photo of a white keyboard and a black mouse

How to troubleshoot computer peripherals

No matter how well you take care of your computer, eventually something will go wrong. And the problem won’t always be the hardware itself, but maybe something you’ve plugged it into.

Peripherals (mouses, keyboards, gamepads, webcams, printers) can be a nuisance sometimes – they can stop working or cause problems with the hardware and software on your computer.

But before you make a (potentially expensive) call to a tech support professional, try to troubleshoot your gadget yourself. There are a few steps that can come in handy in all scenarios, and this may make your device work properly again.

Do some tests

Before troubleshooting any technical issue, you need to know exactly where the problem is. The best way to do this is to test your terminal in another computer. Don’t skip this step—even if it means you have to go to a friend or relative’s house to use their device. If your peripheral works, then you know that the problem is with your device and not the gadget.

[Related: Best wireless mechanical keyboards of 2022]

Take a similar approach with anything that connects to a Wi-Fi network, such as a printer. Before you begin to disconnect the peripheral device, make sure that your wireless network is still turned on. A good way to do this is to connect any other device to your home Wi-Fi network, such as a tablet or smartphone, and check if you can still connect to the Internet.

Knowing more about the problem won’t necessarily change your approach to trying to fix it – but it can. If your keyboard works on your laptop but not on your desktop computer, for example, you should start by checking the settings and programs on your desktop before you tackle anything about the keyboard itself.

Check system settings

If your peripherals are working on other computers, or if they are working fine and suddenly develop crashes, proceed by checking the relevant settings in Windows or macOS. This will help you determine if your computer is properly recognizing peripheral devices and will ensure that they are set up the way you want them to.

On Windows, head to Bluetooth and devices From Settings, where you will find options to configure a file the mouseThe The touchpadand other devices. We can’t cover all options in detail here, but we’ll use the printer that has persistent problems as an example. click Printers and Scanners And select a device: You can then tap print test page To check the connection or Run the troubleshooter To perform a series of key checks on the device.

On macOS, you can find a similar set of options by opening a file apple menu, selection System Preferences, and navigate to the relevant screen of your terminal. Let’s say you’re having problems with the attached Bluetooth keyboard — click keyboard To make sure your computer knows it’s connected and to check key configuration (including key repeat speeds). You may not always be able to find a solution here, but it’s worth checking out.

Download new drivers

Drivers are small pieces of software that can make a big difference in how peripheral devices interact with your device. They are basically the bridge between the external device and your computer system, making sure that they communicate properly and get the exchange of information they need.

Most of the time, the driver is installed and updated behind the scenes, so you don’t have to worry about that – just plug in a new webcam, for example, and it’s up and running. But sometimes something goes wrong, and installing or reinstalling drivers can restart everything properly.

To get started, head over to your peripheral manufacturer’s official website to find the latest drivers for your device – you’ll likely find what you’re looking for on a software or support page. To go back to the previous example, if you have a Logitech webcam connected to your computer, you can find the relevant software On the support page. Simply download the file, open it, and follow the instructions.

Unplug everything else

In a perfect world, the peripherals would come together without any problems, but conflicts would arise. Sometimes, for whatever reason, installing a new device causes problems for an existing device, and both can end up not working properly. If you recently made a change to your computer and something stopped working, the culprit might be any other hardware you got.

To determine exactly what is causing the problem, you will need to do some detective work. Try to turn off your computer, and disconnect everything that is connected to it. Restart the computer and reconnect the problematic terminal. If it appears to be fixed, it may be having a problem with another peripheral somewhere along the line.

Reconnect your other devices one at a time to see if you can determine where the conflict occurred. If the problem persists, try downloading the latest drivers for each device and check with the manufacturers for support.

Unfortunately, if the problem persists and device makers have not yet offered a fix, you may not be able to use these two terminals together.

Reinstall the device

Turning a gadget off and on again is a cliché to technically troubleshoot, but only because it’s so effective. Likewise, uninstalling a device from your system and then reinstalling it from scratch can often solve problems, reset everything that went wrong and clear any data that might have been corrupted or misplaced.

[Related: Best wireless mice in 2022]

For some peripherals, like a wired mouse, it’s just a matter of unplugging it and plugging it back in. For others, such as webcams and printers, you will need to uninstall them properly from your system. On Windows, head over to Bluetooth and devices and then Hardware from settings; On macOS, open System Preferences From apple menu, and then tap the type of peripheral device you want to remove.

You may also need to uninstall a related software (or two) as well as the device before you connect it again. From Windows Settings, choose apps And the Applications and Featuresthen click the three dots next to the program and uninstall to remove it. If you are using macOS, head over to Applications In the Finder, drag the program down to the Trash icon in the dock to get rid of it. After doing that, restart your computer before reinstalling the terminal.

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