Windows 10

​The Windows 10 Device Manager is getting a helpful upgrade that makes it easier to uninstall a specific driver by seeing what devices are using it.

When Windows 10 detects a new hardware component, it will attempt to find a compatible driver to initialize the hardware in the operating system. If a driver that is already being used can be used to initialize another device, Windows 10 will use it as well.

When installing a hardware driver, the operating system reads its Setup Information File, or ‘.inf’ file, which contains information on how the driver should be installed.

A driver's inf file
A driver’s inf file

In the latest Windows 10 Insider ‘Dev’ channel builds, Microsoft has added a new feature to the Device Manager that warns you that the operating system may not uninstall a driver if other devices use it.

As you can see below, when we attempted to uninstall the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 device, it warned that Windows 10 may not remove the “Driver if it is still in use by other devices.”

New driver uninstall prompt
New driver uninstall prompt

This prompt then suggests you change the Device Manager to a new ‘Devices by driver’ view that lists the in-use .inf files and devices using them.

This new ‘Devices by driver’ view mode allows you to easily see all devices using a particular driver and uninstall each one to ultimately remove the associated driver.

Devices by driver Device Manager view mode
Devices by driver Device Manager view mode

As discovered by a Reddit user, in addition to the ‘Devices by driver’ view mode, Microsoft has also added a ‘Drivers by type’ and a ‘Drives by device’ view modes to show the same information in different ways.

New View modes in Device Manager
New View modes in Device Manager

For example, the ‘Drivers by type’ view mode will group the .inf driver files by the type of device.

Drivers by type Device Manager view mode
Drivers by type Device Manager view mode

The other view mode, ‘Drivers by device,’ will switch it around and display the .inf files under the name of the device using it.

Drivers by device view mode
Drivers by device view mode

These new views are a useful and interesting feature as it allows you to see the specific ‘inf’ file used to install the driver and what devices need to be uninstalled to fully remove it.

This new feature is likely slated for the Windows 10 Sun Valley update coming in Fall 2021.