How to Fix It When Laptop Speakers are Not Working

Laptop sound not working? Try these fixes

While laptop speakers might not offer the best in the ways of fidelity, it's still incredibly frustrating when they stop working. Let's take a look at what the issues might be.

The instructions in this article apply to Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7.

What Causes Laptop Speakers to Stop Working

When laptop speakers are not working, it can be due to a problem with the sound settings or configuration, device drivers, or even physical defects in the speakers or wiring.

To get to the bottom of things and fix your speakers, you'll need to check out each potential issue, perform any available fixes, and then check to see if the speakers work.

Here are the most common issues which may be behind your laptop speakers not working:

  • Sound settings: Simple issues like muted speakers often cause this problem.
  • Speaker configuration: Slightly more complicated configuration issues, like the speakers not being set as the default audio device, can also prevent laptop speakers from working.
  • Bad drivers: If your audio drivers are corrupt or out of date, replacing them with the latest drivers will usually fix the problem.
  • Bad hardware: Your speakers may have gone bad, been damaged, or become disconnected.

How to Fix Laptop Speakers That Don't Work

Some laptop speaker problems can be fixed at home without any special tools or expertise, and others require more in-depth diagnostics and repair work. If you want to try fixing your problem at home, follow these steps in order:

  1. Make sure your sound isn't muted. Laptops often include a mute button or shortcut you may have accidentally pushed, and you can also mute by clicking the speaker icon in the Windows system tray.

    To make sure your laptop isn't accidentally muted, left click the speaker icon in the system tray. If it has an X next to it, click or tap it to unmute. You can also try using the physical mute button if your laptop has one, or the function key shortcut if it has one.

    As screenshot of Windows with the sound muted.
  2. Try a set of headphones. Plug in a set of headphones or earbuds if you have them handy, and try to borrow a set if you don't. Laptops are designed to automatically switch from the speakers to the headphones if headphones are available.

    If you hear sound from your headphones, then there is either a problem with the software or driver responsible for switching outputs, or there is a physical problem with your laptop speakers.

  3. Make sure the audio sensor isn't stuck. Laptops use a sensor to tell whether or not you have plugged headphones into the audio jack. If your computer thinks headphones are plugged in even when they aren't, it won't send sound to the speakers.

    Try plugging and unplugging your headphones and twisting the plug as you insert and remove it. You may also be able to carefully trigger the sensor with a toothpick, but be aware physically breaking anything inside the jack may void your warranty.

    If the problem is your audio input sensor, you will have to take your laptop in for service.

  4. Check your playback device. When you use devices like wireless headphones or an external monitor with your laptop, your laptop remembers those devices for future use. If one of those devices is then set as your playback device, you won't hear any sound from your speakers. You also won't hear any sound at all if the device isn't connected.

    A screenshot of the audio device in Windows 10.

    To set your laptop speakers as the playback device in Windows 10, left click the speaker icon in the system tray and check what is set as the playback device. If it isn't your speakers, click the name of the current device and then click your laptop speakers from the menu.

    In older versions of Windows, you need to set the default audio device instead. Right click the speaker icon in your system tray, then click Sounds. Then select speakers, click Set Default and finally click OK.

  5. Run the sound troubleshooter. The built-in Windows sound troubleshooter checks and fixes a lot of problems automatically. It takes a while to run, so make sure to just let it do its thing and then see if your speakers work.

    A screenshot of the Windows sound troubleshooter.

    To run the sound troubleshooter, right-click the speaker icon in the system tray, click troubleshoot sound problems, then follow the on-screen prompts once the troubleshooter has appeared.

  6. Try disabling audio enhancements. Audio enhancements are less likely to cause this problem, and not all laptops have them, but it's an easy fix to try.

    To turn off audio enhancements, navigate to your control panel > hardware and sound > sound. From the playback tab, right click your speaker device, and select Properties. Then select the enhancements tab, and check the disable all enhancements box.

    A screenshot of audio enhancements in Windows 10.

    If that fixes the problem, then just leave enhancements disabled. Updating your audio driver may fix the problem and allow you to re-enable enhancements, but be prepared to switch this feature off again if your sound stops working in the future.

    If you don't have the enhancements tab, you can skip this step.

  7. Check for audio driver updates. If your driver is out of date, it may prevent your speakers from working properly. The same thing can happen if your driver is corrupted, in which case simply deleting the driver and then running a search for new hardware will fix your problem.

    A screenshot of updating the audio driver in Windows 10.
  8. Try editing your registry. In a few rare cases, issues with your Windows registry can prevent your speakers from working. This is most commonly seen in Asus laptops with Realtek drivers, and it's less likely to apply if this doesn't describe your laptop.

    Don't make any changes to the registry unless you know what you're doing or you're following specific instructions.

    A screenshot of the Windows Registry and where to change permissions.
    1. Open the Registry Editor then navigate to this specific registry key: Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\MMDevices\Audio\Render
    2. Right click Render, then click Permissions.
    3. Click Users.
    4. Click the Allow check boxes for Full Control and Read.
    5. Click OK, and check to see if your speakers work.
  9. Check for physical problems. If your speakers still don't work, there may be a physical problem with your hardware. Depending on the design of your laptop, your level of expertise, and whether or not you're still within the laptop's warranty period, you may want to take it in for service at this point.

    If you prefer to continue working on your laptop yourself, here's what you'll need to do:

    1. Carefully open your laptop case. Some laptops are easy to open, and others are extremely difficult. If you lack the tools to open your laptop case without breaking it, consider consider taking it to a professional.
    2. Examine the speakers. If you notice any physical damage to the speakers, like torn cones, then replacing the speakers may fix your problem. Look closely for any signs of damage, and try to ascertain what may have caused the damage. Are the speaker grills on your laptop broken? Could something have stuck through the grills and physically damaged the speakers?
    3. Examine the speaker wiring. Follow the wires which connect to the speakers all the way to where they connect to the motherboard. If the wires are broken, then fixing them will probably fix your problem. Check to see if the connections on the motherboard are loose or unplugged. Has anyone ever opened up your laptop before to fix or upgrade anything? If you suspect that, the speaker connectors may have been accidentally bumped.

If All Else Fails, Consider Professional Repair

If you still aren't able to see anything wrong with your speakers, even after physically examining them, then you should consider taking your laptop to a professional. The speakers may be bad in a way you can't see easily just by looking at them, or there may be an issue that's too rare and complex to deal with at home.