Whether you’re using a headset microphone to chat in games or recording with a USB mic, we’ll share some tips to fix a lack of input or unreliable mic issues. These will help whether your mic is cutting out or isn’t recognized in the first place.
Check Windows’ Sound Settings
Before you start troubleshooting, restart your computer. You might have a temporary issue that a simple reboot will fix.
After that, your first stop for microphone troubleshooting should be the sound settings in Windows. Access these by navigating to Settings > System > Sound.
Here, under Input, open the dropdown box under Choose your input device. Select the mic you want to use; other available inputs, like your laptop or webcam’s built-in mic, will also show here.
Once you’ve picked the right mic, speak into it and you should see the Test your microphone bar move up and down. If it doesn’t, click the Troubleshoot button below and Windows will attempt to find and fix problems with your mic.
Click the Device properties link to rename the input to make it easier to find in the future. You can also check the Disable box to keep that mic from showing up, or change the Volume to adjust how loud the mic is.
At the bottom of the Sound page, you’ll find the App volume and device preferences menu. This allows you to choose a different output and input device for your open apps. Have a look here and make sure you don’t have the wrong mic selected for the app you’re using.
Troubleshoot Microphone Hardware
Moving on, you should look at your audio hardware setup, especially if you can’t get any input from your microphone at all or didn’t see it listed in the menu above.
If you use a USB mic, try plugging it into another USB port on your PC. Don’t use a USB hub—plug your mic directly into a slot on your PC. If the mic works in another USB port, the first one is likely dead or has an issue. For analog mics, make sure you have the cable plugged into the pink line-in port on your PC.
For all mics, confirm that all cables are fully inserted and that nothing is loose, including the cable for your headset mic if it’s removable, and any extensions. You should also check for fraying cables, as damaged cords can cause problems.
If your microphone has a physical mute toggle, make sure you haven’t enabled it by mistake. Look for a slider or button on your headset, cord, or front of the mic.
Should you still have no mic input after double-checking the above, try plugging your mic into another computer. If it doesn’t work on the other PC, your microphone hardware may be faulty.
Finally, don’t forget to check for updated drivers for your microphone. Most headsets and microphones work out of the box in Windows, but some may require specific drivers for best performance.
Confirm That Apps Can Access Your Microphone
Windows 10 has a Privacy menu where you can block apps from accessing sensitive data like your camera and microphone. It’s possible that you’ve blocked an app from accessing your microphone here.
Head to Settings > Privacy to take a look. On the left sidebar, choose Microphone under App permissions. Make sure the slider under Allow apps to access your microphone is enabled, or no apps can use it. Take a look through the list of apps to confirm the one you want to use has access.
This first slider and list is only for Store apps, however. Scroll down further and you’ll reach a section titled Allow desktop apps to access your microphone. Double-check that the slider under this header is turned on.
While you can’t toggle mic access for individual desktop apps, you can see when they last accessed your mic. This can help you figure out if the app is detecting your mic properly.