PnPUtil.exe: What is It & How to Properly Use It?

Manage device drivers in Windows using this utility

by Srishti Sisodia
Srishti Sisodia
Srishti Sisodia
Srishti Sisodia is an electronics engineer and writer with a passion for technology. She has extensive experience exploring the latest technological advancements and sharing her insights through informative... read more
Reviewed by Alex Serban
Alex Serban
Alex Serban
Windows Server & Networking Expert
After moving away from the corporate work-style, Alex has found rewards in a lifestyle of constant analysis, team coordination and pestering his colleagues. Holding an MCSA Windows Server... read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • The PnP in PnPUtil stands for Plug and Play which enables automatic detection and installation of hardware devices and their associated drivers.
  • It can be accessed using Command Prompt or PowerShell to install, uninstall, export, and query information about device drivers.
pnputil-exe (1)
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PnPUtil.exe is a command-line utility tool that comes with the Microsoft Windows operating system, starting with Windows Vista, which enables users to manage device drivers and driver packages.

In this guide, we’ll provide a detailed overview of PnPUtil.exe, explain how it works, and show you how to properly use it to manage device drivers in Windows.

What is PnPUtil.exe?

PnPUtil.exe is a command-line tool that provides a wide range of functionalities, including installing, uninstalling, exporting, and querying information about drivers and driver packages.

It can be used to update existing drivers, install unsigned drivers, and enable or disable device drivers.

However, as PnPUtil.exe is a command-line tool, it can be difficult for novice users to use it effectively.

How to use PnPUtil.exe?

Here are a few preliminary checks you should do before using the utility tool:

  • You are logged in to an account with administrative privileges.
  • Must have a driver package on your system.
  • If you want to install an unsigned driver, you should first disable driver signature enforcement on your system.

Now that you have checked all these things let us know how to use the tool.

  1. Press the Windows key, type cmd, and click Open.Command Prompt Click Open  pnputil.exe
  2. Type the following command to navigate to the directory containing PnPUtil.exe and press Enter: cd C:\Windows\System32
  3. To view a list of installed drivers on your system, copy and paste the following command and hit Enter: pnputil -epnputil.exe Command Prompt
  4. You will get a list of all the installed drivers on your computer, along with their publishers, version, and more.
  5. To install a driver package, type the following command after replacing <path_to_driver_inf_file> with the full path to the driver INF file you want to install, and press Enter: pnputil -i -a <path_to_driver_inf_file>cmd import pnputil.exe
  6. Copy & paste the following command after replacing <name_of_driver_package> with the name of the driver package you want to uninstall and hit Enter: pnputil -f -d <name_of_driver_package>Uninstall device
  7. To export a driver package to a text file named <exported_file_name>, type the following command after replacing <name_of_driver_package> with the name of the driver package you want to export and press Enter: pnputil -e -u <name_of_driver_package> > <exported_file_name>.txtExport information about the driver package
  8. Copy & paste the following command to query information about a specific driver package after replacing <path_to_driver_inf_file> with the full path to the driver INF file you want to query and hit Enter: pnputil -a <path_to_driver_inf_file>Install the driver

So, these are the steps you can use PnPUtil.exe to manage device drivers in Windows. You must remember that some PnPUtil.exe commands may require administrator privileges.

However, if the PnPUtil tool seems a bit too complicated, you can use one of the best driver updater software from our list.

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to mention them in the comments section below.

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