How To Fix When Windows Doesn’t Recognize Headphones

Many people enjoy listening to music or game audio using headphones, as the sound quality is usually much better than standard speakers. Sadly, there are times when your computer refuses to recognize and support these devices. This leads to confusion and annoyance as you might not be sure what to do.

How To Fix When Windows Doesn’t Recognize Headphones

Don’t fret, there are many solutions available at your fingertips. Read on to learn all about fixing the issue. Note that these fixes work across all versions of Windows.

Windows Doesn’t Recognize Headphones

No matter if you’re using the 3.5mm audio jack, a USB headphone set, or wireless headphones, there are times when Windows refuses to accept them. You want to listen to audio with these devices, but the issue doesn’t always lie with the headphones themselves. Besides faulty audio drivers, it may be a hardware issue.

Most audio devices require no additional setup, especially wired ones. You only have to plug the device into the audio jack or a free USB port for them to start working immediately. When it comes to Bluetooth, things may be more complicated.

Enable Disabled Devices

If a pair of headphones function with other devices but not your computer, then there’s a chance they’ve been disabled. Here’s how to restore them:

  1. Head to the Control Panel.
  2. Look for “Sound.”
  3. Go to the “Playback” tab to see what enabled audio devices are on it.
  4. Right-click in the space and enable “Show Disabled Devices.”
  5. If you see your headphones on it, right-click on them and pick “Enable.”
  6. Apply these settings and select “OK.”
  7. Test your headphones and see if the audio is playing through them.

Some people disable devices by accident, but that shouldn’t be an issue if you perform the steps above.

Run the Audio Troubleshooter

The audio troubleshooter is helpful when you aren’t sure what’s causing the issue. If it doesn’t fix the problem, it tries to point you toward a solution. It can be found on all versions of Windows. Follow these steps to troubleshoot the problem:

  1. Go to the Settings menu on your computer.
  2. Select “Update and Security”.
  3. Click on “Troubleshoot.”
  4. Go to “Additional Troubleshooters” or “Other Troubleshooters” according to the Windows version.
  5. Select the “Playing Audio” troubleshooter.
  6. Choose the device that’s malfunctioning and click on “Next.”
  7. Wait for the troubleshooter to identify any problems. If asked to turn “Sound Effect and Enhancement” off, select the option to do so.
  8. Uncheck “Enable Audio Enhancements.”
  9. Apply the settings.

Because the audio troubleshooter doesn’t always show the same messages, follow the instructions and see if the headphones work after it finishes its scans.

Update Your Audio Drivers

Windows and all other operating systems require up-to-date drivers to function at optimum levels. As old drivers can contain flaws, updating them frequently is recommended. Even so, there are times when rolling back to an older one is the safer move because some new ones may introduce bugs.

Here’s how to update your audio driver:

  1. Press Windows Key + X.
  2. Open the “Device Manager.”
  3. Look for “Audio Inputs And Outputs.”
  4. Right-click the “Headphones” option.
  5. Select “Update Driver.”
  6. Click on “Search Automatically For Drivers.”
  7. Restart your computer.
  8. Test your headphones.

These steps are for rolling back to an older driver:

  1. Press Windows Key + X.
  2. Go to the Device Manager.
  3. Select “Audio Inputs And Outputs.”
  4. Right-click “Headphones.”
  5. Select “Properties.”
  6. Click on “Roll Back Driver.”
  7. Confirm and restart your computer.

Audio drivers should always be up-to-date, as Windows usually updates them on its own. However, errors happen, and it’s now your job to rectify them. It takes less than 10 minutes, though.

Set the Headphones as the Default Device

If your computer is connected to many audio devices, your system may select one of them as the default output device. That will result in all other devices not producing sound. However, this is an easy fix that takes just a few clicks. Here’s what to do:

  1. Open Windows Control Panel.
  2. Go to Sound.
  3. In “Playback,” look for your headphones.
  4. Click on the headphones and then select “Set Default.”
  5. Test and see if the sound is playing through them.

That’s all it takes to swap the default devices. If none of these steps work, it might be a broken audio jack, USB port, or the headphones themselves.

Windows Doesn’t Recognize Headphones Mic

Gaming headphones or headsets tend to have a microphone to help gamers voice chat with each other. That way, they don’t need to buy a USB microphone. Sadly, the settings can malfunction sometimes and refuse to recognize the mic.

Here are some potential reasons for the mic not working.

  • The mic is broken
  • The cables are faulty
  • A malfunctioning audio port
  • You didn’t turn the mic’s switch on

These are hardware issues, but if your headset works on other devices, you can try the solutions below. Test them one by one until something works.

Unmute the Microphone

Occasionally, the microphone’s volume is set to zero, resulting in nothing being registered. Here’s how to fix it:

  1. Open the Control Panel.
  2. Head to the “Sound” section.
  3. Click on “Recording.”
  4. Right-click your headset and go to “Properties.”
  5. Click on “Levels” and slide the volume to 100.
  6. Test and see if the microphone is receiving audio.

Use the Correct Ports

Laptop 3.5mm audio jacks have both input and output functionality. However, a desktop PC usually has two of these ports. One is for input, and the other is for audio output. If you use the wrong jack, then your headset won’t work.

In this case, you can change jacks, and it should register. Even so, some headphones simply don’t work with PCs. You need to make sure you get the correct headset for your device.

Fortunately, adapters and splitters exist. These devices are helpful if the ports aren’t compatible.

Small Malfunctions

It’s not fun to notice your headphones and headset mics not being recognized by the system. While it’s possible there’s a hardware issue, the solutions we covered are proven to help in most cases. There’s no need to worry about these problems as you can fix them very quickly.

Which method was the one that helped you? What other solutions do you know of that aren’t covered here? Let us know in the comments section below.

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