tech tips for writers / writers tips

Tech Tip for Writers #28: 5 Ways to Fix a No-Sound Problem–For Free

tech tipsTech Tips for Writers is an (almost) weekly post on overcoming Tech Dread. I’ll cover issues that friends, both real-time and virtual, have shared. Feel free to post a comment about a question you have. I’ll cover it in a future Tip.

Q: I can’t get any sound out of my computer. Do I need a new sound card?

A: Before you invest that kind of money, try these easy fixes:

  • Are headphones plugged in?
  • Is the volume turned up?
  • Are speakers plugged in? This is my personal favorite. About once a year, this happens to me. The solution is exacerbated because I can’t reach the back of my CPU (the tower) to check the plugs. Can’t being a relative word, because I do finally do so and my problem is fixed!
  • Is the sound muted? Check the icon on the systray, or the collection of icons in the lower right corner of your monitor.
  • Are the speakers broken? Plug in a set of speakers that you know work. Does that fix it?

If the sound still doesn’t work, you can check the sound card by plugging headphones into the port for that function, probably at the front of your CPU tower. If they don’t work, you have isolated the problem to the sound card.

Good job!

Questions you want answered? Leave a comment here and I’ll answer it within the next thirty days.

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a tech columnist for, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.


4 thoughts on “Tech Tip for Writers #28: 5 Ways to Fix a No-Sound Problem–For Free

  1. Certainly true, I come across that one with friends and family at least a few times a year (I build my own PCs and as a consequence have become the go to guy for those around me). They really do want to check all the things on your list first, especially given that most PC users these days use laptops/notebooks, where a new sound card means a new computer (there are some usb sound cards around but they are more trouble than they are worth). Even with most modern desktops, the sound card is integrated into the motherboard so if the sound card is dead, you can either install a PCI sound card (soundblaster or equivalent) which depending on the level of the user can be easy or a nightmare, or they need to get a new motherboard, which essentially means a new PC with a clean install as Windows, generally, won’t happily integrate a new motherboard as it will no longer recognise the system.


    • Most people when faced with a computer malfunction assume the computer is broken and nothing they can do will fix it. So wrong. I spend a lot of time with my K-8th graders disabusing them of that notion. By third grade, they’re trying fixes like this at home. Parents are so happy!


  2. Just had this happen the other day, Jacqui. My computer guy had been here to move files, programs, etc. from my old and dying laptop to my new one. So I was imagining the worst when there wasn’t any volume after he left. About 45 minutes later, after investigating a long list of possibilities, I discovered that the volume had inadvertently been turned down on the speakers. 🙂

    Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


    • Don’t you love it when it’s easy–even if it takes forever to get there? Surprisingly half of these problems are simple solutions. I make my students go through all the steps above BEFORE asking me for help. Usually, they solve their own problem.


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