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How to fix black screen problems on Windows 10

Windows 10 with black screen
Windows 10 with black screen (Image credit: Future)

On Windows 10, a black screen is among the most challenging problems you can face on your device because it won't give an error code or message you can use to determine the root of the cause to fix it quickly.

Although a black screen could appear due to many problems, it's usually related to a graphics driver or compatibility issues with a new feature update. It could also happen when the computer installs a buggy update. Or it could end up being a hardware-related problem with the video adapter, display, or physical connection.

Whatever the reason, Windows 10 provides several ways to check and solve this problem, whether you have access to the desktop or the system doesn't start correctly.

In this Windows 10 guide, we will walk you through the instructions to troubleshoot and fix black screen problems on your computer.

How to fix black screen checking connection problems on Windows 10

When a black screen appears, there are many aspects to consider, including problems with hardware or software. These instructions outline the steps to troubleshoot and resolve the most common issues on Windows 10.

Check connection issues

If the problem surfaces before signing into Windows 10, it's likely a problem with the connection between the device and the display.

You can resolve this issue by double-checking the physical connection, ensuring that both ends of the video signal cable are correctly connected in the correct in and out ports. Disconnecting and reconnecting the video cable and shaking the mouse can also help wake up the display.

While it might be obvious for many people, re-check the monitor to make sure it's receiving power. (You may need to check your manufacturer support website for more specific details.)

If the video card has multiple outputs, try to use a different port and shake the mouse or press any key on the keyboard to wake up the monitor. While it is rare, a driver update could sometimes change the video signal to a different port (DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI, Thunderbolt, VGA) in the adapter.

(Image credit: Future)

In the case that the computer has both a discrete and integrated graphics card, you can try switching to the integrated video card to determine whether the discrete card is the problem. If you recently updated the UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) or BIOS (Basic Input/Output System), this can sometimes disable the discrete graphics card, which you can only enable again from the motherboard settings.

When you connect to an external monitor, open the control panel on the display to increase the brightness to resolve the black screen problem. It's also a good idea to check the monitor is using the correct input. (You may need to check the manufacturer support website for specific details.)

If the problem is happening on a laptop, use the keyboard key combo to increase the display brightness. Typically, you will need to press the Function (Fn) key and one of the functions keys like F8 or F10.

You can also try connecting the monitor to a different computer or using a different video cable to determine whether you are dealing with a broken display, graphics card, or damaged cable.

Detect display

A black screen could also happen because Windows 10 will lose its connection with the display. Using the Windows key + Ctrl + Shift + B keyboard shortcut can restart the video driver and refresh the connection with the monitor.

On specific devices (such as Surface Pro 8), you can wake up the screen by pressing the volume up and volume down buttons at the same time three times (quickly).

When you perform the wake action, you will hear a beep and activity on the screen indicating that Windows 10 can respond to the command and is trying to establish a new connection.

Alternatively, you can also use the Windows key + P keyboard shortcut to open the "Project" flyout menu. Then hit the P key again, and hit the Enter key to switch between the different display modes to see whether the black screen disappears. (You will need to repeat the steps four times to allow cycling through all the possible modes.)

(Image credit: Future)

If the black screen still appears, press and hold the power button for about 10 seconds to shut down the device. Then press the power button again to restart. (If you had documents open, you might lose unsaved content using this action.)

Disconnect non-essential devices

Connected peripherals may be the reason for the black screen or black screen with the spinning dots during startup. Typically, spinning dots during startup indicates that an update is installing, and you need to wait a few moments. However, if it takes a long time, it could be a compatibility problem with the hardware.

You can fix this problem by disconnecting all peripherals, including printers, cameras, removable drives, Bluetooth, the docking station, and other USB devices from the computer.

Once you disconnect the peripherals, restart the computer, and if it returns to normal, the problem is likely to be one of the devices. You can determine which component is causing the issue by reconnecting them one at a time until you find the conflict.

After finding the problematic peripheral, disconnect it, restart the computer, search online to find a solution, or contact the manufacturer for additional assistance.

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.