Secret Windows Hotkey Restarts Your Graphics Card Drivers

Windows has a secret keyboard shortcut that restarts your video drivers. If your PC ever freezes, try this shortcut before restarting your PC—it could fix freezes that would otherwise require forcibly restarting your computer.

This key combination restarts the graphics subsystem on Windows 10 and Windows 8. There’s no keyboard shortcut for restarting your graphics drivers on Windows 7.

How to Restart Your PC’s Graphics Drivers

To restart your graphics drivers, press Win+Ctrl+Shift+B on your keyboard.

Your screen will go black for a split second and you’ll hear a beep. Everything will then reappear just as it was before you pressed the hotkey. All your current applications remain open, and you won’t lose any work.

We even tried this shortcut while playing a PC game. The game kept running properly after we used the shortcut. That’s because Windows just restarts the graphics subsystem. All your applications are left alone and will continue running normally.

This keyboard shortcut is part of the Windows 10 operating system, so it will restart NVIDIA, AMD, and Intel graphics drivers. Whatever graphics hardware your PC has, it will work.

How to Recover From a Freeze

There’s no guarantee that this will fix a system freeze. However, if your computer froze because of a problem with your graphics drivers, this shortcut may fix it. This shortcut can fix freezes that occur while playing 3D games, but it can also recover from freezes that occur while you’re just using your PC normally. Windows 10 uses your graphics hardware to accelerate the drawing of your desktop and even modern web browsers use it to speed up web page rendering.

If you see a black screen or you’re stuck in an unresponsive full-screen game, be sure to try the Ctrl+Alt+Delete shortcut after restarting your graphics drivers. You can also try pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open the Task Manager directly, or press Alt+Tab or Win+Tab to try switching applications.

If your computer doesn’t respond to any of these keyboard shortcuts, even after you restart its graphics driver, you’ll probably need to perform a hard shutdown. To do so, press your computer’s power button and hold it down for about ten seconds, until the PC powers off. Wait a few seconds before turning the PC back on with the power button. It’s not good for your computer to power it off in this way, but this is all you can do if your PC is frozen.

Of course, if you see a blue screen of death, this shortcut won’t help. The blue screen of death indicates that your Windows operating system has completely crashed, and all you can do is restart your PC.

Image Credit: Radu Bercan/Shutterstock.com.

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 Twitter.