Fixing a yellow exclamation point in Device Manager

Do you see a yellow exclamation mark next to a device in Device Manager? Don’t worry, it’s not that rare and doesn’t necessarily mean you have to replace anything.

In fact, there are dozens of reasons why a yellow exclamation mark might appear in Device Manager, some more serious than others, but usually well within anyone’s abilities to fix, or at least troubleshoot.

What’s that yellow exclamation point in Device Manager?

A yellow exclamation mark next to a device in Device Manager means that Windows has identified some kind of problem with that device.

The yellow exclamation mark indicates the current state of a device and can mean a system resource conflict, a driver issue, or frankly just about anything else.

Unfortunately, the yellow mark itself doesn’t give you any valuable information but what it does do is confirm that something called a Device Manager error code has been logged and associated with that particular device.

Fortunately, there aren’t many DM error codes out there, and the ones that do exist are pretty clear and straightforward. What this means, then, is that whatever problem is going on with the hardware, or with Windows’ ability to work with the hardware, at least you’ll have clear direction on what to do.

Therefore, before you can fix, or at least try to fix, whatever problem is occurring, you’ll need to look at this special code, determine what it’s referring to, and then troubleshoot accordingly.

Viewing the Device Manager error code that was generated for any piece of hardware is very easy to do. Just go to the device’s Properties and then read the code in the Device status area , especially if you’re having trouble finding where that code is registered.

Once you know what the specific error code is, you can refer to our list of Device Manager error codes to find out what to do next. Typically, this means finding the code in that list, and then following any specific troubleshooting information we have available that is specific to that error.

Learn more about error icons in Device Manager

If you’re really paying attention to Device Manager, you may have noticed that this indicator isn’t a yellow exclamation mark at all; it is actually a black exclamation point on a yellow background , similar to the caution sign in the illustration on this page. The yellow background is shaped like a triangle in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista operating systems, and a circle in Windows XP.

We are also often asked about the “yellow question mark” in Device Manager. The yellow question mark does not appear as a warning indicator, but as a full-size device icon. The yellow question mark appears when a device is detected but not installed. This problem can almost always be resolved by updating your device drivers.

There’s also a green question mark that can appear in some very specific situations, but only on Windows Millennium Edition (ME), a version of Windows, released in September 2000, that hardly anyone has installed yet.