In the article How to disable automatic device driver updates in Windows 10, I suggested that advanced Windows users might want manage their own driver updates rather than allowing Windows Update to install the stripped down versions Microsoft provides. Those users might prefer to go directly to the device manufacturer's support site and download the most recent drivers. If you fall into that category of user, you'll need to stay on top of your drivers to make sure that you have the most current version available.
To accomplish this task, you'll want to use two tools built into Windows 10: Device Manager and a command-line tool called Driverquery. Each tool has its advantages and disadvantages, but by combining the two, you'll be able to overcome the disadvantages and have everything that you need to manage your own driver updates. While using Device Manager is easy, Driverquery is a bit more involved. Let's take a closer look.
Device Manager provides a well-designed tree display of all the devices in your system. And it's easy to use. You just drill down to a specific device and double-click to bring up a properties dialog. You then select the Driver tab and you can instantly find driver versions numbers, as shown in Figure A.
Device Manager allows you to easily find the driver version information.
While Device Manger is fine when you're looking for information on one specific device driver, it's not very efficient when you're interested in gathering information about a number of drivers—it's just too time consuming to drill down to every device. And there's no way to generate a listing of the drivers from Device Manager.
As I mentioned, Driverquery is command-line tool. While working from the command line isn't as simple as working from a GUI, the advantage here is that Driverquery can provide you with a detailed list of all the device drivers installed on your system, as shown in Figure B.
Driverquery gives you a detailed list of all the device drivers installed on your system.
By taking advantage of other command-line tricks, you can direct the list generated by Driverquery to a document or spreadsheet file so that you essentially have a complete report of all the drivers in your system. The only drawback with the list generated by Driverquery is that it doesn't provide you with driver version information.
The power of two
By combining the best of Driverquery and Device Manager, you should have everything that you need to manage your own driver updates. You will be able to generate reports with Driverquery and get driver version information from Device Manager.
As I mentioned, Driverquery is designed to provide detailed information about all the device drivers installed on your system. But to harness its power, you need to know how to use it.
As you would imagine, Driverquery offers several parameters that allow you to alter its default operation. For example, you can configure the tool to use a verbose mode, which provides additional details about the drivers, or you can configure it to give you detailed digital signature information about signed device drivers.
By default, Driverquery displays its report using a table format. However, you can use other parameters to configure the tool to display the report in a top-to-bottom list format or as a CSV (comma separated values) file format you can then open in a spreadsheet.
Since Driverquery is a command-line tool, your first step is to open a Command Prompt window. Once you do, you can launch the Driverquery tool with its default display by typing
on the command line.
Now, when you run Driverquery, there is absolutely too much output to view in the Command Prompt window, so you'll want to redirect the Driverquery tool's output to a data file you can open in a spreadsheet or a word processor. To redirect output from the screen to a data file, you use the redirect symbol ( > ) followed by a filename.
To format the output you'll use the /FO parameter, along with its switches. The LIST and TABLE switches generate data files that work well in a word processor, while the CSV switch will generate a data file suitable for a spreadsheet.
Running Driverquery without any parameters provides you with basic information about all the drivers in your system. If you want very detailed information, you'll use the /V parameter. If you want to see only information about signed drivers, you'll use the /SI parameter.
Now that you have an idea of the Driverquery tool's parameters and switches, let's take a look at some example commands.
To get a List data file you can open in a word processor, you would use the command:
Driverquery /fo list > driverlist.doc
To get a Table data file you can open in a word processor, you would use the command:
Driverquery /fo table > drivertable.doc
To get a data file you can open in your spreadsheet program, you would use the command:
Driverquery /fo csv > driversheet.csv
To get a very detailed or verbose List/Table/Spreadsheet of your drivers, you would use one of the following commands:
Driverquery /v /fo list > driverlist.doc Driverquery /v /fo table > drivertable.doc Driverquery /v /fo csv > driversheet.csv
To get a List/Table/Spreadsheet showing only signed drivers, you would use one of the following commands:
Driverquery /si /fo list > driverlist.doc Driverquery /si /fo table > drivertable.doc Driverquery /si /fo csv > driversheet.csv
To save time, you can copy any of the above commands and paste them in your Command Prompt window.
When you run any of these example commands, you'll find the data files in the folder displayed in the Command Prompt window. For instance, when I launch a Command Prompt window, it opens in the C:\Users\Greg folder. To make it easier to find the data files, I used the command:
which changed to the C:\Users\Greg\Desktop folder and allowed me to find all the data files right on my desktop.
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What's your take?
Now that you are familiar with the Driverquery tool and have several example command lines to experiment with, will you do so? Do you think that you'll find it to be a useful companion to Device Manager? Share your thoughts with fellow TechRepublic members.
Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.