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Windows 10 with black backgroundSource: Windows Central

Throughout the life of your Windows 10 device, you'll come across many problems, but none of them may be as annoying as the black screen because you won't get an error code or message giving you a hint of where to start troubleshooting.

On Windows 10, a black screen can happen for many reasons. It could be related to an issue with a recent graphics driver update or physical connection between the display and video adapter. Also, you may experience this behavior while upgrading to a new feature update or applying a new cumulative update. Or it can just happen out of the blue.

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Whatever the reason it may be, there are several ways in which you can determine the cause and solve this problem, whether you have access to the desktop or not.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through a series of instructions to troubleshoot and fix black screen problems on your computer.

How to fix black screen troubleshooting connection problems on Windows 10

When you see a black screen on your computer, there could be a lot of reasons for this behavior, including problems with hardware, software, or a combination of both. In the instructions outlined below, you'll find troubleshooting steps to resolve this issue.

Checking connection issues

If your device is experiencing a black screen before you can even sign into your account, then it could be a connection problem between the display and computer.

In this situation, re-check the connection and make sure both ends of the signal cable are connected correctly, the monitor is receiving power, and it's using the correct output. (You can check your manufacturer support website for more specific details.)

If you have multiple video outputs, try to switch the connection to a different port and move the mouse around or press any key on the keyboard to wake up the display. A lot of times, a driver update could include changes, which for unknown reasons, can send the video signal to the wrong port (DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI, Thunderbolt, VGA).

Dell XPS 15 9570Source: Windows Central

In the case that you're working with a system that includes a discrete and integrated graphics card, you can switch to the embedded video processor to confirm whether the problem is with the discrete card.

When using an external monitor, you can open the on-board monitor settings and make sure to increase the brightness as it may be the reason for the black screen. While in the settings menu, it's also a good idea to check if the monitor is using the correct input. (If you don't know how to access your monitor settings, check your manufacturer support website for specific details.)

Another troubleshooting step that you can try includes connecting the monitor to a different computer to see if you're dealing with a broken display or video card.

Detecting display

In many cases, you may see a black screen as a result of Windows 10 losing its connection with the display. You can use the Windows key + Ctrl + Shift + B keyboard shortcut, which restarts the video driver and refreshes the connection with the monitor.

On tablets (such as the Surface Pro 7), you can wake up the screen pressing the volume up and volume down buttons simultaneously three times quickly.

Windows 10 Project paneSource: Windows Central

When you perform this action, you'll hear a beep and activity on the screen indicating that Windows 10 is responding to the command and re-establishing connection with the display.

Alternatively, assuming that Windows 10 is responsive, you can use the Windows key + P keyboard shortcut to bring up the "Project" menu, then hit the P key, and hit the Enter key to switch between the different display modes to see if the black screen disappears. Repeat the steps four times to allow cycling through all the possible settings.

Disconnecting non-essential devices

Peripherals connected to your device could be the reason for a black screen or black screen with the spinning dots during startup.

If you're experiencing something similar, disconnect all the peripherals (such as printers, cameras, removable drives, Bluetooth, and other USB devices) from your computer.

Restart your computer one more time, and if everything works normally, then you have a problem with one of your peripherals. You can find out which one is causing the problem by reconnecting one peripheral at a time until you stumble upon the one causing the conflict.

Once you know the device causing the issue, disconnect it, restart your computer, and then search online to see if there's a fix, or contact your device manufacturer for additional assistance.

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How to fix black screen with desktop access on Windows 10

If you see a black screen after signing into your account, and you're still able to use the mouse pointer, then it could be a problem with the Windows Explorer process.

To resolve Windows Explorer process issues, use these steps:

  1. Use the Ctrl + Shift + Esc keyboard shortcut to open Task Manager.
  2. Click the More details button (if you're using the compact mode).
  3. Click the Processes tab.
  4. Right-click the Windows Explorer service, and select the Restart option.

    Windows ExplorerSource: Windows Central

After you complete the steps, you should be able to access the desktop again.

