Why Is My Computer Not Playing Sound | Checklist

Why is my computer not playing sound

Your computer is not playing sound because it’s on mute. On a Windows computer to unmute, click the speaker icon at the lower right corner of the Windows taskbar. Unmute and adjust your PC’s sound level. Also, check to make sure Windows is using the correct device. Use the “Select playback device” setting to switch between playback devices. If you still hear no sound from your PC, if you have external speakers, make sure they are plugged in and turned on. Make sure the sound device you are using is enabled in the Sound Control Panel. And finally, restart your computer. Sometimes the sound drivers hang-up, and restarting your PC is the fix. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the mentioned solutions work but, if they do not, you could have a more complicated sound driver problem that will require a driver update or re-install.

Quick no sound check list

  1.  Check your speaker output 
  2. Run the audio troubleshooter 
  3. Verify that all Windows Updates are installed 
  4. Check your cables, plugs, jacks, volume, speaker, and headphone connections 
  5. Check sound settings 
  6. Fix your audio drivers 
  7. Set your audio device as the default device 8. Restart to apply installed updates

Unmute a Windows computer

On a Windows computer, there is a small icon located in the lower right corner of the screen. It is to the left of the date and time. It shows a tiny speaker with what looks like sound waves emitting from the speaker. If your has a speaker has an “x” next to it, this means your computer is on mute. To unmute the speaker, click on the speaker icon and then adjust the sound level or click on the speaker on the pop-up. It automatically unmutes the speaker.

But there is no task bar. What now?

In some rare cases, you may not have a taskbar showing at the bottom of your computer. In this case, you will need to make it visible. It means the system tray did not load at Windows startup. To resolve the issue, perform the following actions:

  1.  Click Start, click Run, type MSConfig in the Open box, and then click OK. 
  2. On the Startup tab, click System Tray (SysTray.exe) so that a check mark appears next to this item. 
  3. Click OK, and then click Yes when prompted to restart the computer.

After your computer restarts, you should now see the speaker icon in the lower right on your screen.

If you do not see the speaker icon, then you will need to make sure it’s turned on in the Taskbar settings. To do this, move your cursor to hover over the taskbar located at the bottom of the screen. Right-click and click on the Gear Wheel Taskbar settings option. It opens up a pop-up window called the "Taskbar". Here you have many options on different taskbar settings. So, for example, you can automatically hide the taskbar when in tablet mode or hide the taskbar when in dark mode. Review the settings to ensure the speaker icon is displayed. Next, scroll down toward the bottom of the pop-up and, you will see the “Notification area”. Under that, you will see two settings you can click on. You will need to click on the “Select which icons appear on the taskbar”. Scroll through the list of icons and make sure the “Volume” icon is turned on. Next, click the back arrow at the top left on the screen to go back to the previous page. Now, click on the “Turn system icons on or off” setting and do the same thing. Scroll through the settings and make sure the “Volume” setting is turned on.

No sound? Are external speakers plugged in?

Sounds obvious to make sure everything is plugged in, and the power is on but, you would be surprised how many times this is not the case. Now, that said, there are speaker connections on the backside of your desktop computer for speakers. There are six multi-colored line connections. The jacks are the size of a headphone that is 3.5mm. The color codes are as follows:

  •  Gray or Silver – Rear Channel or Surround Left/Right 
  • Black – Side (Left/Right) Channel 
  • Yellow – Center Channel or Bass Channel 
  • Blue – Line In, Analog 
  • Green -Audio Out or Front Left/Right 
  • Pink – Microphone In

On most speaker configurations, the speakers connected to the Green Audio Line In jack. So check to make sure you are connected.

On laptops, there will be a headphone jack located somewhere along the side of the Laptop or in the back. Usually, the location is on the right side of the Laptop. Make sure your headphones or external speakers are connected.

On a desktop, sometimes the front audio jack is still used. Usually, the audio quality is not as good but, it is very accessible to plug into the front. You can plug in your external speakers and or headphones into this jack to see if you get sound. It’s an expeditious way to test your sound by using a pair of headphones.

