How To Enable a Device in Device Manager in Windows XP

Screenshot of a disabled hardware device in Windows XP
Enable Hardware Device in Windows XP.

All hardware in Device Manager must be enabled if you plan on using it.

If the device displays in Device Manager it means that Windows XP recognizes that the hardware exists but if it's not enabled, Windows can not assign system resources to it. If a device isn't using any resources, it can't be used.

Windows XP will alert you about hardware that is not enabled by showing a red x in Device Manager next to the disabled hardware.

Disabled devices will also generate a Code 22 error in Device Manager.

Follow these easy steps to enable a hardware device from within Device Manager in Windows XP:

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: Enabling a hardware device in Device Manager in Windows XP usually takes less than a few minutes

Here's How:

  1. Open Device Manager from the Windows XP Computer Management utility.

    Note: There are several other ways of opening Device Manager in addition to the one above. It's the exact same Device Manager no matter how you get to it but you may find it easier to access using one of these other methods.

  2. With Device Manager open, locate the hardware device you want to enable.

    Note: Navigate through the hardware categories by clicking the [+] icon. Specific pieces of hardware are listed under the major hardware categories.

  3. Once you've found the hardware you're looking for, right click on the hardware's name or icon and choose Properties.

  1. Locate the Device usage: drop-down box at the very bottom of this Properties window for your hardware.

    Note: The Device usage dropdown box should currently show Do not use this device (disable).

  2. Change the Device usage option to Use this device (enable).

  3. Click OK.

    This piece of hardware should now be enabled.

  1. You should now be returned to the main Device Manager window and the red x should be gone.

    If a yellow exclamation point appears after the red x disappears, you should troubleshoot that issue separately. The yellow exclamation point is a warning of a different kind of issue with your hardware's configuration.

    Note: You can verify that the hardware should be working properly by checking the device status in Device Manager.


  1. Not a Windows XP user? See How to Enable a Device in Device Manager in Windows for links to steps specific for your operating system.