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How to find and update drivers in Windows

Are you looking to update the drivers inside your Windows PC for optimal performance? Keeping your drivers updated is essential for a smooth and efficient computing experience. In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through updating your Windows drivers while ensuring that your system runs smoothly and efficiently.

How to find and update drivers in Windows

Updating drivers in Windows is a crucial maintenance task that can help resolve hardware compatibility issues, improve system stability, and enhance overall system performance. With the ever-evolving hardware landscape, staying on top of driver updates is essential to ensure that your PC components function at their best. Follow these steps to update your Windows drivers and keep your system running smoothly.

Device Manager

The first thing you should do is check Device Manager for any hardware components that are having driver issues. Right-click on the Start Windows logo key menu and select Device Manager from the Power User menu. If any devices are having problems, you will find them here.

Look down the list of hardware components and see if there are any with yellow triangles with exclamation marks.
An unknown device inside of Device Manager
These devices are currently malfunctioning and might need a driver to run correctly. Double left-click on the component to bring up its properties.

On the General tab, you will find the Device status box, which shows you what is wrong with that component. If it is missing a driver, you can go to the Driver tab and select Update driver. Odds are Windows has already tried to update the driver using Windows Update and did not find a compatible driver.

If Windows cannot find a driver, there are a couple of options. Either use a third-party program to detect and find a driver or play detective and research the mystery component. A quick Google search will usually bring up the device manufacturer and device type.

To find out the component information, bring up the component's properties and go to the Details tab. In the Property pull-down menu, select Hardware Ids, right-click on the top Value, and select Copy. Then, use your favorite browser and go to Google. Right-click inside the search box, select Paste from the menu that appears and then hit Enter.

Nine times out of ten, the type of component and its manufacturer will be at the top of the search results. From here, you can to go to the manufacturer's website and look for drivers for that component or use a third-party driver utiltiy (see below). Once all the components are running correctly, you can update the drivers.

Updating Drivers

When it comes to updating drivers, I prefer using the manufacturer's drivers whenever possible. Most laptop, desktop, and motherboard manufacturers have software to assist you in getting the latest drivers for your device. For example, Dell has Dell Update, HP has its Support Assistant, and MSI has the MSI Center.

A quick check for utilities or software in your device's download section should yield either an app for updating drivers or the actual driver itself. You may have to search through the downloads, but an app that will check for and download updates is the preferred way to go.

If you do not find any apps for updating the drivers and you did not find a driver for your mystery component, then using a third-party driver updating program may be your only alternative. There are plenty of them out there. But I have only found one that really works.

A few years back, I had a laptop for which I was reinstalling Windows and had to find drivers. It was an obscure laptop made in China, and the manufacturer had gone out of business. I took the opportunity to test out several of the top-rated driver utilities. The only one that found drivers for all components was the IObit Driver Booster.

In conclusion, updating drivers on Windows is a crucial maintenance task that can help optimize your PC's performance and ensure compatibility with the latest hardware and software. Following the steps outlined above, you can keep your system running smoothly and efficiently while enjoying the best possible computing experience. Remember that regular driver updates can help prevent compatibility issues and ensure that your PC's hardware operates at its full potential.

My digital toolbox 7

Every computer technician carries a few USB flash drives with software, scripts, and other files that we use for diagnostics. I have several in my briefcase and even more in my workshop. But their contents are constantly changing. So here is another installment of My Digital Toolbox.

My digital toolbox 7


Main screen inside of HWiNFO

When it comes to monitoring hardware while running diagnostics or stress tests, nothing comes close to HWiNFO. This versatile tool allows you to know the status of any component inside your computer. The convenience of a portable version that can be run directly from a USB drive adds to its appeal, making it a must-have for your digital toolbox.



Main screen inside of Prime95

Prime95, originally developed to search for Mersenne prime numbers, has been adopted for stress testing CPUs (Central Processing Unit). It uses the CPU's integer and floating-point instructions to feed a consistent workload, testing the CPU's stability. The fact that it's a stand-alone program that doesn't require installation adds to its appeal. Simply download, unzip, and run. It's a great companion to HWiNFO (see above), making it a valuable addition to your digital toolbox.


Display Driver Uninstaller

Main screen inside of Display Driver Uninstaller

When it comes to graphic cards, having the correct version of drivers is essential, and maintaining them can be a nightmare. Uninstalling the separate components can be frustrating. Luckily, there is the Display Driver Uninstaller (DDU). With this program, you can uninstall all of the components that get installed when you use the manufacturer's installation software package. It is recommended that you run DDU in safe mode and create a Restore Point before running DDU.

Display Driver Uninstaller

Mastering Windows 11 Shortcuts

Are you tired of hunting for your favorite program, website, or feature in Windows 11? Why not utilize a shortcut to make navigating Windows 11 so much easier? In this article, I will show you how to master shortcuts in Windows 11.