No sound due to device not enabled

I must admit this as got me on numerous occasions. Sometimes the device you are using gets disabled. And you have to enable it again. Why I really can not come up with a solid rationale for why this happens but, the fix is simple and straight forward.

Right-click the volume icon again and choose “Open Sound settings.” In the window that pops ups, find “Related Settings” click on it. Next, click on the Sound Control Panel. The “Sound Control Panel” is on the right side of the pop-up. On the “Playback” tab, confirm that your audio device has a green checkmark next to it. Most likely, your device is the one labeled “Speakers.” IF it’s not, next click “Properties” at the bottom right of the pop-up, and make sure that “Use this device” is set to “enable.”

Once you complete the above instructions, you will be able to hear sound from your computer. There is no restart of Windows required.

If you do research, you will find there are Windows troubleshooting menus and options where Windows will try to detect and fix your no sound issue. I have used these in the past, and as a consequence, it never was able to resolve my sound issue. It might work for you. It does not hurt to try it. To run the “Windows Troubleshoot”, go to “Settings” by clicking on the Windows icon at the lower left on your screen. It is called the “Start” menu. Next, click on the Gear icon “Settings.” Next, you will see a Windows pop up. In the top left-hand corner, click on “System.” Next, click on “Sound” on the left-hand side. The “Sound” screen is highlighted in a gray rectangle, and you will see “Troubleshoot.” It will display underneath your output device. You want to click on “Troubleshoot” and follow the instructions.

A restart can fix no sound issue

For some strange reasons and I have yet to figure out why sounds do not come on. Everything else seems to function correctly, but no sound comes from the speakers when playing a YouTube video. Unique "no sound" issues happen once in a while. And the fix is easy. The "no sound" problem resolves by performing a restart. I do not know why, but it works.

Other more complicated sound problems

If all else fails, then you most likely got a complicated sound problem. Most likely, the no sound problem is caused by Windows being outdated, or the audio driver is not up to date. The first and most straightforward next step is to make sure Windows is updated.

Update Windows

To check for Windows updates, click the “Start” button, next, click “Settings” then “Update & Security” on the bottom of the second column. On the Windows Update panel, you will see if you are up to date. If you are, you will see a message that says, “You’re up to date.” If you do not see this message, you should click the “Check for updates” button. Depending on how many updates there are available for you, it may take a few minutes for the updates to download and install. Besides, your computer may need to restart. Once Windows is up to date, try your sound again.

Update Windows audio driver

Did you know hardware problems can be because of outdated or malfunctioning device drivers? Your audio "no sound" complication could be the result of an outdated audio driver. To update your audio driver, you will need to go into the device manager and search for a current audio driver and then install it. Windows will do most of the work automatically for you. To get started, follow the following instructions: On the “Search” bar a the lower left-hand corner of the screen, type “device manager.” The command will bring up a pop up called “Device Manager.” In the pop up select “Sound video and game controllers” and then “Update driver.” Windows will present another pop up asking how you would like to search for drivers. Click the “Search automatically for updated driver software.” By selecting this option, Windows will automatically search your computer and the internet for the latest audio driver for your device.

In some instances, Windows does not find a new driver the next step will be for you to go to the manufacturer's web site and search for the latest audio driver. So, for example, if I had a Dell laptop, I would go to Dell’s web site and look for “Support” and “Drivers and Downloads.” I would then use Dell’s function to detect my PC and list current drivers. At this point, you can download and then install the drivers. All this can get complicated fast, especially if you have never installed drivers before. But luckily, Windows has a good web site with excellent instructions. It is one of the best I have found so far. I listed the site in the references at the bottom of this web page.

Not playing sound conclusion

As you can see, the solution to your computer not playing sound can range from extremely simple to something very complex as installing new drivers. Hopefully, your problem was something simple. There are many problems with many solutions. This article did not cover all the possibilities. I only covered common types of problems. I hope it was of value to you, and if it did not fix your problem, it at least I pointed you in the right direction and got you on the road to resolving your no sound problem.

If you have a sound problem, please comment below. I would like to know more about your problem and how you were able to resolve it.

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