How to uninstall hidden devices

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Ever had those drivers or devices that just won’t go away even though you’re sure you’ve uninstalled them. Could be a netword card that was replaced and you keep getting warnings that the system insists there is still an adapter installed with the same IP address.

To get rid of unwanted drivers, devices:

  1. Open the “Start” menu and choose “Run…”
  2. Type “cmd” and press enter
  3. At the command prompt, type:
    set devmgr_show_nonpresent_devices=1
    and press enter (nothing happens here, which is ok. we just set an environment variable, which enables us to see hidden devices in Device Manager)
  4. In the open “cmd” type “devmgmt.msc” and press enter (This will launch the Device Manager Console)
  5. In the Device Manager Console, select “Show Hidden Devices” from the “View” menu
  6. Expand the various branches in the device tree (e.g. Network Adapters) and look for the washed out icons, which indicate unused device drivers
  7. To remove an unused device driver, right-click the icon and select Uninstall

Be careful though, you should note that non-loaded devices and drivers are “grayed” out, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should delete all of them. It’s recommended to only remove items you know you don’t need. Be careful that you don’t change too many devices or you might need to re-activate your Windows installation.

If you accidentally exit the Device Manager Console you will need to start over again at the command prompt.

About Author

Peter is an Exchange specialist with over 15+ years of experience with Exchange Server and certified Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) and Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM) on Exchange Server. He has been awarded the Microsoft MVP award, every year since 2007. He is active in the Microsoft community and User Group Leader for CoLabora (a danish UC & Cloud User Group). He works as an Cloud & Infrastructure Architect and Consulent, with primary focus on Exchange, Office 365, Azure and Skype for Business.

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