What to do when Windows doesn’t recognize your Android device

Usually, it’s just a matter of connecting your Android device to an available USB port in Windows and you’re signed in. Windows automatically recognizes the device. However, there are times when Windows does not recognize Android devices due to various reasons. Typically, this is an easy problem to resolve, although it may take a few troubleshooting steps.

Note: This issue should not prevent you from receiving Android notifications on your Windows desktop.

Check the type of USB connection

The first step is to always check the type of USB connection on your Android device. While some Android systems use file transfer or something similar by default, many by default only load. To change the connection type, connect your Android device directly to Windows using a compatible USB cable.

Once connected, look for the USB symbol in your phone’s notification bar. By default mine says “USB Charging”.

What to do when Windows doesn't recognize your Android device's connection type

Tap on it and select “File transfer”. Otherwise, Windows will not recognize Android files and folders if you try to access them. If this is a one-time thing, press “Once” or “Always” to make it your default option.

What to do when Windows does not recognize your Android device's file transferWhat to do when Windows doesn't recognize your Android device's file transfer

Try another cable

If you are not using the cable that came with your Android device, the problem may be the cable. This is especially true if you’ve never used it before. It is also possible that the cable itself is damaged.

If you have another USB cable on hand, try it. It’s usually best to use the cable that came with your device, as it’s the most likely to work properly. Additionally, transfer speeds can be faster.

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Use the Windows Hardware and Device Troubleshooter

The Windows Hardware and Device Troubleshooter works well to diagnose issues when Windows does not recognize Android devices. There are two ways to access this tool.

First, go to “Settings -> Update & Security -> Troubleshooting”. Scroll down the right pane until you find “Hardware and Peripherals.”

What to do when Windows does not recognize your Android device Troubleshooting 1What to do when Windows does not recognize your Android device Troubleshooting 1

For newer versions of Windows 10, this option may not be listed. If not, do the following:

1. Open the Start menu and type cmd. Select “Command Prompt”. If you are having trouble, click the “Run as administrator” link under the command prompt.

2. Type msdt.exe -id DeviceDiagnostic and press Enter. This brings up the Hardware and Peripherals Troubleshooter. Tap Next to go through the prompts to find any issues.

What to do when Windows does not recognize your Android device's troubleshooterWhat to do when Windows does not recognize your Android device's troubleshooter

Connect another device

It might sound silly, but connecting a different device eliminates any issues with your computer’s USB ports. If another device is working fine, you know the port itself is working. If the port does not work, try another USB port, if you have one.

Also, if you have another computer to try, connect your Android device to it. This step is only intended to rule out a possible software or port issue with your Android device.

Uninstall any Android connection software or tool

Some Android devices prefer you to use their specific connection software or tools. This is especially true if you are transferring data from an old device to a new one. However, if you no longer use that device or brand, it may prevent Windows from recognizing the new Android device.

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Uninstall any Android connection tools that you no longer use. If the tool is still relevant to your device, visit the manufacturer’s website to check for updates.

Go to “Settings -> Apps -> Apps & Features”. Select the connection software and press Uninstall.

What to do when Windows does not recognize uninstalling your Android deviceWhat to do when Windows does not recognize uninstalling your Android device

Update drivers

If Windows doesn’t recognize Android devices, check if it’s just a driver issue. Windows usually tries to install the drivers automatically. However, if the driver is not correct or up to date, it may appear that Windows is not recognizing your device.

Right click on the Start menu and select “Device Manager”.

What to do when Windows doesn't recognize your Android device managerWhat to do when Windows doesn't recognize your Android device manager

Expand “Portable devices” and right click on your Android device (if it appears). Click “Update Driver” and follow the instructions to update the driver. You may need to disconnect and reconnect your device to see if this method worked.

What to do when Windows doesn't recognize your portable Android deviceWhat to do when Windows doesn't recognize your portable Android device

Reset your Android device

As a final troubleshooting tip, you might need to reset your Android device to factory settings. A problem with an app, a system update gone wrong, or even a conflicting settings can be the cause of the connection issue. If you recently installed a new app before the problem started, try uninstalling it first.

Try to check your device on another Windows computer to avoid resetting your device unnecessarily. If there is still a problem, a reset may be the only option.

Back up your files and data, then go to “Settings -> System”.

What to do when Windows does not recognize your Android device's systemWhat to do when Windows does not recognize your Android device's system

Tap “Restart and reset”. These steps are performed on an LG device. Your manufacturer and carrier may have slightly different steps. Please check your manufacturer’s website if you do not see any reset options.

What to do when Windows doesn't recognize resetting your Android deviceWhat to do when Windows doesn't recognize resetting your Android device

Tap “Factory data reset”.

What to do when Windows does not recognize factory reset your Android deviceWhat to do when Windows does not recognize factory reset your Android device

Follow the prompts to reset your device.

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Before putting anything back on your device, check if Windows recognizes your Android device.

Meanwhile, if you need to transfer files between Android and Windows, you can do it over the network, as it doesn’t require a cable.

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Crowder crystal
Crowder crystal

Crystal Crowder has spent over 15 years working in the tech industry, first as a computer technician and then as a writer. She works to help teach others how to get the most out of their devices, systems and applications. She stays abreast of the latest trends and always finds solutions to common technological problems.

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