How to Make Windows Troubleshoot Your PC’s Problems for You

Windows includes a variety of “troubleshooters” designed to quickly diagnose and automatically solve various computer problems. Troubleshooters can’t fix everything, but they’re a great place to start if you encounter a problem with your computer.

Troubleshooters are built into the Control Panel on Windows 10, 8, and 7, so practically all Windows users can take advantage of them. On Windows 10’s Creators Update, most troubleshooters are now available through the Settings app.

Windows 10

If you’ve installed Windows 10’s Creators Update, you’ll find these in Settings. Navigate to Settings > Update & Security > Troubleshoot.

As of the Creators Update, the following troubleshooters are available here: Blue Screen, Bluetooth, Hardware and Devices, HomeGroup, Incoming Connections, Internet Connections, Keyboard, Network Adapter, Printer, Playing Audio, Power, Program Compatibility Troubleshooter, Recording Audio, Search and Indexing, Shared Folders, Speech, Video Playback, Windows Store Apps, and Windows Update.

If something isn’t working properly on your PC, the associated troubleshooter may find and fix the problem for you.

Select the troubleshooter you want to run and click “Run Troubleshooter”. Many troubleshooters will run automatically and fix problems they find, while some troubleshooters will suggest various fixes you can choose whether to apply.

The Settings interface doesn’t list every available troubleshooter. For example, it omits the Background Intelligent Transfer service, Windows Media Player DVD, Windows Media Player Library, and Windows Media Player Settings troubleshooters.

These are still available if you need them—they’re just buried in the Control Panel. To find them, open the Control Panel, type “Troubleshoot” into its search box, and click the “Troubleshooting” icon.

Click “View all” at the left side of the Troubleshooting pane and you’ll see a full list of available troubleshooters.

Windows 7 and 8

You’ll find these tools in the Control Panel on Windows 7 and 8. You’ll also need to use the Control Panel if you’re using Windows 10’s Anniversary Update or an earlier version of Windows 10.

Navigate to Control Panel > System and Security > Troubleshoot Common Computer Problems. On Windows 7, click “Find and Fix Problems” instead.

You’ll see a list of the most common troubleshooters you might need.

These aren’t the only available troubleshooters. Click “View All” in the sidebar to view a full list of troubleshooters. Here’s a list of the troubleshooters you might find, although not all versions of Windows include the same troubleshooters:

  • Background Intelligent Transfer Service: Finds and fixes problems with the Background Intelligent Transfer Service, which Windows Update and some other services use for background downloads.
  • Hardware and Devices: Checks your computer for issues with hardware devices. If a hardware device–particularly a recently installed one–isn’t working properly, this troubleshooter can find and fix problems with hardware detection and drivers.
  • HomeGroup: Looks for problems with your HomeGroup network and file-sharing settings.
  • Incoming Connections: Checks if the Windows Firewall is blocking incoming connections you need and help you unblock them.
  • Internet Connections: Detects and fixes problems with your Internet connection and loading websites.
  • Internet Explorer Performance: Identifies problems that can slow down Internet Explorer and fixes them.
  • Internet Explorer Safety: Identifies settings that can cause security and privacy problems in Internet Explorer and fixes them.
  • Network Adapter: Finds and fixes issues with your Wi-Fi adapter or other network adapters.
  • Playing Audio: Scans for problems that can prevent sound from playing properly.
  • Power: Identifies and fixes problems with power settings to increase your computer’s battery life.
  • Printer: Checks for and fixes problems with printers and printing.
  • Program Compatability Troubleshooter: Helps you choose the best compatibility settings for running programs designed for older versions of Windows.
  • Recording Audio: Scans for problems that can prevent microphone audio recording from working.
  • Search and Indexing: Fixes problems with Windows Search and the indexer.
  • Shared Folders: Identifies issues that can prevent shared network folders from functioning.
  • System Maintenance: Finds and fixes broken shortcuts and performs and system maintenance tasks, including checking if your clock is the correct time.
  • Video Playback: Detects problems that can prevent videos from playing back properly and fixes them.
  • Windows Media Player DVD: Fixes issues that can prevent DVDs from playing in Windows Media Player.
  • Windows Media Player Library: Fixes issues with Windows Media Player’s media library.
  • Windows Media Player Settings: Fixes issues with Windows Media Player’s settings.
  • Windows Store Apps: Repairs problems that can prevent Windows Store apps–in other words, Windows 10’s new Universal Windows Platform apps–from working properly.
  • Windows Update: Identifies and fixes issues that can cause Windows Update to not work at all, or fail to install some updates.

To run a troubleshooter, just click it in the Troubleshooting pane. To quickly find a relevant troubleshooter, you can perform a search from the Troubleshooting window.

The troubleshooter will launch after you click it. Just click “Next” to begin troubleshooting.

Most troubleshooters will run automatically, looking for problems and fixing any issues they find. To prevent the troubleshooter from automatically making changes to your system, click the “Advanced” link at the bottom left corner of the troubleshooter window and uncheck the “Apply Repairs Automatically” option. You’ll be prompted with more information before the troubleshooter makes any changes to your system.

While most troubleshooters run automatically, some troubleshooters will give you options you need to click. For example, the Program Compatibility troubleshooter will walk you through choosing a program that isn’t working properly and changing its compatibility settings. The Incoming Connections troubleshooter will ask you what you’re trying to do so it know what type of incoming connection to troubleshoot.


That’s about it. There isn’t a troubleshooter for every issue you’ll encounter, and the troubleshooters that do exist won’t be able to fix every problem. But troubleshooters are a good place to start when you encounter a problem with something.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.