Your laptop is equipped with a built-in microphone that is ready for action at a moment’s notice. Playing a video game? The microphone is ready when you are. Recording some audio for YouTube? It wants to hear your voice. Unfortunately, your laptop microphone isn’t working.

For those of you experiencing a microphone that went on strike, you try these few troubleshooting techniques to get it back in working order.

Is Your Laptop Microphone Enabled?

Sure, that sounds like a silly question but stranger things have happened. First, check that your microphone hasn’t been muted. You can do that from the system tray. However, there’s more to it than that.

You can actually disable your microphone through Windows’ settings. With that in mind, you should check that it hasn’t been disabled by accident.

1. Open the Windows Start menu. See the gear icon in the bottom left corner? That’s Windows Settings. Click on it.

2. In Windows Settings, click Privacy. In the left-hand column, choose Microphone.

3. See the slider at the top, under ‘Let apps use my microphone’? Turn it On.

Is Your Microphone the Default Device?

Your laptop may change what it considers as the default device, in this case your microphone. It’s pretty smart at knowing to disable its internal microphone if another one is plugged in, and then switching back when an external microphone has been removed. Double-check that the internal microphone has been set as the default device.

1. Open your Windows Start menu and search for Control Panel. Use the search bar to find it and select it from the search results.

2. In Control Panel, click Hardware and Sound. On the following page, click Sound.

3. On the following pop-up window, click the Recording tab at the top. Right-click on the Microphone entry and choose Set as Default Device from the drop down menu.

Update the Microphone Driver

Drivers allow for a device, in this case your microphone, to interact with your computer. For example, if you plug in a controller and it works, a driver is communicating successfully with your computer and that connection allows the device to be used. However, drivers need to be kept up-to-date. If they are not, then incompatibility can occur.

1. Open your Windows Start menu and search for Control Panel. Use the search bar to find it and select it from the search results.

2. In Control Panel, click Hardware and Sound, then on the following page click Device Manager. It’s located under ‘Devices and Printers.’

Now, what you’re seeing is a list of different drivers separated into different categories. To reveal all the different components, you click on the small arrow to the left of the category and it will present currently installed drivers. Neat, right?

3. Pick Audio Inputs and Outputs. Right-click on Microphone and choose Update Driver from the drop down menu.

4. In the following pop-up window, choose ‘Search automatically for updated driver software.’ This will require a connection to the Internet.

5. Restart your laptop.

Try Running Windows Troubleshooter

If every solution above fails, then you may need some help from Windows. It has its own troubleshooter that you can run that might just pinpoint the exact problem and fix it at the same time. In fact, if it finds a problem it can’t fix directly, it can at least provide necessary steps to take in order to do so.

1. Open the Windows Start menu. Click Windows Settings, the gear icon in the bottom-left corner.

2. In Windows Settings, choose Update & Security.

3. On the following page, in the left-hand column, click Troubleshoot.

4. Scroll down the Troubleshoot page until you see Recording Audio. Click on it. This will expand and a new option appears. Click Run the troubleshooter.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, a laptop microphone that isn’t working is usually the result of altered settings. However, in the event that nothing worked, you may have to have a professional take a look at it. Or, alternatively, stick to using an external microphone until further notice. Hopefully, neither were necessary and you were able to go about your business with a working microphone.