How to Fix It When a Laptop Microphone is Not Working

Nobody can hear you on your laptop? Try these fixes

When a laptop microphone is not working, it can be due to a problem with the microphone settings or configuration, device drivers, or even a broken microphone or faulty internal wiring. Before you pull the trigger on a replacement microphone, check out our troubleshooting tips and proven fixes.

Unless otherwise noted, the instructions in this article apply to Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7.

What Causes a Laptop Microphone to Stop Working?

Laptop microphones can stop working as the result of a variety of software and hardware problems, including issues with settings, configurations, and even driver conflicts. To fix your laptop microphone, you'll have to check the most common issues in each of these categories and fix any problems that you come across.

Here are the most common issues that may be behind your laptop microphone not working:

  • Microphone settings and configuration: Simple issues like a muted microphone or an incorrectly configured microphone often cause this problem.
  • Bad microphone drivers: If your microphone driver is bad or out of date, the microphone will fail to work properly.
  • Bad microphone hardware: Your microphone may have simply gone bad due to a defect or old age, or there may be a problem with the internal wiring.

How to Fix a Laptop Microphone That Doesn't Work

There are a number of laptop microphone problems that you can fix yourself without any special tools or knowledge. Other issues are more complicated and will require the assistance of a professional.

To fix your laptop microphone, follow these steps in order:

  1. Make sure your microphone isn't muted. Your laptop may have a physical microphone mute button that could have been pushed accidentally, in which case pushing that button or flipping that switch will fix the problem.

    A screenshot of a muted microphone in Windows.

    Your microphone may also be muted in your sound settings. To check this:

    1. Open the Control Panel.
    2. Click Hardware and Sound.
    3. Click Sound.
    4. Click Recording.
    5. Right click your microphone, and click Properties.
    6. Click Levels.
    7. If the microphone icon has a crossed out red circle next to it, click it to unmute.

    If the microphone level and boost are set low in this menu, slide them to full and check to see if that helps.

  2. Make sure the correct microphone is set as the default. If you have used other microphones in the past, or had a headset connected, Windows may have the incorrect microphone set as the default.

    A screenshot showing the default microphone in Windows.

    To check and change your default microphone:

    1. Open the Control Panel.
    2. Click Hardware and Sound.
    3. Click Sound.
    4. Click Recording.
    5. Click your microphone.
    6. Click Set Default.
  3. Make sure your app has access to the microphone. For privacy reasons, you can set it so that only certain apps are able to access the microphone. If your chat or conferencing app doesn't have permission, it will seem like the microphone isn't working.

    This setting works similarly in Windows 10 and Windows 8, but there is no corresponding setting in Windows 7. Skip this step if you are using Windows 7.

    To check and fix this issue:

    1. Type microphone into the Windows search bar.
    2. Click Microphone privacy settings.
      1. In Windows 10, make sure Allow apps to access your microphone is set to On.
      2. In Windows 8 and 8.1, make sure Let apps use my microphone is set to On.
    3. Scroll down and make sure your specific app has permission as well.
  4. If you're using an external microphone, unplug it and plug it back in. Laptops are designed to automatically switch between the built-in microphone and external hardware when it's plugged in.

    Try unplugging and plugging your microphone back in if you're trying to use an external microphone, or try plugging an external microphone in and unplugging it if you're trying to use the internal hardware. Doing so may cause the software to finally switch to the correct microphone.

  5. Make sure your microphone device isn't disabled. Using the device manager, you'll want to make sure that your microphone is actually enabled. If it isn't, then you can try enabling it. If it remains disabled, there may be a hardware or driver conflict. In either case, running the troubleshooter or updating the device driver may allow you to enable your microphone.

  6. Run the sound troubleshooter. This automated troubleshooter checks and fixes a lot of issues with both sound playback and recording, so it may be able to fix your microphone problem. Allow it to completely run its course, and then check to see if your microphone works.

    To run this troubleshooter, open the Control Panel > Troubleshooting > Hardware and Sound > Recording, then click Next and follow the on-screen prompts.

  7. Check for audio driver updates. If your microphone driver is bad or out of date, it will prevent your microphone from working correctly. Make sure to restart your computer after installing a new driver or replacing your driver, as it won't take full effect until after a restart.

  8. Check for physical problems. If your microphone still doesn't work, there may be a physical problem with your microphone. Depending on factors like your level of expertise, and the design of your specific laptop, you may want to try and open your laptop to examine the microphone at this point.

Alternatively, you could either take the laptop in for professional repairs or purchase an external microphone or headset to get around the problem.

If you want to physically examine your microphone yourself, here's what you'll have to do:

  1. Carefully open your laptop case. Some laptops are extremely difficult to open, so make sure to remove all the necessary screws and check out a YouTube video if the procedure isn't immediately clear. You may need to take the laptop to a professional if you lack the necessary tools to open it up yourself.
  2. Examine the microphone. If you are able to see any physical damage to the microphone, like it has become dislodged or physically damaged, then replacing it may fix the problem. However, there are a lot of ways for a microphone to fail that aren't revealed by a visual inspection.
  3. Examine the microphone wiring. Follow the wires from the microphone to where they connect to the motherboard, paying special attention to where they pass through the hinge. If the wires are broken, or they have come unplugged from the motherboard, fixing them or plugging them back in will probably allow your microphone to work again.

If All Else Fails, Consider Professional Repair

If your laptop microphone still doesn't work, and you don't see anything wrong with it after physically inspecting it, then you may need to take your laptop to a professional. The microphone might have gone bad in a way that you can't see just by looking at it, or there may be another repair that requires professional expertise or special tools to fix.