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Issue #835: July 23-29, 2023

Q: About every 3 weeks my audio does not work. I have Windows 11 after Microsoft upgraded me to 11. Now audio seems to not want to work at all. Any idea what I need to do to fix this? Thanks for any help you can give me.

 – Joe B.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

A: Wow, Joe, there are so many things involved in the seemingly simple act of causing your computer to emit audio that it’s about impossible to come up with a definitive answer.  There’s not even much to go on in your question other than your audio used to stop working.  When that happened, you either did something to fix it – or not.  Apparently, the audio came back by itself (after some unspecified period of time).  Now it “seems” like it’s not working at all.

Now, I don’t want to insult your intelligence, but since I don’t know what your level of computer smarts is, I need to start at the most basic level and work our way up.  Please excuse me if I make you feel like a neophyte.

I noticed in the information you supplied that you’re using a laptop.  Almost all modern laptops have built-in speakers, but I’m not going to assume that you’re using them, since laptops also support external speakers that provide much better audio.  So, if you’re using such external speakers, ensure they have the necessary power, and carefully inspect the wires, from the plug all the way to the speaker, looking for any fraying or breaks.  If you find any, that’s the likely source of your problem.  If you’re not using external speakers, or you don’t find any problems with the power or wires, read on.

Is it possible that your audio is muted, or simply turned down?  There are many ways to adjust or mute volume, from icons on the screen, to key combinations, to settings within certain software.  I’ve even heard instances of people’s cat walking around at night, or sleeping on the nice warm laptop that have caused odd problems.  Look in the notification area (the lower-right corner of your screen, near the clock) for the sound icon.  It looks like a little speaker, with waves of sound emanating from it.  If it has a little X instead of sound waves, it’s muted.  You can unmute it and set the volume by left-clicking on the icon, and adjusting the slider next to the sound icon.

While you’re here, check to see that the selected sound device exists, and is enabled.  On the right side of the volume slider is a rectangular shape that I imagine is supposed to look like an old cabinet speaker.  Left-click it, and select make sure your speakers are shown, and selected.

Beyond these simple tests, Windows has a built-in troubleshooter that you can use to help find and repair audio problems. One way to launch it is to hit the key combination [WinKey]+I to open the Settings app.  In the left-hand navigation bar, click “System”, then find and click “Sound” on the right side.  Scroll down until you find the group named “Advanced”.  In there, you’ll find a line labeled “Troubleshoot common sound problems”.  On the right side are options for both input and output devices.  Click “Output devices” to launch the troubleshooter.  From here you have a couple of options.   You can either grant permission to Windows to run an automated series of tests, or you can do things manually.  Either path runs the same set of tests, so the choice is yours.  I recommend starting with the automated series for the fastest results.

If none of the steps offered here helps, there’s a real possibility that your audio hardware may be defective (it happens).  If that’s the case, you should contact your computer’s manufacturer to find out what your options are.  Good luck!  

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