How to Enable Your Headphone Jack on the PC
By David Wayne
Your PC's headphone jack is hardwired to your sound card, which is automatically enabled when you start Windows for the first time. When multiple sound cards or playback devices are installed, Windows may adjust your preferences so that sounds no longer play through your headphone jack. If your sound card is disabled in Control Panel, it doesn't appear in the list of installed devices, and you can't enable it until you change your preferences. After enabling your headphone jack, you can set it as default for all audio or only for telecommunication audio, such as phone calls.
Right-click the speaker icon in the system tray and choose “Playback Devices” to open a Sound window displaying a list of installed and enabled devices.
Right-click the blank area in the list of devices and choose “Show Disabled Devices.” All devices are displayed, and each device's status is indicated by a symbol. A blue volume meter indicates an active device; a green check mark indicates the default playback device, and a green telephone icon indicates the default communication device. When sound plays through an active device, the volume meter becomes animated to indicate the volume level.
Right-click your sound card and choose “Enable.” A volume meter appears next to the device, and if sound is playing through the device, the meter becomes animated. If the meter remains flat, your sound card isn't receiving an audio signal. If the meter is animated but no sound is playing through your headphones, click the speaker icon in the system tray to ensure the sound isn't muted. If no sound is playing even though the meter is animated and the volume is unmuted, your headphone jack or headset may be faulty.
Select your sound card from the list and click “Set Default” to set the device as default for all audio on your PC. To set the device as default only for telecommunication audio, click the drop-down arrow and choose “Default Communication Device.” This option is available only if another device is currently set as default. In this case, the default device plays all audio except telephone and video conference calls, which Windows automatically routes to the default communication device.
Click “Apply” or “OK” to save your changes.
- If your default communication device is disconnected when you make or receive a call, the sound plays through your default playback device instead.
- Information in this article applies to Windows 8. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions.
David Wayne has been writing since 2010, with technology columns appearing in several regional newspapers in Texas. Wayne graduated from the University of Houston in 2005, earning a Bachelor of Arts in communications.