How to Get iPhone Earbuds With Microphone to Work on Skype

By Elizabeth Smith

Apple's inline microphone can help reduce background noise during a Skype session.
i George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The sound quality of a Skype session is greatly improved with a headset that includes a microphone and headphones: the headphones eliminate the chance that the person speaking will hear his own words echoing back, and the microphone helps isolate the sound of the user's voice. If you are using an Apple iPhone headset with a built-in microphone, you may experience connection problems due to settings or compatibility, as not all devices can accept the microphone input. By choosing the correct Skype and device settings, you can test compatibility and configure your devices correctly.

Understanding Skype's Default Setting

When you plug your headphones in to your computer or mobile device, Skype automatically recognizes them as headphones. Because the microphone does not require a separate cable, Skype may not immediately register it as the sound input source. If you are unsure whether or not your microphone is working, make a test call in Skype. Launch Skype and look for "Skype test call," "Echo / Sound Test Service," or "Skype Test Call (echo123)" in your contacts. Call the contact, follow the prompts to record a message, and listen to the playback. If you do not hear audio, it is likely that you need to change your Skype or computer sound settings.

Configuring Skype Sound Input

Before Skype can recognize your Apple inline microphone, you must adjust the configuration. On a Windows machine, open Skype and choose "Audio Settings" from the Call menu. In the Microphone drop-down box, choose the Apple headset input. To test the sound input, speak into the microphone and watch the volume indicator. If it does not react to the sound of your voice, your computer may not be compatible with the Apple headset. On a Mac, choose "Preferences" from the Skype menu and click on the "Audio/Video" tab. Ensure that your headset is selected in the Microphone field and speak into the microphone. If the volume indicator reacts with green bars, your headset is fully functional.

Determining Mobile Device Compatibility

If your mobile device is compatible with the Apple headphones, it will automatically recognize the microphone; if it is not, your voice will simply be input through the phone microphone. Although the headphones were designed specifically for Apple devices, they do not work on all generations. The headphones work on all devices, but the earliest generations that support the inline microphone are the fourth generation iPod Nano, the iPod Classic, the second generation iPod Touch, and the iPhone 3GS. All later devices support the microphone, along with all iPad models.

Adjusting Computer Settings

If you are using Skype on a computer, it must be configured to accept your Apple microphone as an input device. On a Windows computer, open the Control Panel and click on "Hardware and Sound." In the Sound tab, click on the "Recording" tab and ensure that your Apple microphone is selected. If it does not appear in the list, your computer may not be compatible with the Apple headset. If you are using a Mac, click on the Apple menu and choose "System Preferences." Plug in your headset and click on the "Sound" icon; if the Input tab has a listing for External microphone, your earbuds are ready for sound.