tech tips for writers

Tech Tips for Writers #110: Sound Doesn’t Work?

Tech 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: Headphones are so difficult. They work unless it’s really important, and then nothing I try ends up in sound. I know the sound works. What else can I do?

A: First, troubleshoot: Do your headphones work? If so, the problem is external–probably the speakers–not with the computer. It’s possible your speakers aren’t set as the default device. Go into your computer settings and check that.

If that didn’t work, try these solutions:

  • check sound on systray (lower right corner)–make sure it isn’t muted
  • make sure sound isn’t pushed way down–so low you can’t hear it
  • if you’re using speakers, check the sound on those–make sure it’s loud enough to hear–and that they’re plugged in either physically or virtually
  • if headphones are plugged in, remove them

Another solution to the no-sound problem is to switch where headphones are plugged in. Sometimes, the front port on a CPU degrades and doesn’t work well anymore. Pick your reason–children jiggling jacks, overuse, leprechauns. The reason doesn’t matter. What matters is you can’t hear what’s going on. Switch headphones to a different jack. In my case, since I always use the front jack, I switch to the rear jack. Problem’s over.

If none of these work, it gets more geeky, like installing updated drivers. I won’t get into that here, but here’s a pretty thorough answer.


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

25 thoughts on “Tech Tips for Writers #110: Sound Doesn’t Work?

    • Yep, these are the sorts of tips you hope you never need. With Chromebooks, you just throw the thing out and buy a new one (for a low $150ish) because everything is in the cloud. My desktop–now that’s a different animal.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Many people I know use the smaller and more portable lap tops but I love my desktop. I like my separate ergonomically-correct keyboard and the big screen.
        What do you use the headphones for? I may be missing opportunities.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Skype or other virtual meetings. Sometimes, there’s a lot of feedback if you don’t plug them in. Or, for privacy, or so you don’t bother those around you. Think of a class filled with students on iPads (or laptops) blaring out the audio. Definitely need headphones.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Sound on my laptop is the bane of my existence, Jackie. I updated and downloaded and yelled and nothing seemed to work. Just when I got it working my port gave up the ghost (I only have one) so now I blue tooth sound into my headphones😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t encountered a problem with writing or embedding – yet. Over the weekend I discovered I could not keep sound on Skype and Google Hangouts. After trouble shooting (doing all the above mentioned checks) I feel little more savvy, and then we downloaded Tango on our phones😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A few years ago I switched to using a USB headset w/mic as I needed to have long meetings over Skype (and other teleconferencing methods) for my work. Their a little more expensive, but in general I’ve found them more reliable and better quality sound.

    and with the mic down in front of my face I feel like a space mission controller at NASA.

    “We are GO for launch…”

    Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve been using a Logitech H390. The one I have a work has been going about 2 years with no problem. I had one at home that died after four years, but it’s replacement has been working fine for 2 years. It’s about $25 from Amazon.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. A great array of solutions for this problem, Jacqui, some of which I’ve had to try over the years. I spent weeks trying to sort the lack of sound once only to realise it was in the computer settings. Grrr…Thanks for the tips!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, I remember once at work struggling for ages to get the computer going with no luck. At last I called the helpline and they said to check it was plugged in. I laughed! How silly did they think I was! They insisted. Yep, you guessed it – crawling under my desk I noticed the plug lying on the ground. First rule for me too since!

        Liked by 1 person

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