Any person working on a computer has to manage several hardware components connected to it.
They might be the components embedded inside the computer, or external hardware devices like pen drives, printers, scanners, mobile phone, etc. Usually, your computer will automatically handle any connected hardware, like detecting and adding a printer to system configuration, identifying a pen drive and let you browse through it, etc.
But, at times, you might have to manually add a printer if it is indirectly connected to your computer, like, through a network, or through a Bluetooth connection. Conversely, you might want your computer to “forget” about a rogue or corrupt device.
This applet lets you manage the currently added and “remembered” devices, as well as add new devices to your computer.
How to Launch It
- Open the traditional Control Panel through the Start Screen or using the Run Windows command “control”.
- Select “Category” view for Control Panel.
- Select “Hardware and Sound” category. This opens a new page containing the subcategories.
- Select “Devices and Printers”. This will launch the applet on the same control panel page.
The opening page of the applet lists the devices that are currently connected to your system, as well as those remembered by the system. Your computer usually remembers devices like a printer, or a network computer or device, so that it doesn’t have to configure it every time it is connected.
The list is categorized, based on the type of the device. For example, printers are collected under “Printers” category, removable devices, your computer’s hard disk, etc., are listed under “Devices” category, etc.
Contextual options of a device
On selecting a device, the applet will provide you contextual options, through which, you can manage the selected device.
If you select a pen drive, for instance, then it will provide you following options.
- Browse its files
- Autoplay it
- Remove it
If a printer is selected, then it will provide following options.
- See what’s printing – See all the documents that are queued for printing through the selected printer.
- Set as default printer
- View the properties of print server
- Troubleshoot the printer
- Remove the printer
Add a device
In case your computer can’t detect a device automatically, you might have to add it manually. For example, it may not detect a network printer or a network drive automatically. You will have to add it manually. Click on “Add a device” or “Add a printer” button located on the top-left section of the main page of the applet.
For example, to add a printer, click on “Add a printer”.
As shown, you can add a printer by typing in its address, by providing its IP address or the hostname, or add it by configuring its Bluetooth connection, etc.
Windows provides a program called Device Manager, which is the Swiss Knife to handle the devices of your computer.
When you connect a device to your system, Windows installs the device drivers for that device in order to identify the device. The device then becomes eligible to be accessed through the system. Even if the device is removed from the system, its drivers remain installed in the system so that Windows doesn’t have to re-install the device when it is connected again.
The Device Manager lists all such “installed” devices, as well as the devices embedded in the system, like, the laptop speakers. The list is categorized, based on the function of the device. For example, the sound devices are listed under “Audio Inputs and Outputs” category. Similarly, all monitors are listed under “Display Adapters”.
You can manually scan for hardware changes through Device Manager. Right click anywhere, and select “Scan for hardware changes”. Windows will scan all the ports through which external devices are connected, and add or remove any device to the list.
For each device, you can update its software drivers. You can view the properties of the device, like, current drivers, history of the device, etc. Also, you can uninstall a device by removing its software drivers. That will remove the device from the memory of the system.