Terminating and restarting explorer.exe

Alternatively, if the above steps didn't work, you can terminate and start the process again using these steps:

  1. Use the Ctrl + Alt + Delete keyboard shortcut to open Task Manager.
  2. Click the More details button (if using the compact mode).
  3. Right-click the Windows Explorer service, and select the End task option (if available).
  4. Click the File menu.
  5. Select the Run new task option.
  6. Type the following command and click the OK button.

    explorer.exe

    Restart ExplorerSource: Windows Central

Once you complete the steps, you should be able to use your device normally.

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How to fix black screen using safe mode on Windows 10

In the case that there's a software-related issue, and you don't have access to the desktop, you will need to use "Advanced startup" on your computer to boot in safe mode to troubleshoot and fix the black screen problem.

Accessing Advanced startup using three-fail boot method

To launch the Advanced startup settings, use these steps:

  1. Start your device.
  2. As soon as the Windows logo appears on your screen, press the power button to interrupt the boot sequence.

    Windows 10 boot logoSource: Windows Central

  3. Repeat steps No. 1 and 2 two more times.

After the third interruption, Windows 10 will open into the Advanced Startup environment, and then you can continue with the steps below to boot in safe mode.

Accessing Advanced startup using bootable media

Alternatively, you can use a USB installation media to get to the Advanced startup settings environment using these steps:

  1. Start your computer using a USB installation media.

    • Quick tip: If your device isn't starting from the USB flash drive, you'll need to change the motherboard's BIOS settings to make sure it can boot from USB. Usually, you can access the BIOS by powering up your device and pressing one of the functions, Delete, or ESC keys, but make sure to check your manufacturer's support website for more specific details.
  2. Click the Next button.
  3. Click the Repair your computer link in the bottom-left corner.

    Windows 10 SetupSource: Windows Central

Once you complete the steps, continue with the instructions to access safe mode on Windows 10.

Booting in safe mode

To boot Windows 10 in safe mode while in Advanced startup, use these steps:

  1. Click the Troubleshoot option.
  2. Click the Advanced options button.
  3. Click the Startup Settings option.

    Advanced Startup settingsSource: Windows Central

  4. Click the Restart button.

    Startup settings restart optionSource: Windows Central

  5. While in the "Startup Settings," press the 5 or F5 key to select the Safe Mode with Networking option.

    Enable Safe mode with NetworkingSource: Windows Central

After your device is in safe mode, there are several troubleshooting steps that can help you to fix the black screen problem, such as reinstalling the graphics driver, removing buggy updates, changing system settings, and more (as shown below).

Perform clean boot

When your device starts normally, Windows 10 loads many services, drivers, and applications, which remain running in the background, if one or more them is causing issues, it's possible that you will come across a black screen.

Using a clean boot allows you to instruct Windows 10 to start only with a minimal set of services, drivers, and apps, which can help you to figure out if something running in the background is the cause of the screen going completely black.

A clean boot is similar to safe mode, but it allows you to re-enable one service or software at a time, which can help to pinpoint the problem more accurately.

To perform a clean boot, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for msconfig, select the System Configuration item in the result to open the experience.
  3. Click the Services tab.
  4. Check the Hide all Microsoft services option.
  5. Click the Disable all button.

    System configuration servicesSource: Windows Central

  6. Click the Apply button.
  7. Click the Startup tab.
  8. Click the Open Task Manager option.
  9. Click the Startup tab.
  10. Select each application, and click the Disable button in the bottom-right corner.

    Disable startup servicesSource: Windows Central

  11. Close Task Manager.
  12. Click the OK button in the "System Configuration" experience.
  13. Restart your computer.

While this process won't fix the problem, it'll give you an idea of where to start looking to resolve the issue.

If, after restarting your computer, you no longer see a black screen, you'll now know that there's a problem with one of the background processes.

Troubleshooting black screen using clean boot

In this case, use these steps to re-enable the items (one-by-one), and restart your device to see which one is causing the black screen:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for msconfig, select the System Configuration item in the result to open the experience.
  3. Click the Services tab.
  4. Check the Hide all Microsoft services option.
  5. Check one of the services.