Creating shortcuts in Windows 11 can significantly improve your productivity and efficiency. By allowing you to access your favorite apps and features with just a few keystrokes, whether you are a seasoned Windows user or new to the platform, learning how to create and use shortcuts can streamline your workflow and make navigating Windows 11 a breeze.

In this article, we will explore the various methods for creating and using shortcuts in Windows 11, as well as some valuable tips and tricks to help you get the most out of these powerful features. There are basically four (4) types of shortcuts we are going to look at. They are Desktop, Taskbar, Start menu and Keyboard.

When creating shortcuts, you have to know where the file or app you want to create a shortcut to is located on your computer. You usually will use File Explorer to make most of your shortcuts. You can access the File Explorer by either:

  • Left-clicking on the manilla folder icon (File Explorer) on the Taskbar.
  • Right-click on the Start Windows logo key button and select File Explorer from the Power User menu.
  • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + E.

Desktop Shortcuts

Desktop shortcuts are by far the most popular shortcuts. They are easy to create, can link to almost anything, and have the most options. Some of the following procedures require using both left and right mouse buttons and drag-and-drop functions.

Folder and file shortcuts

  1. Open File Explorer and make sure that its window is not maximized and that you can see the Desktop behind it.
  2. Locate any folder or file you would like to create a shortcut on the Desktop.
  3. Click and hold the right mouse button on the folder or file and drag it to the Desktop.
  4. Left-click on Create shortcuts here from
    Create shortcuts here context menu
    the context menu that appears.

By using the right mouse button instead of the left mouse button to create the shortcut, you are guaranteed to get the Create shortcuts here option.

URL shortcuts

Creating a link to a web page is as simple as it is for folders and files. We will use your favorite browser (Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, etc.) to create a Desktop shortcut.

  1. Open your browser, make sure that its window is not maximized, and you can see the Desktop behind it.
  2. Navigate to the web page to which you would like a shortcut.
  3. Click and hold the left mouse button on the
    Web browser address site information
    View site information icon to the left of the web address, then drag it to the Desktop.

Desktop shortcuts also have another cool feature: keyboard shortcuts. These keyboard shortcuts are limited to using the Ctrl + Alt keys along with your choice of a letter (A-Z) or number (0-9). They are handy when you want to open a Desktop shortcut, and your screen is full of open apps.

To set up a keyboard shortcut for a Desktop shortcut:

  1. Right-click on a Desktop shortcut and select Properties.
  2. For shortcuts to folders and files, select the Shortcut tab and scroll down to Shortcut key. For web page shortcuts, select the Web Document tab and scroll down to Shortcut key.
  3. Left-click in the Shortcut key box and press the letter or number you want to use. You will notice that Ctrl + Alt are automatically added.
  4. In the right-hand corner, left-click on Apply. Then click on OK.

To remove a Desktop shortcut, right-click on it and select Delete from the context menu that appears.

Taskbar / Start menu shortcuts

Since the Taskbar and Start menu shortcuts are created similarly, I have grouped them together. There is one difference between them: Taskbar shortcuts can only be to programs, not folders or files. However, creating and deleting them is the same.

  1. Using either Files Explorer or the Start Windows logo key menu, navigate to the program, folder, or file you want a shortcut to.
  2. Right-click on it to bring up the context menu for it.
  3. On the context menu, look for either Pin to Taskbar or Pin to Start. If there is a More options link at the bottom of the context menu, click on it. You should now have all available options shown.
  4. Left-click on the type of shortcut you would like to create.

To remove a Taskbar or Start Windows logo key menu shortcut, right-click on the shortcut and choose Unpin from Taskbar or Unpin from Start.

Keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are another powerful way to streamline your workflow in Windows 11. Many built-in shortcuts can help you quickly navigate the operating system and perform everyday tasks. For example, pressing Windows logo key Windows logo key + D will minimize all open windows and show the Desktop, while Windows logo key Windows logo key + E will open File Explorer.

There are several categories of Keyboard shortcuts: Windows logo key, accessibility, dialog box, and general. And since I use my right hand for my mouse, I have keyboard shortcuts I use only with my left hand. Here are links to all of the different categories of keyboard shortcuts you can use with Windows 11.

Windows logo key shortcuts for Windows 11

Accessibility keyboard shortcuts

Dialog box keyboard shortcuts

General keyboard shortcuts

My favorite left hand Windows keyboard shortcuts

In conclusion, creating and using shortcuts in Windows 11 is a simple yet powerful way to enhance your computing experience. By taking advantage of Desktop shortcuts, Taskbar shortcuts, Start menu shortcuts, and Keyboard shortcuts, you can easily customize your workflow to suit your individual needs and navigate Windows 11. With some time and effort, you can create a personalized system of shortcuts that will help you work more efficiently and effectively.

Switching out of Windows S mode

Did you recently purchase a Windows computer only to discover that you could not install desktop programs? If so, it could be that your Windows computer came with S mode enabled. In this article, I will show you how to switch your Windows computer running in S mode to the Windows Home version.

