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How to find and delete shadow monitors on Windows 10

When you install Windows 10, it automatically finds and installs the correct drivers that you need. This is great except it tends to create problems at times that you might never know. With respect to the graphics drivers, Windows 10 uses default drivers until it can find and download the ones that are best suited to your hardware. In doing so, it sometimes creates shadow monitors.

A shadow monitor is basically a monitor that Windows 10 has detected but that doesn’t actually physically exist. It’s just detected by your system as something that’s in an off or unavailable state. You won’t accidentally ever switch to it or anything but it will cause problems such as your desktop icons jumping around when you connect or disconnect displays, or your desktop icons copying or being added to the wrong monitor. That’s why it’s important to fix this and to do that, you have to find and delete shadow monitors. It’s pretty easy to do.

Delete shadow monitors

Open Device manager. You can search for it from Windows search or you can go to the Control Panel and select Hardware and Sound, and select Device Manager under Devices and Printers.

On Device Manager, go to View>Show hidden devices.

Next, expand the Monitors under Device Manager. You will see all your connected displays and if you see a display with a lighter, washed out monitor icon, then you have a shadow monitor on your system.

Right-click the shadow monitor, and select Uninstall Device from the context menu. Accept the on-screen warning, and it will be removed. For good measure, restart your system.

If you had problems with icons jumping around, windows opening off-screen, or new icons not appearing until you refreshed your desktop, this might help fix all of that.

The shadow monitor should not return once you remove it however, if you ever update your graphics drivers or you decide to reset Windows 10 but not do a fresh install, it might be a good idea to check and make sure a shadow monitor hasn’t been added.

This can happen regardless of the number of displays you have. If you have just the one display that’s connected to your desktop or your laptop, or you have a multi-monitor set up, you can end up with shadow monitors. This isn’t a Windows 10 specific bug. It did happen on older versions of Windows i.e., on Windows 7 and 8/8.1. If your shadow monitor keeps coming back, you might want to refresh or update your graphics drivers.

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