    Startup servicesSource: Windows Central

  6. Click the Apply button.
  7. Click the OK button.
  8. Restart your computer.

Once you complete the steps, repeat the steps for every item until you can determine the device that's causing the problem.

Re-enabling startup items

If none of the services seem to be the issue, use these steps to re-enable startup items:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Task Manager.
  3. Click the Startup tab.
  4. Select an app and click the Enable button in the bottom-right corner.

    Enable startup servicesSource: Windows Central

  5. Close Task Manager.
  6. Restart your computer.

After completing the steps, repeat the instructions for every item until figuring out the app that's causing the black screen.

If you want to revert the changes, you can use the same instructions outlined above, but on step No. 5, make sure to click the Enable all button, and on step No. 10, click the Enable button for each application that was previously enabled.

Reinstalling or rolling back graphics driver

Usually, a computer may experience a black screen due to a buggy or compatibility issue with a graphics driver, which might you have installed manually or through Windows Update.

Other times, the video driver update may not be the problem, but the one installed on your device may be corrupted, and as a result, you could be seeing a black screen.

Reinstalling graphics driver

To reinstall the graphics driver, while in safe mode, you can remove it and then allow Windows 10 to reinstall it automatically using these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Device Manager and click the top result to open the experience.
  3. Expand the Display Adapters branch.
  4. Right-click the video adapter and select the Uninstall device option.

    Device Manager uninstall video driverSource: Windows Central

    Quick tip: Alternatively, you can also select the Delete the driver software for this device option to remove the driver from your device. Sometimes, this is recommended, but if Windows 10 can't find the driver online, you'll need to download the driver from your manufacturer support website manually.

  5. Click the OK button.
  6. Restart your computer.

Once your device restarts, Windows 10 should automatically reinstall the graphics driver, and hopefully, the black screen will disappear.

If you see a black screen after upgrading to a new version of Windows 10, you may need to download the latest compatible driver from your device or graphics from your manufacturer's support website to resolve the issue.

Rolling back graphics driver

Alternatively, if you recently installed an update, it may be possible to rollback to the previous version of the driver.

To roll back a device driver to an earlier version, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Device Manager and click the top result to open the experience.
  3. Expand the Display Adapters branch.
  4. Right-click the graphics card, and select the Properties option.

    Device Manager driver propertiesSource: Windows Central

  5. Click the Driver tab.
  6. Click the Roll Back Driver button.

    Device Manager rollback driverSource: Windows Central

  7. Select a reason why you're rolling back (select any option).

    Reason to roll back driverSource: Windows Central

  8. Click the Yes button to confirm.
  9. Restart your computer.

After completing the steps, Windows 10 will uninstall the driver, and the previous version will be restored.

If the Roll Back Driver button isn't available, then Windows 10 doesn't have any previous driver to roll back. If you know that an earlier driver was working without splashing a black screen, you may be able to find and download an older version of the driver from your manufacturer's support website, and use their instructions to install the controller.

Disabling Fast Startup

Sometimes a black screen will appear because the fast startup feature is enabled on your computer.

Fast startup is just a feature that allows Windows 10 to boot faster, but if it's causing problems, you can disable it with these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Control Panel and click the top result to open the experience.
  3. Click on System and Security.
  4. Click on Power options.
  5. Select the Choose what the power button does link on the left pane.

    Power options

  6. Click the Change settings that are currently unavailable link.

    Change power settingsSource: Windows Central

  7. Clear the Turn on fast startup (recommended) option.

    Enable Fast startupSource: Windows Central

    Quick note: This feature isn't available on every installation, because it'll depend on your hardware configuration.

  8. Click the Save changes button.
  9. Restart your computer.

If fast startup was the problem, after restarting your device, you should no longer see a black screen.

Disabling high contrast

If you're using the high contrast feature, there's a chance that it may be the reason why you're getting a black screen.

To disable high contrast, while in safe mode, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Ease of Access.
  3. Click on High contrast.
  4. Turn off the high contrast toggle switch.

