versions of Windows.

  3. When you find the device you want to disable, right-click it (or tap-and-hold) and choose Properties from the menu.

  4. Open the Driver tab.

    Windows XP Users Only: Stay in the General tab and open the Device usage menu at the bottom. Choose Do not use this device (disable) and then skip down to Step 7.

    If you don't see the Driver tab or that option in the General tab, make sure you opened the properties of the device itself and not the properties of the category it's in. Return to Step 2 and make sure to use the expand buttons (> or [+]) to open the category, and then follow Step 3 only after you've selected the device you're disabling.

  5. Press Disable Device if you're using Windows 11 or Windows 10, or Disable for older versions of Windows.

    Device Manager Dell Wireless Bluetooth properties

  6. Choose Yes when you see the "Disabling this device will cause it to stop functioning. Do you really want to disable it?" message.

  7. Select OK to return to Device Manager. Now that it's disabled, you should see a black arrow or red x displayed on top of the icon for the device.

When to Disable a Device in Windows

Disabling a hardware device listed in Device Manager is useful if you’d like Windows to ignore the piece of hardware. Most users that choose to do this do so because they suspect that the hardware is causing some kind of problem.

Windows enables all devices it recognizes. Once disabled, Windows will no longer assign system resources to the device and no software on your computer will be able to use it.

The disabled device will also be marked by a black arrow in Device Manager, or a red x in Windows XP, and will generate a Code 22 error.

Tips & More Info on Disabling Devices

  • It’s really easy to undo these steps and re-enable a device or to enable a device that was disabled for some other reason.
  • Checking for the black arrow or red x in Device Manager isn’t the only way to see if a device is disabled. Aside from physically confirming that the hardware doesn’t work, another way is to view its status, something you can also do in Device Manager.
  • The Power User Menu and Control Panel are the two primary ways to access Device Manager in Windows because for most people, they’re the easiest to access. However, did you know you can open Device Manager from the command line, too? Using Command Prompt or the Run dialog box might be easier for you, especially if you’re quick with a keyboard.
  • If you can’t update a driver for one of your devices, it might be because the device is disabled. Some driver updater tools might be able to auto-enable the device before an update, but if not, just follow the steps in the tutorial linked in the first tip above.
  • If you’re disabling lots of devices, one after the other, a quicker method is to select the device once so it’s highlighted, and then use the appropriate button in the menu to immediately skip to Step 6 above.

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