Black Screen at Boot? Here’s How to Fix It

Joe Keeley 11-12-2019

A black screen at boot is bad news. It’s tough to diagnose a problem without helpful information on the screen. After upgrading to Windows 10, many users found themselves looking at a black screen. Let’s look at how to solve it.


Follow our troubleshooting steps in order. Start with the basic checks, like ensuring the cables are connected and the monitor is turned on. Then proceed to more advanced solutions, like booting into Safe Mode to remove the display driver.

Note: Should you see an error like “missing operating system” or “invalid partition table”, you might have to fix your Master Boot Record How to Fix the Master Boot Record in Windows 10 The Master Boot Record can become corrupt, damaged, or simply disappear. Here are the fixes you can attempt to revive your system. Read More (MBR).

1. Perform Basic Checks

If you’re not getting any picture at all, even when the system is first booting, the first thing you need to do is check the display connection. I know, you probably rolled your eyes at the suggestion, but do it anyway. Ensure the cable running from your monitor to your PC hasn’t come loose. Even if it hasn’t, switch the cable to a different video input and see if that solves it. Also, make sure the monitor is actually switched on.

Black Screen at Boot? Here's How to Fix It PoweredOffMonitorShutterStock 670x335

If possible, connect your monitor to a different computer and see if it works there. If not, it can be a sign that the monitor is faulty and you should contact the manufacturer. Alternatively, you can try a different monitor on your computer. If that works, again, the other monitor may have a fault.


2. Unplug Your Devices

With your system on, disconnect all of your external devices. This includes your mouse, keyboard, external hard drive, and so on. Restart your computer and see if you still get the black screen. If you don’t, plug each device in one at a time until you find what’s causing the problem.

Black Screen at Boot? Here's How to Fix It Wired vs wireless mouse keyboard 640x347

With the problematic device identified, try updating its drivers. See our guide on finding and replacing drivers How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers Your drivers might be outdated and need updating, but how are you to know? Here's what you need to know and how to go about it. Read More if you need a hand with that. No luck? Check out the device manufacturer’s support site and contact them for further help if needed.

3. Adjust Projection Settings

It may be that your system’s projection settings are set incorrectly. Press Windows key + P to bring up the Projection menu. From top to bottom the options are: PC screen only, Duplicate, Extend, and Second screen only. While the first is the default, consider that yours might not be set to it.


Black Screen at Boot? Here's How to Fix It project settings

Press P to move the selection down the list and Enter to select. Repeat this four times to get back to the original setting, though hopefully one of the settings along the way will bring your display back.

4. Reinstall Display Drivers

To reinstall display drivers we’ll need to boot into Safe Mode How to Boot in Safe Mode on Windows 10 Facing Windows booting problems? Safe Mode is a built-in Windows 10 troubleshooting feature you should try first. Read More . The method depends on various factors, so follow the appropriate steps below, then continue reading to find out how to reinstall your display drivers.

A. You Can See the Login Screen

Restart your computer. At the login screen, hold Shift, select the Power icon, and click Restart. Once restarted, select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup settings > Restart. Again, your system will restart and present you with different options. Once restarted, press F5 to select Safe Mode with Networking. If that doesn’t work, follow the prior steps but select F3.


B. You Can’t See Anything and Have a Recovery Drive

If you have already created a recovery drive before this problem occurred, good job! Shut down your system and then connect the recovery drive. On the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings > Restart. Once restarted, press F5 to select Safe Mode with Networking. If that doesn’t work, follow the prior steps but select F3.

Black Screen at Boot? Here's How to Fix It boot to safe mode on windows 8

C. You Can’t See Anything and Don’t Have a Recovery Drive

You need access to a working computer so that you can create Windows 10 installation media. Download Windows 10 from Microsoft and then use this to create installation media. If you need help on that, see our guide on making a bootable ISO How to Make a Bootable CD/DVD/USB to Install Windows Need installation media to reinstall Windows? Our tips show you how to create a bootable CD, USB, or DVD with an ISO from scratch. Read More . You then need to set the boot order in the BIOS to read your installation media first. Again, if you need a hand, see our guide on how to change the boot order How to Change the Boot Order on Your PC (So You Can Boot From USB) Learn how to change the boot order of your computer. It's important for troubleshooting issues and tweaking settings, and it's a lot easier than you think. Read More .

On the installation screen, select Repair your computer. Then select TroubleshootAdvanced Options > Startup Settings > Restart. Once restarted, press F5 to select Safe Mode with Networking. If that doesn’t work, follow the prior steps but select F3.


How to Reinstall Your Display Drivers

Now you’re in Safe Mode, do a system search for device manager and select the relevant result. Expand the Display adapters option. Right-click the option within and select Properties. Go to the Driver tab.

Black Screen at Boot? Here's How to Fix It display driver

If available, click Roll Back Driver…, select a reason, and click Yes. This will take you back to the previously installed driver. If this doesn’t work, or isn’t an option, select Uninstall to completely remove the driver Take Back Control Over Driver Updates in Windows 10 A bad Windows driver can ruin your day. In Windows 10, Windows Update automatically updates hardware drivers. If you suffer the consequences, let us show you how to roll back your driver and block future... Read More .

You might experience some weirdness with this, like getting an incorrect resolution, but if it restores the monitor’s image then you’ve determined it’s a driver fault. If so, go to the manufacturer’s website and install an older driver or contact them for support.

Return From the Dark Side

Hopefully, working through these steps has solved your black screen problems, but if not then see our other article on troubleshooting black screen issues How to Fix a Black Screen of Death Error in Windows 10 What can cause the black screen of death on your computer? Troubleshoot the error in Windows 10 with these tips and solutions. Read More for advice on power supplies and overheating.

If you don’t have a black screen, but instead one that’s flashing constantly, it’s time to read our article on how to fix Windows 10’s flashing screen problem How to Fix Screen Flickering and Flashing on Windows 10 Is your Windows 10 screen flashing or flickering? Here's how to troubleshoot your computer and find the cause. Read More .

Have you suffered from a black screen on Windows 10? What did you do to resolve it?

Image Credits: kikovic/Shutterstock

Related topics: Troubleshooting, Windows 10.

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  1. Somer Hamal
    May 22, 2020 at 7:15 am

    Why do black screen even occur?
    In my case,every time an update takes place this happens.

  2. Sue
    February 27, 2019 at 12:12 am

    Why give instructions that involve following steps on the screen when you cant see anything but black..i cant scroll down , press on a certain icon etc when totoal black screen?? I dont get it

  3. Sophie Robinson
    December 13, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    My laptop's black screen usually goes away with a reboot.
    I get the black screen after "sleep mode".

  4. Sjaak Meeuwsen
    November 23, 2017 at 7:31 am

    The solution in my case: unplug the battery.

  5. Deepika
    February 2, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    i saw your blog it is really good and very much interesting too, thus i like your information what you have posted so please update latest information too.