    Disable high contrast in Safe ModeSource: Windows Central

Once you complete the steps, restart your device to see if disabling the features addresses the black screen problem.

Stopping RunOnce process

RunOnce allows you to specify commands that Windows 10 can run one time and then delete, but it can also cause the screen to go black on your device.

To stop the RunOnce process, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Task Manager and click the top result to open the experience.
  3. Click the Processes tab.
  4. Select the RunOnce process and click the End task button (if applicable)
  5. Click the Services tab (if the process wasn't in the "Processes" tab).
  6. Right-click the RunOnce item, and select the Stop button.
  7. Restart your computer.

If the RunOnce process was causing the problem, you should be able to start using your device normally.

Uninstalling updates

In recent times, there have been many cumulative updates rolling out with bugs and other compatibility issues.

If you've recently updated your device, and you're experiencing a black screen, then removing the update may resolve the issue.

To remove a cumulative update, you won't be able to access the Update & Security settings, but you can still use Control Panel with these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Control Panel and click the top result to open the experience.
  3. Under the "Programs" items, click the Programs and Features option.
  4. Click the View installed updates option from the left pane.

    Control Panel in safe modeSource: Windows Central

  5. Select the most recent update.
  6. Click the Uninstall button.

    Uninstall updates in safe modeSource: Windows Central

  7. Restart your computer.

Once you complete the steps, the update will uninstall, and Windows 10 won't try to install it again until the next update releases.

Removing security software

Although security software is meant to keep your device and data safe, it can also cause problems like a black screen.

If you're using a third-party antivirus or another kind of security software, you can remove it to determine whether the application is causing the problem.

To uninstall an application, while in safe mode, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Apps.
  3. Click on Apps & features.
  4. Under the "Apps & features" section, select the security app.
  5. Click the Uninstall button.

    Uninstall app in Safe ModeSource: Windows Central

  6. Continue with the on-screen directions to remove the app.
  7. Restart your computer.

If you no longer see a black screen on Windows 10, you can reinstall it again, but if the problem re-appears, remove it one more time, and check your software vendor's support website for an updated version or additional support.

Creating new account

A problem with your current account could also be the reason that you're experiencing a black screen.

To determine whether or not your account is causing problems, while in safe mode, you can create a new local account, and if it works, you should consider moving to the new account.

You can quickly create a new account in safe mode using these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator option.
  3. Type the following command to create a new account and press Enter:

    net user tempuser /add

    In the command, make sure to change "tempuser" for the name of the account you want to create.

  4. Type the following command to change the account type to "Administrator" and press Enter:

    net localgroup administrators tempuser /add

    Create new user with Command Prompt in Safe ModeSource: Windows Central

  5. Restart your computer.
  6. Sign in with the new user account.

If your device is no longer experiencing a black screen, then the problem is something related to your old user account. Instead of spending valuable time troubleshooting the old account, you should refer to this guide to move your files, link your user profile with a Microsoft account, and delete the old account.

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How to fix black screen using System Restore on Windows 10

Alternatively, you can also use the System Restore feature to undo system changes using one of the available restore points, which can potentially fix the black screen problem. You won't lose your files, but depending on your current configuration, you may lose some settings, apps, and updates. However, this option will only work if you have previously enabled and configured the feature.

Accessing Advanced startup using three-fail boot method

When you see a black screen, you won't be able to use System Restore normally, as such you'll need to trigger the recovery environment manually using these steps:

  1. Power on your computer.
  2. As soon as the Windows logo appears on your screen, press the power button to interrupt the boot sequence.

    Windows 10 boot logoSource: Windows Central

  3. Repeat steps No. 1 and 2 two more times.

After the third interruption, Windows 10 will open into the Advanced Startup environment, and then you can continue with the steps below to use System Restore.

Accessing Advanced startup using bootable media

Also, you can use a USB installation media to get to the Advanced startup settings environment using these steps:

  1. Start your computer using a USB installation media.
  2. Click the Next button.
  3. Click the Repair your computer link in the bottom-left corner.

