Installing Windows 7 Drivers is fairly straightforward, once you understand how to manage your Windows devices. In this post, we’ll see how to access the Windows 7 Device Manager, access a particular device and update or install device drivers.
When updating or installing Windows 7 drivers manually, I like to see what device drivers are already installed on my system before installing or changing anything. As an aside, it’s also a good idea to ensure you have a recent “Restore Point” before messing around with system settings – like device drivers or registry settings, as there’s always some risk that Windows might encounter troubles rebooting after such low-level changes.
Now, let’s begin by having a look at the devices we have installed first. You can access Device Manager a few different ways. One way is to open Control Panel and enter “device” in the search box, then choose Device Manager.
Another way is to right-click on the My Computer icon (on the desktop or in the Start menu), and choose the “Properties” menu as shown below:
Once you select the Properties menu, you’ll see the following screen:
The above dialog shows your computer’s properties. In the upper left corner you’ll see the “Device Manager” link. Click on that link to bring up the Device Manager, which will look like this:
As you can see, the Device Manager lists all your computer’s devices in a tree list. You can open and expand each of those list items by clicking on it. For example, you can see here I have opened up the Network Adapters to see two Intel network devices – one is the Ethernet hard-wired port and the other is the wireless adapter.
Next, right click on the desired device, and select “Properties”. You’ll then see a device properties dialog like this one pop up for the device you selected:
Now, on this device properties dialog you can see quite a lot of information. As shown above, you can select the “Driver” tab, which then shows the currently installed driver information, the driver’s date, version, etc.
From here, you can (among other things) select the Update Driver button to update the driver. There are a couple of options, which appear in this dialog:
The above dialog provides a couple of options:
1) You can let Windows search automatically for an updated driver. This will work in some cases, but not in others.
2) You can “Browse” your computer’s hard drive to locate a driver that you downloaded. In many cases, you will have downloaded the latest driver from a vendor’s site or using some type of driver location service, and the driver files will be located in a folder on your PC. In this case, you simply browse to that folder where you stored the downloaded files and choose the appropriate sub-folder for your PC (pay particular attention to whether you need 32-bit or 64-bit driver versions, as there will likely be several to choose from).
If you don’t see a Windows 7 sub-folder in the driver directory, you may have to settle for using a Vista driver instead (most Vista drivers are compatible with Windows 7).
Here’s a decent video that demonstrates this process:
Now that we have seen how to install or update a driver using Device Manager, there may be another option. Many device drivers have their own installation programs. For these types of drivers (e.g., HP printer drivers), you’ll want to use the vendor’s installation program, which is usually an executable program in the root directory or main folder where you downloaded the driver. Running the vendor’s install will often install additional vendor utilities and tools, in addition to the driver. Sometimes this is desirable – sometimes not (depending on the device).
If you purchased a new hardware device for your PC, it’s best to begin with the software/driver installation instructions that came with your hardware device – at least as a starting point.
Hope that quick overview of locating and installing/updating devices using Device Manager is helpful.