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Add Hardware Wizard \windows\system\hdwwiz.cpl

Detect non-plug-and-play devices and install the appropriate drivers.

To Open

Control Panel Add Hardware

Command Prompt hdwwiz.cpl


When you turn on your computer, Windows automatically scans for any newly added plug-and-play (PnP) devices and installs drivers for any that are found. If you’re trying to install a device that isn’t detected automatically, you’ll need to run the Add Hardware Wizard (see Figure 4-5).

Figure 4-5. If Windows doesn’t detect your newly installed hardware automatically, you’ll need to use the Add Hardware Wizard

When you start the Add Hardware Wizard and click Next, it goes through the following steps:

  1. The wizard scans your system for any newly attached PnP devices. If one or more devices are found, the appropriate drivers are located and installed. This process happens every time Windows is started.

  2. If no new devices are found in Step 1, you’ll be asked if the device has been connected to the system yet. If you choose no, the wizard quits.

  3. The next step, assuming you selected yes in Step 2, displays a list of all of your existing devices. If you select one of the devices and click Next, the wizard will quit. Instead, scroll to the bottom of the list and select “Add a new hardware device” and click Next.

  4. Your next choice is between having Windows search for and install your new hardware, or having it present a list from which you can manually select a driver. Choose the first option, “Search for and install...” if you don’t already have a driver. Otherwise, choose the second option, “Install the hardware...,” and click Next.

  5. Chose the category of the device, or just select Show All Devices if you’re feeling lazy, and click Next.

  6. If you have the drivers for the device, either on a floppy, a CD, or on your hard disk, click Have Disk at this point. Otherwise, choose the manufacturer of the device from the list on the left and then the specific model number from the list on the right. If your device doesn’t show up here, then drivers for it aren’t included with Windows XP.

  7. The last steps involve copying and installing the drivers, and then prompting you to restart (if applicable).


  • When Windows discovers new hardware, either during startup or when using the Add Hardware Wizard, you’ll usually be prompted to specify a driver. The “Install Software Automatically” option is usually the best choice, as it will attempt to use one of Window’s built-in drivers. If no compatible driver can be found, you’ll be prompted to insert a disk or point to a folder containing appropriate drivers, either shipped with the hardware product or downloaded from the manufacturer’s web site, respectively.

  • When installing some drivers, Windows XP may complain that the driver is not digitally signed. This confusing and rather harsh message simply informs you that the manufacturer of the driver you’re installing hasn’t added a digital signature to the driver software, which, in most cases, will pose no problem. Just click Continue Anyway to proceed. See the “Signature Verification Tool”, later in this chapter, for more information on driver signing.

  • See “Control Panel”, later in this chapter, for information on finding Add Hardware when using the Control Panel in Category View.

  • Some new devices, especially printers and USB peripherals, have specific installation procedures that must be followed. For example, you may need to install the included software first, and then connect the device. When Windows detects the device, the drivers are already in place and installation proceeds without a hitch. Make sure you review the installation instructions before you resort to the Add Hardware Wizard.

See Also

“Control Panel”

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