How to View Hidden Devices in Windows

By default, Windows hides protected and unplugged devices from the Device Manager. Here’s how to change that.

If you want to see a list of devices installed on your Windows computer, you’ll find them in the Device Manager. However, you won’t see all of them, as Windows has hidden some of them for one reason or another.

Sometimes, you might need to reveal them to troubleshoot them if they’re causing problems. As such, here’s how to tell Device Manager to show disabled devices inWindows.

How to View Hidden Devices in Windows Device Manager

To reveal hidden devices in Device Manager, follow the steps below:

  1. Start by opening the Device Manager by pressing Win + R, typing “devmgmt.msc” in the text box, and pressing the Enter key.
  2. Click View on the top menu and select Show Hidden Devices.

If you’re using Windows 7 or earlier, you won’t see any nonpresent devices when you enable the option to show hidden devices. For example, Device Manager won’t show hidden USB devices that you unplug from your computer unless you specifically tell it to.

Here are the steps to show hidden nonpresent devices in Windows 7:

  1. Press Win, click inside the search box, and type “advanced settings.”
  2. In the search results, under the Control Panel heading, click on View advanced system settings.
  3. The System Properties pop-up will show with the Advanced tab already selected. Now click on the Environment Variables button towards the bottom.

  4. Click on the New button under System variables.

  5. Copy and paste the following in the text box for Variable name:
  6. Enter 1 in the text box for Variable value.
  7. Click OK.

  8. Now when you show hidden devices, you’ll be able to see the non-present ones as well. If you want to hide them again, just set the value in step six to 0.


Why Are Some Devices Hidden in Device Manager?

There are a couple of reasons Windows hides some devices in Device Manager. The most common one is that they’re nonpresent devices. Any device that isn’t connected to the computer, but still has entries in the Windows Registry, is hidden by default so that you’re not bombarded with every device you’ve ever installed when you open the Device Manager.

Another reason is that Windows may have classified them in the registry as devices that Device Manager shouldn’t display. Windows does this by either setting their device node (devnode) status to DN_NO_SHOW_IN_DM or marking their setup class as NoDisplayClass.

Hidden Devices in Device Manager, Revealed

When you look at the list of devices in Device Manager, it’s not immediately obvious that Windows has hidden some of them. But when they start causing problems, knowing how to reveal them is vital to making your computer work perfectly again. Luckily, showing hidden devices in Device Manager is quite easy.

windows device manager feature

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