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How to Uninstall Drivers on Windows 10

How to uninstall drivers on Windows 10? Removing drivers in windows 10 is a different ball game than uninstalling applications and programs. The Windows operating system is a little bit unyielding in revealing how to do so.

The reason for that is because drivers are critical to running your overall Windows experience and all the features and functionalities you need. They’re the middleman between your hardware (such as printers, USBs, graphics card, etc.); drivers makes them talk to your operating system and communicate what they’re supposed to do. For instance, “Network Adapter” drivers are responsible for your Internet connection.

If none of this makes sense to you, think about it this way: Drivers are like the gas your car needs to run its engine. In this case, your engine can be considered a hardware, the gas your driver, and the car, as your Windows 10 operating system.

Now that you have an idea of what drivers are (hopefully), let’s discuss how to get rid of them.

How to Uninstall Drivers in Windows 10?

Similar to how there is an interface (“add or remove programs”) for uninstalling programs, there is one for drivers too — called “Device Manager.” Technically, its purpose is not to just uninstall the drivers, but more so for diagnostic reasons. The ability to get rid of drivers from here is just an added benefit.

To do so, as you might have guessed, you need to navigate to Device Manager. There are multiple ways to get there, but to keep things simple, you can search for it in the start menu, and then, open the recommended “Best Match.”

opening windows 10 device manager from the start menu
Search for “Device Manager” in Windows Start Menu.

***Note: There is a way to remove some drivers in a typical add or remove/uninstalling a program interface, but your options are minimal. I will touch on this aspect as well once we cover the primer of this post.

What to Do in Device Manager

The Device Manager will typically contain the full list of all your hardwares and peripherals — along with the associated drivers. See the screenshot below for reference.

device manager full list of hardwares and peripherals
Windows 10 Device Manager typically has your full list of hardwares and peripherals, as well as the drivers associated with each.

Step 1

Once you have the Device Manager in front of you, you’d have to find either the hardware (for example, a graphics card), or a peripheral (such as, an external keyword).

Step 2

Then, you’d have to click on the arrow drop-down to open up the list of drivers.
Chances are, there might be more than 1 driver. If you intend to completely eliminate every single item associated with your hardware or the peripheral, you can feel free to uninstall all the related drivers.

Step 3

To uninstall, right-click on a driver, and select “uninstall device.”

Taking this action will lead you to a confirmation pop-up. Hit uninstall again, to proceed forward.

uninstall device confirmation dialog

If everything worked the way it’s supposed to, then voila, you just uninstalled a driver/device!

Take note that upon completion of your task, it’s a best practice to restart your device. In most of the cases, you’d need administrator level privileges to remove a driver.

***How to Remove Drivers Through the Regular Add or Remove Programs Feature

Again, as stated, leveraging the device manager is the most suitable option; however, if you’re used to the usual add or remove program feature, you can uninstall a few handpicked drivers with this method as well. Follow along to learn how.

Step 1

Navigate to the add or remove feature. From there, select “programs and features” under “Related settings.”

windows 10 programs and features
Select Programs and Features; the option in blue text.

Step 2

Once you’re taken to that dialog box, you’ll see a list of programs. In the same list, you might be able to find a few drivers. As an example, I can see my Intel® Graphics Driver.

uninstalling drivers from add or remove programs

Step 3

Follow all the same procedures as you normally do when uninstalling a regular application or a program, and finally, restart your laptop.

Why Might One Need to Uninstall Drivers?

There can be a few reasons for it:

  1. Some specific driver, for some weird reason, is causing issues with your entire Windows 10 experience. Say, for instance, you don’t even have a printer; but its drivers are causing problems.
  2. Following up on that, say you never want to use Bluetooth. In that case, you don’t need its drivers.
  3. You’re trying to diagnose a specific issue.
  4. You simply don’t want anything extra on your device, other than what you need. It can be about principle too, right?

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Conclusion

Getting rid of drivers in Windows 10 is not as complicated as you might think. Although, it’s not straightforward, unless you know where to look.

As a best practice, I’d recommend the following:

  1. Ensure you have all your backups handy, in case something goes wrong. Drivers, after all, are sort of similar to system services/files/drivers. You could accidentally mess something up. Although, in all honesty, the only thing that can go bad is something stops working, for example, your Wi-Fi. In that scenario, have a plan in place to re-install the drivers for it.
    • Related to it, there is an option to Roll Back a Driver to its previous version, too, in case you believe an update is causing an issue. I didn’t cover how to do so here, but super high-level, this functionality can be accessed from Device Manager itself. All you have to do is right-click on the driver > select properties > and navigate to the “Driver” Tab.
  2. Ensure you have administrative privileges. Otherwise, you may not be able to remove things.
  3. In the end, restart your device/laptop/computer.