Join David Rivers for an in-depth discussion in this video Dealing with device drivers, part of Windows 7 Essential Training.
Drivers are those little files that are typically hidden away that actually drive the devices you connect to your computer. For example, when you plug in a digital camera, a driver is necessary to make that device work on your computer. The good news is with Windows 7 when you connect devices, typically the drivers are automatically found for you. They are installed for you the first time. And then you don't have to worry about them. Sometimes even software is installed and you are up and ready to use your device. You don't even know anything happened.
Some older devices however may not get recognized. Now typical devices you might connect to your computer include printers and scanners, cameras, video cameras, mass storage devices and so on. So let's see what happens when we connect a device in Windows 7. I am going to use a digital camera. Now if you have got something you'd like to connect, go ahead and plug it in. When you connect it to the computer something may happen. Check it down the bottom right hand corner here. Very quickly it happened. A message appeared saying that the driver was being installed automatically for me.
Also down here the software was installed successfully for my Olympus camera. You can see the model number. It's a USB device and because it is a camera, AutoPlay also launch this window where I have some picture options for importing and viewing pictures. Also some general options for using the device like I would in any other Windows folder, even as a backup or a speed up resource. So I am going to close this up. So my device is now connected and it's ready to use. So I can access it from Windows Explorer or I could have made one of those selections for viewing or downloading those files.
But once it's connected what about the driver itself? We know the driver was installed. Sometimes drivers are updated. Sometimes we want to remove the driver. How do we manage the drivers for these devices when we connect them? Well, we use the Device Manager. Let's go down to the Windows Orb. The old Start button. Give it a click and down at the bottom, the fastest way to find something and I know the Device Manager is under Control panel up here. But I also know it's called Device Manager. So I can start typing in the word device and right at the top under Control panel you will see Device Manager.
And here is where you are going to get a list of everything in your computer. Anything connected to your computer as well. So if I go up to Disk Drives, because I know that my digital camera is being treated like a drive where I can back up files and view those files, there it is right at the top the Olympus. And when I select it or highlight it, I have got a number of options at the top. I could go up to the File menu to view those Options. There is an Action menu to update the driver software itself. That's cool, and I can Uninstall from here as well.
If I don't want this driver and I don't plan on using this device on this computer. I can also Scan for changes, all kinds of cool things. Now another option, we will just click to close that, is to right-click the device to see some of those options such as Update Driver Software. So let's try that. Now you can see that for this particular driver I can search automatically. I need an Internet connection if I want to be able to search the Internet for the latest driver or I can browse the computer myself doing it manually.
Well most people are going to let that happen automatically. Look how fast that was. Windows determined the driver software is up to date. So nothing happened. If there was a new version it would automatically be updated for me. So I am going to close this up. And I am going to close up my Device Manager. Now let's see what happens when I add an older device. I know that this device in Windows XP, even Windows Vista, did not get recognized but I am in Windows 7 now. So I am going to attach a very old MP3 player.
Let's see what happens. As you can see the exact same thing happened as with my new Olympus camera down in the bottom right-hand corner of the Task bar. You can see the name of this. This is the BenQ Joybee. So I even got the manufacturer name and size. The device driver was found, the software installed successfully and because this is an actual storage device, you can see this little window appears indicating there might be a problem with some of the files on the device.
Doesn't know really, so I can scan and fix or I can continue without scanning if I am not worried about it. I will choose Continue and now I am back to AutoPlay and you can see it's a media file. So I have got Audio file options. I can open it to view it. Even use it to speed up my system. Just like I could with my Olympus camera. Now if we go back to Device Manager, I like to type it in and we look at our Disk Drives we have got the BenQ installed here as well.
So I am going to right-click, and this time go to Properties and here you can see we have got a number of tabs. In this case, you can see that the manufacturer just under Standard disk drives, but it does show up here is BenQ, so it recognized that. Any Policies, check out the Volume information. Now in this case, there are no volumes on this disk. It's not really a disk, but if you are working with disk devices you will be able to do that. Here is the Driver tab and here are some options. So I can view the Driver Details. You can see that. There is two of them there. Two certificates.
I can update the driver just like I could by right-clicking, right from here. I can Disable the device. Now that doesn't remove the actual driver. It just disables it. So it doesn't appear in Device Manager or I can choose to Uninstall it. If I am not going to use this MP3 player, I really don't need the driver, choose Uninstall and click okay and it will be removed. Now, I have got it done twice here. So I have repeated this. I have to do the same thing. This time I am going to right-click and choose Uninstall and click OK and it's very quickly removed. Just like that.
So close up Device Manager and talk about one last scenario. If you got a really old device, you probably don't want to use it anyways, but if you can't let go the old device, you want to plug it into your computer here on Windows 7 and the driver can't be found, you are going to have to go to that manufacturer's website to try to find the driver, download it from there. Windows 7, once it's downloaded and installed will be very good at finding it and picking it up and allowing your device to work, but not every single device in the world is going to be able to work.
Some of those old ones just need to be let go and continue working with your newer devices here in Windows 7.
- Running Windows XP programs within a Windows 7 installation Accessing favorites quickly through jump lists Establishing user settings through Windows Explorer Setting up a home network with Homegroup Displaying similar sites with suggestions in Internet Explorer 8 Syncing photos on two computers with Live Sync
Skill Level Beginner
Q: Is there a way to share files and printers between computers on network running Windows XP and Windows 7 without using the HomeGroup share method of Windows 7, since XP does not have this feature?
A: While Windows XP does not support the new HomeGroup found in Windows 7, there is another way to share files and printers between the two operating systems. There are a number of steps to follow, but they are all listed here: www.howtogeek.com/howto/windows-7/share-files-and-printers-between-windows-7-and-xp/
Q: Is it possible for a computer running Windows XP to join a Windows 7 HomeGroup?
A: Unfortunately, only Windows 7 supports HomeGroup. If the Windows XP computer must connect with the Windows 7 computer, there are have two options:
1. Upgrade the XP machine to Windows 7 and joining will be no problem.
2. Change the Windows 7 HomeGroup to a regular Workgroup and the XP machine will be able to connect to it.
Here are the steps to changing a HomeGroup to a Workgroup:
- On the Windows 7 computer, click the Start button at the bottom left of the screen.
- Go to the Control Panel and choose Network and Sharing Center.
- Click the link for "View your active networks.”
- In the next window choose "Work network." That will switch the group from a HomeGroup to a Workgroup so the two computers can talk to each other. However, the same workgroup name and share folders in Explorer must be assigned to both computers before they can be networked.