Why is there a black arrow in Device Manager?

A black arrow next to a hardware device in Windows Device Manager is probably not something to worry too much about.

You may have made a change on purpose that resulted in the display of that black arrow. However, it may mean that there is actually a problem.

No matter how the black arrow appears in Device Manager, there is usually a very simple solution.

What does the black arrow in Device Manager mean?

A black arrow next to a device in Device Manager in Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, or Windows Vista means that the device is disabled.

In Windows XP, the equivalent of a black arrow is a red x. Read Why is there a red X in Device Manager? for more information about it.

If you see a black arrow, it does not necessarily mean there is a hardware problem. The black arrow just means that Windows does not allow the use of the hardware and has not allocated any system resources for use by the hardware.

If you have disabled the hardware manually, that is why the black arrow is displayed for you.

How to fix black arrow in Device Manager

Since the black arrow is displayed in Device Manager, which is also where a hardware device is enabled for Windows to use, it doesn’t take much to remove the black arrow and use the device normally.

To remove the black arrow from a particular piece of hardware, you will need to enable the device in Device Manager.

The red x in Windows XP Device Manager is resolved the same way, by enabling the hardware device. Read our How to Enable a Device in Device Manager tutorial if you need help doing this.

Read on below if you have enabled the device in Device Manager and the black arrow is gone, but the device is still not working as it should – there may be other things you can try.

Learn more about Device Manager and disabled devices

If there really is a problem with the hardware, and it’s not just disabled, then the black arrow will probably be replaced by a yellow exclamation mark after the device is enabled.

A Device Manager error code is generated when a device is disabled. It’s code 22, which says, “This device is disabled.”

Aside from a device being disabled, the hardware driver is another thing that affects whether Windows can communicate with a device. A device may not have a black arrow and therefore be enabled, but still not function as required. In a scenario like this, the driver may be outdated or missing altogether, in which case updating/installing the driver would make it work again.

If a device still doesn’t work after you activate it, you can try removing it from Device Manager and restarting your computer. This will force Windows to recognize it as a new device. You can then update the drivers if it still doesn’t work at that point.

Device Manager can be opened in the usual way via Control Panel, but there is also a command line command you can use, which you can read about here.