Switching out of Windows S mode

Most people have never heard of Windows running in S mode. That is probably because S mode was meant to compete with Chromebooks in the education industry. Basically, it's a Home version of Windows that has been restricted to only installing apps from the Microsoft Store.

Now, if you're a parent of a young child, S mode is a perfect match. Using Microsoft accounts, you can utilize the Family Safety feature to configure what software can be installed, where they can and cannot go on the Internet, and when they can use their device.

How to setup Family Safety for Windows using Microsoft accounts

The nice thing is that Microsoft allows you to switch Windows out of S mode and into the Home version. And it is free. But it is a one-way conversion. Once your system switches out of S mode, it will never be able to go back into S mode. It's important to note that switching out of S mode does require an Internet connection. If you are using a laptop, make sure that your device is plugged in or has sufficient battery charge to complete the process.

How to switch out of S mode

Before switching out of S mode, it's important to note again that this process is irreversible. Once you switch out of S mode, you cannot go back. With that in mind, here's a step-by-step guide to switching out of S mode:

  1. Begin by opening the Microsoft Store on your Windows computer.
  2. In the Microsoft Store, search for Switch out of S mode in the search bar.
  3. Select the Switch out of S mode option from the search results.
  4. Click the Get button to initiate the process. You may be asked to sign in with your Microsoft account if you haven't already done so.
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the switch out of S mode. This process may take a few minutes, and your computer will need to restart to apply the changes.

After switching out of S mode, your computer will be running the Home version of Windows. You will now be able to install and run desktop apps from sources other than the Microsoft Store, giving you greater flexibility and control over your computing experience.

How to install Windows 11 without a Microsoft account

When it comes to Windows 11, one question always seems to come up: "Can I install Windows 11 with a local account like I have done in previous versions of Windows?" The answer is yes, you can, and I am going to show you how to install Windows 11 without a Microsoft account.

How to install Windows 11 without a Microsoft account

When it comes to installing Windows 11 without a Microsoft account, the process is relatively straightforward. However, there are a couple things you have to due during the installation to be able to create a local user account.

First and foremost, it's important to note that Microsoft strongly encourages users to sign in with a Microsoft account. While this provides access to additional features and seamless integration with Microsoft services, it is not mandatory.

Keep in mind that most Windows 11 systems come with Bitlocker drive encryption enabled and using a Microsoft account to login will place the Bitlocker decryption key inside of your Microsoft account online. If you like, you can always turn off Bitlocker after the installation is complete.

Now, the stage in the installation of Windows 11 that you need to make changes is called the Out-Of-Box-Experience (OOBE). This is when Windows 11 prepares for the first use. So, you can use this procedure on brand-new Windows 11 systems or clean installations of Windows 11.

This process will usually work flawlessly, but I have had issues with new computers that have Windows 11 in S mode. For more information about performing a clean installation of Windows 11, follow the link below.

How to perform a clean installation of Windows 11

As I mentioned before, the stage in the Windows 11 installation we need to modify is the OOBE. The one thing you will need to do is make sure you do not have an ethernet cable plugged into your computer.

Your computer cannot access the Internet until after you create the local user account. If Windows 11 detects Internet access, it will not allow you to bypass the network requirement, which is what you have to do to finish the installation using a local user account.

When you start your new Windows 11 computer for the first time or finalize a clean installation of Windows 11, the first screen that appears in the OOBE is the Is this the right country or region screen.
The Is this the right country or region screen in the Windows 11 setup
This is where we need to modify the OOBE.

Using your keyboard, press Shift + F10. If your laptop has an FN (Function) button, you may have to also hold it down to toggle the F10 key.
An Administrative Command Prompt running on top of the country or region screen
This will bring up an Administrative Command Prompt.

In the Command Prompt type:


and then press enter.
An Administrative Command Prompt with OOBE\BYPASSNRO in the prompt
This will restart the OOBE stage again using the BYPASSNRO (BYPASS Network Requirement Option) switch. You will now have the ability to skip using a Microsoft account to logon. Once the OOBE stage restarts, you return to the first screen (country and region).

Proceed through the screens until you reach the Let's connect you to a network screen.
The Let's connect you to a network screen in the Windows 11 setup
Left-click on the I don't have internet link at the bottom of the screen.

The next screen is the Connect now to quickly get started on your device screen.
The Connect now to quickly get started on your device screen in the Windows 11 setup
Left-click on the Continue with limited setup link. The next screen is the Who's going to use this device screen. Enter a name and left-click on the Next button.

Now you come to the Create a super memorable password screen. If you leave the password blank/empty and left-click on the Next button, your computer will automatically log in to your desktop. This is how to create a local user with no password.

In conclusion, installing Windows 11 without a Microsoft account is entirely feasible and allows users to maintain a local account on their system. Following the steps outlined in this article, you can successfully set up Windows 11 without needing a Microsoft account, giving you more control over your operating system.

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