What to do when the Windows 10 PC screen goes black. When Windows 10 displays a black screen, the computer may still be on and working, but still locked up and unable to accept input, or it may simply be turned off.
A black screen in Windows 10 can appear at any time during use, right after boot, after or during an update due to a Windows update error, and pretty much any other time.
Unlike Windows errors that provide an error message, such as blue screen errors, black screen errors give us no information to start with. This situation can be caused by a wide variety of software and hardware problems, including:
- The display is off: some displays turn off automatically when no signal is received, which is why you will see a black screen if the computer stops sending a signal for a period of time.
- Windows update not working: if you were trying to update windows or it was updating in the background, something may have gone wrong.
- Updating the video card driver: rather than a general update problem, this error occurs when you specifically try to update the video card driver.
- Connection problems: if there is a problem with the HDMI cable or the internal cables of the laptop, the screen will be black.
- Program crashing at startup: If the black screen occurs when the computer starts, an application set to start at startup may be incompatible with the video card.
- Malfunctioning hardware: the video card, cables, monitor, display panel, or other components may be damaged.
To fix the black screen problem in Windows 10, we need to understand what the cause is. Many of these problems are easy enough to fix without tools or technical knowledge, but some solutions are a little more complicated.
The following Windows 10 black screen troubleshooting steps go from simplest to hardest, so you can start from the top and go through each step until you fix your black screen problem.
If you are using an external monitor, turn it off and on again. If the monitor does not turn on or appears to be turned off, the monitor itself may be at fault. If it has an LED indicating that the display is on, check if that LED is on and the color is the right one. If the display does not turn on, check the power cord. You can also test the outlet where the monitor is plugged in by plugging another device into it or try a different power outlet.
Try restarting your computer. If your Windows 10 computer boots directly to a black screen, especially after installing an update, you may be able to fix it with a simple restart. To restart:
- Press CTRL + ALT + DEL on your keyboard.
- Click or tap the power icon in the lower right corner of the screen.
- Click Restart.
Your computer may appear to be on when it is actually stuck trying to resume from hibernation or standby. Press and hold the power button for at least five seconds, look for signs that the computer has shut down as the lights and fan go out, then unplug it. Wait a few minutes, plug it back in, turn it back on and see if the display works.
If you're using an external monitor, check the brightness settings using the built-in controls. If you are using a laptop, use the brightness function keys. The brightness may be too low to see anything on the screen.
If your computer has multiple HDMI outputs, try a different one. If it has USB-C, you can also try using a USB-C to HDMI adapter.
Whether you're using a desktop or laptop, try connecting a different display. If you don't have one, you can connect to any TV with an HDMI input. If this resolves the black screen problem, the monitor or laptop display is defective.
If you're using an external monitor, switch to another HDMI cable. Use one that you know works, if possible, such as an HDMI cable that you use with a video game system or Blu-ray player.
Press the Windows key + CTRL + SHIFT + B on your keyboard. This link causes Windows 10 to restart the video driver.
If you're using a tablet, like the Surface Pro, press the volume up and volume down keys at the same time three times in a row. If you do this fast enough, you'll hear a beep and the display will wake up if that was the problem.
If your computer is on and Windows 10 is responsive and the display is not working, you can press Windows Key + P to access the Project menu. You won't see it because the screen is black, but pressing Enter will switch to a different mode. Repeating this step four times will cycle through all the options. If your display starts working, stop at that point.
Try disconnecting all peripheral devices connected to your computer, including removable drives, SD cards, cameras, printers, hubs, and everything in between. Then restart your computer and check if the display works. If so, plug the devices back in one at a time until you find the one that's causing problems. That device may require a driver update or may need to be replaced.
If the screen is black, but you have a working mouse cursor and you can access the Task Manager, the Windows Explorer process may be blocked. Opening the Task Manager and restarting Windows Explorer may fix this problem.
Restart the computer in safe mode by shutting down the computer and restarting it three times. When Windows Recovery Environment is shown, select Troubleshoot> Advanced Options> Startup Settings> Restart. Then wait for your computer to restart and select option 5 for Safe Mode with Networking.
If the screen works in Recovery Environment and Safe Mode, use Safe Mode to disable startup items and services until you determine what the error is.
If your display works in safe mode, boot into safe mode and reset the graphics driver. After restoring a previous version, try restarting and see if the monitor is now working.
Windows 10 has a quick start feature designed to do exactly what the name suggests, but it can also cause a black screen to fail on Windows 10. If you have upgraded hardware such as RAM before encountering a Windows black screen error 10, this is probably the cause. To disable fast startup:
- Start Windows in Safe Mode.
- Go to the Control Panel.
- System and security.
- Click Power Options.
- Select Choose what the power button does from the left pane.
- Click Change Settings Currently Unavailable.
- Remove the check mark from the Enable Quick Start box.
- Click Save Changes.
- Restart your computer.
Access System Restore the same way you entered Safe Mode, but click System Restore instead of Startup Settings. Using System Restore, restore the most recent working restore point. You can also search for affected programs at the same time.
Log back into the Recovery Environment, but select Uninstall updates. From there, select uninstall latest feature update, log in if prompted, and click the uninstall feature update button.
If Windows 10 still shows you the black screen after following all these steps, you may have hardware problems. Contact your hardware manufacturer or Microsoft customer support for more information.
During the Windows 10 installation process, it is normal for the screen to go black from time to time. In fact, it may go black for a significant period of time even though the installation process is still running in the background. Under normal circumstances, with modern hardware, this shouldn't take more than a couple of hours.
If you still see a black screen when installing Windows after about six hours of inactivity, there may be a problem. At this point, you can try to shut down the computer by holding down the power button. Once it's off, unplug the power cord or remove the battery if you're using a laptop.
With your computer completely shut down and unplugged, try removing all peripherals. If possible, remove everything except the monitor, mouse and keyboard, as you will need these items to complete the installation. Then, with everything unplugged, plug your computer back in and turn it on.
Windows 10 should either resume the installation process or roll back to the previous version of Windows. In both cases, try to complete the installation with all peripherals disconnected and reconnect them only after the installation is complete.