Whether you use your PC for entertainment, education, gaming, or work, encountering a situation where you must communicate with others is inevitable.
Remote work and online meetings are becoming the new norm, so using your microphone to partake is often not only desirable but essential.
With that said, when your microphone doesn’t work on Windows, it can be both a concerning and a frustrating issue.
Luckily, the following guide covers all possible problems and solutions related to your computer’s microphone not working.
Let’s get into it.
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Microphone Doesn’t Work On Windows – Possible Causes
Users describe the issue of their microphone not working as the inability for others to hear them while using VOIP software on their PC.
However, this could be due to multiple things, so ruling out the possible causes is crucial to pinpoint the problem more effectively.
Here are the most common causes that could be the culprit of your microphone not working:
The VOIP software you use isn’t configured to work correctly with your microphone
Some of the most popular VOIP programs, such as Discord, Skype, or TeamSpeak, require a bit of setting tweaking and configuration before they work with your currently-installed microphone. You may need to open the input device settings and set the microphone you wish to use as the default device within the software before others can hear you speak.
A lack of drivers for the device you’re trying to use as a microphone
When it comes to audio devices, newer doesn’t always mean better. Many older, well-made microphones work amazingly but require specific, legacy drivers to work as intended. If you are using a separate microphone device, one not built into a headset, you may need to manually download the drivers for that model, as Windows may be unable to find them alone.
Problems with the port in which your microphone is plugged
A loose connection is a known problem in electronics since forever. If the cable, or the ports in which your microphone connects are damaged, it could be why your microphone isn’t working. Most motherboards nowadays have multiple ports for peripherals, so try switching to a different one to eliminate this cause from the list.
Your microphone is muted through a button on the device
Most gaming headsets or standalone microphones have a button or a switch that serves as a physical mute button. That is because it’s sometimes much quicker to press the button on the device itself than to alt-tab to the VOIP software and use the virtual mute button, so it’s convenient for manufacturers to include it. It often happens for someone to buy and install a new headset or a microphone and not notice that the device comes from the factory with the hardware mute button pressed by default.
The device is disabled in Windows due to a recent update that changed some important settings
Windows users have a love-and-hate relationship with updates. That is because updates often bring helpful changes, such as improved security, but can also “mess” with the user’s current settings, causing apps to be unable to access the microphone and more. Numerous Reddit threads cover this specific issue, and thousands of users reported it in the past. So, if you’ve recently installed a Windows update, ensure none of your operating system’s settings changed becase of it.
It’s a microphone that recently stopped working
Last but not least, there’s always the possibility of the microphone being dead. It’s rarely the cause but far from impossible. The best way to know whether this is the truth is by testing the device on a different computer or another microphone on your current computer. If this is the case, there aren’t many options besides acquiring a new device.
These are all frequent issues encountered by users who report their microphone isn’t working on Windows. Luckily, there’s a fix for most of them, and you’ll find the answers in the following sections below.
Fix 1: Allow Windows Applications To Use Your Microphone
As mentioned earlier in this guide, Windows updates can change privacy settings without our permission. Or, if someone else was using your PC and didn’t want apps to be able to access their mic, they could have been the one disabling this setting.
Either way, you should ensure it’s enabled so your microphone can work properly.
Here’s how to allow Windows apps to use the microphone on your PC:
- Press Windows + S simultaneously on your keyboard.
- In the search bar, type in Control Panel and click on the first result on the list.
- Set the View to Category in the upper-right corner, and then click on Hardware and Sound, as shown in the image below.
- Choose Sound from the list of options available.
- Access the Recording tab, right-click your microphone device and choose Properties from the menu.
- Note: You may notice that the microphone you’re trying to use is not the default device. If that’s the case, find it on the list, right-click it, and choose Set as Default Device, then proceed with the steps.
- Access the Advanced tab, then “tick” the box next to the “Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device” option. Confirm the changes by clicking Apply and then OK.
While you’re here, we recommend accessing the microphone levels tab and checking the input level volume’s value. If it’s not on maximum, it could be why others can’t hear you.
Important: Some users may also need to enable this option in a different Windows section. So, to do that, follow the steps below:
- Right-click the Windows logo located in the bottom-left corner of your screen. Choose Settings from the list.
- Click on Privacy.
- Access the Microphone section by clicking on it in the left sidebar menu.
- Enable the setting granting apps access to your microphone by “switching” the button on, as shown in the image below.
Now, apps such as Skype, Discord, TeamSpeak, and others can access your microphone, and the problem should no longer persist.
Fix 2: Update Your Audio Drivers Through Device Manager
If you have outdated drivers or none installed for your audio devices, it could be the reason why your microphone is not working.
Luckily, this is easy to solve, and Windows can automatically find and install drivers for you if you follow these steps:
- Press Windows + S simultaneously on your keyboard to open the Windows Search Box. In it, type in Device Manager, then click on the first result displayed on the list.
- Inside the Device Manager panel, expand the Audio inputs and outputs category. Then, find your microphone on the list of available devices, right-click it, then choose Update driver.
- Choose Search automatically for drivers.
- Wait for the process to complete, and then restart your computer.
Now, you should have the latest available drivers for that device installed on your computer. If an outdated driver was causing the issue, now it should be fixed.
Fix 3: Rule Out A Possible Issue With Your PC’s USB Ports
Your computer’s USB ports may not work properly, and the reasons for that could vary. To ensure this isn’t the case, we recommend trying the following things:
- Unplug the microphone from the current USB port and plug it into a different one. If you’ve already tried all USB ports on the back with no luck, try the ones on the front next.
- Connect your microphone to your computer via Bluetooth (if it’s an option) so that if it ends up working, you know it’s not the microphone itself but the USB ports.
- Acquire a converter that allows you to connect a USB mic to an audio port on your computer instead of a USB port.
Some of these things may help you acknowledge a problem with your computer’s USB port(s).
Fix 4: Ensure It’s Not An App Problem
Last but not least, there may be multiple app-related reasons causing your mic to malfunction.
For example, the push to talk feature could be on by default in the software you’re using. So, no matter how much you speak, others won’t be able to hear you unless you’re using the correct shortcut to keep push-to-talk enabled.
Next, some VOIP programs have overly-aggressive noise-reduction algorithms. That can sometimes cause the human voice to go undetected by the mic, so others won’t be able to hear you. Try fiddling around with the settings and ultimately disabling what may be unnecessary regarding such filters and enhancements.
Lastly, the app itself may be unable to recognize which microphone should be the default input device. You may need to configure this by yourself before being able to speak. Also, apps have settings that control your microphone’s volume. So, even if set to maximum in the Windows settings (as we showed you earlier in this guide), it could still be set to low within the app, and that’s a possible issue.
Windows is a complex operating system, and the world of hardware has even more variable factors that could cause your microphone to not properly work with it.
This guide contains multiple methods, tips, and tricks that could help you overcome the issue with your microphone malfunctioning.