Fix: Headphones Not Working on Windows 10

It is a bit frustrating to plug in your headphones and still have the sound playing through the in-built speakers. Headphones provide privacy and better listening during movies, games or when you are in the library or a place that needs silence. This is an issue a few Windows users have been struggling with. This article attempts to give an explanation and resolution to this problem.

Troubleshooting the issue

Start out by plugging your headphones to another PC. If the issue persists, then the headphones are likely to be the issue; if not, then the PC might be the issue. Also try using another headphone that is known to be functioning. If the problem remains, then your PC might be the issue.

If the headphones are the issue, then you simply need to replace it. However, if the PC is the issue, then there might be different reasons to the problem. It might be caused by an incompatible or wrong driver or even a selection of the wrong playback device. Your speakers might have been set as the default device hence the PC is unable to switch from speakers to headphones. Below are the solutions for the problem.

Method 1: Update your drivers

The best way to get your drivers is to go online to your audio card manufacturer or your PC manufacturer (additional audio features will be supported), download the audio drivers and then install them on your PC. For Dell users, you can go here to download your drivers. HP users can go here. You can also update your drivers over the internet by following the steps below.

  1. Press Windows Key + R to open Run
  2. Type devmgmt.msc and hit enter to open the device manager
  3. Expand the ‘sound, video and game controller’ section
  4. Right click on your audio device, and select ‘update driver software’. An internet connection will give you better results.
  1. On the next window click “Search automatically for updated driver software”
  2. Device manager will search for drivers online and install them.

Method 2: Enable and Make your headphones the default playback device

If your internal speakers and headphones are connected through different sound cards, Windows easily lets you switch from your speakers to your headphones from the system try. However, by making headphones soundcard device the default playback device, the computer will switch to the headphone output whenever it is plugged. If you have more than one soundcard, then windows will be able to detect the different devices otherwise it might not be able to distinguish between the speakers and headphones

  1. Press Windows + R Key to open Run
  2. Type mmsys.cpl and hit enter to open the sound and audio device settings window.
  3. Go to the playback tab. Now plug in your headphones. It should appear on the list. If not, right click anywhere on the list and make sure that the “Show Disabled Devices” and the “Show Disconnected Devices” options are checked.
  4. If there is any headphone/speaker device that is disabled, right click on it and select “Enable”
  5. Now click on your headphone device to select it. At the bottom click “Set as default” to bring it online whenever it is connected. Click OK to exit.

Method 3: Configure the Realtek HD Audio Manager Control Panel

Realtek HD Audio Manager has severally been blamed for this headphone behavior. Not all PC have this software installed so this applies to those who do.

  1. Open Realtek Audio Manager from the start menu or by going to Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Realtek HD Audio Manager
  2. Plug in your headphones. Depending on your soundcard, you might have more than one icon. Click on the speaker icon and make it the default device.
  3. Click OK and check if your issue has been resolved. If not, click on the “advanced device settings” link on the top right corner.
  4. Pick the option that says, “Separate all input jacks as independent input devices” then click OK and the window will close. Click OK again on the Realtek audio manager Window to accept the changes and close the manager.

Also make sure that you have inserted your headphones to the correct port and it is pushed all the way in. If you suspect that your headphone audio port might be damaged, then you will need to replace by removing it a soldering in a new one. If the soundcard is the problem, it will need replacing.

Kevin Arrows


Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

Expert Tip

Fix: Headphones Not Working on Windows 10

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