    Windows 10 SetupSource: Windows Central

Once you've completed the steps, continue with the System Restore instructions.

Undoing changes using System Restore

To restore your computer to an earlier time to fix the black screen problem, use these steps:

  1. Click the Advanced Startup option.
  2. Click the Troubleshoot option.
  3. Click the Advanced options button.
  4. Click the System Restore option.

    System Restore in Advanced startupSource: Windows Central

  5. Click the Next button.

    System Restore wizardSource: Windows Central

  6. Select the most recent known working restore point that you think will resolve the current problem.
  7. Click the Scan for affected programs button to determine the apps that will be affected after the restore point was created.
  8. Click the Close button.
  9. Click the Next button.
  10. Click the Finish button.

After completing the steps, System Restore will restore your computer to an earlier time removing system changes since the date of the restore point, which hopefully will resolve the black screen issue.

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How to fix black screen rolling back to previous version of Windows 10

As a last resort, in the case that you're dealing with compatibility issues with a new version of Windows 10, you can roll back to an earlier release using these steps:

Accessing Advanced startup using three-fail boot method

If you see a black screen, you won't be able to use the recovery options using the Settings app, nor you'll be able to use safe mode, as such you'll need to trigger the recovery environment manually using these steps:

  1. Power on your computer.
  2. As soon as the Windows logo appears on your screen, press the power button to interrupt the boot sequence.

    Windows 10 boot logoSource: Windows Central

  3. Repeat steps No. 1 and 2 two more times.

After the third interruption, Windows 10 will open into the Advanced Startup environment, and then you can continue with the steps below to rollback.

Accessing Advanced startup using bootable media

Also, you can use a USB installation media to get to the Advanced startup settings environment using these steps:

  1. Start your computer using a USB installation media.
  2. Click the Next button.
  3. Click the Repair your computer link in the bottom-left corner.

    Windows 10 SetupSource: Windows Central

Once you complete these steps, continue with the instructions below to go back to an earlier version of Windows 10.

Uninstall the latest version of Windows 10

While in the Advanced startup settings, use these steps to roll back to a previous version:

  1. Click the Troubleshoot option.
  2. Click the Advanced options button.
  3. Click the Uninstall Update option.

    Advanced startup uninstall feature updateSource: Windows Central

  4. Select the Uninstall latest feature update option.
  5. Sign-in with your credentials.
  6. Click the Uninstall feature update button.

    Uninstall feature update buttonSource: Windows Central

If rolling back to a previous version resolves the problem, you can block the feature update from installing again using these steps.

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How to fix black screen during installation of Windows 10

If the black screen appears during an installation of Windows 10, depending on the hardware and amount of data, it's likely that the setup is still working in the background. Usually, when this happens, it could take several hours, but the process will eventually complete.

In this scenario, the best course of action is to wait around three to six hours to give the process a chance to complete whatever it may be doing.

If, after several hours, the installation continues to be stuck, then you should try to power off your computer. You can force a shutdown by pressing and holding the power button between five to ten seconds or until the device shuts down. Then unplug the power cable.

In the case that you're using a laptop, it's also a good idea to remove the battery (if possible).

After powering off the computer, disconnect non-essential peripherals, including removable storage, printer, game controller, network cable, and secondary monitor. If you can, also turn off your wireless and Bluetooth adapters. Only leave connected the essentials, such as a mouse, keyboard, and display.

Wait an entire minute, reconnect the battery and power cable, but do not reconnect any of the peripherals, and power on the device.

If it was a non-critical error, the installation should resume and complete successfully. Once you're on the Windows 10 desktop, remember to reconnect the peripherals.

In the case that it was a critical error, and the system rolls back to the previous version, then don't reconnect your peripherals, and manually install the Windows 10 update one more time. If you were trying to upgrade to Windows 10, you could try to upgrade one more time, but this time you can try using a bootable USB flash drive to install Windows 10.

Were you able to fix the black screen problem on your computer? Let us know in the comments below.

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources:

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