Missing or lost sound in Windows

SoundVerify software volume control settings

First, verify you see a small sound icon Windows XP sound icon or Windows Vista sound icon in the Windows notification area, also known as Systray (bottom right-hand corner of the Windows Desktop). If this icon is missing, follow the steps below. If you see this icon, skip to next section.

Windows 8

  1. Open the Control Panel
  2. Click the "Taskbar" icon.
  3. On the "Taskbar" tab, click the "Customize" button next to "Notification area".
  4. Scroll down in the list until you see the "Volume" option and speaker icon. On the right side, in the drop-down list, make sure "Show icon and notifications" is selected. If it is not, select this option.
    If the drop-down list is grayed out, uncheck the box for "Always show all icons and notifications on the taskbar" to allow you to change the drop-down list selection.
  5. If you changed the selection in the drop-down list, click OK in that window and the Taskbar Properties window and close out of the Control Panel.

Windows Vista or 7

  1. Open the Control Panel
  2. Click the "Taskbar and Start Menu" icon.
  3. On the "Taskbar" tab, in the "Notification area" section, click the "Customize" button.
  4. Scroll down in the list until you see the "Volume" option and speaker icon. On the right side, in the drop-down list, make sure "Show icon and notifications" is selected. If it is not, select this option.
    If the drop-down list is grayed out, uncheck the box for "Always show all icons and notifications on the taskbar" to allow you to change the drop-down list selection.
  5. If you changed the selection in the drop-down list, click OK in that window and the "Taskbar and Start Menu Properties" window and close out of the Control Panel.

Windows XP

  1. Open the Control Panel
  2. Open the "Sounds and Audio Devices" icon.
  3. Verify the "Place volume icon in the taskbar" checkbox is checked. If this option is not available or is grayed out, skip to the next section of this document.
  4. If you were able to check this box, click OK and close out of this window and the Control Panel.
  5. Double-click the sound icon in the Systray and verify that all the sound volumes are mid-way or higher.

Windows 2000

  1. Open the Control Panel
  2. Open the "Sounds and Multimedia" icon.
  3. Verify the "Show volume control on the taskbar" checkbox is checked. If this option is not available or is grayed out, skip to the next section of this document.
  4. If you were able to check this box, click OK and close out of this window and the Control Panel.
  5. Double-click the sound icon in the Systray and verify that all the sound volumes are mid-way or higher.

Windows 95, 98, or ME

  1. Open the Control Panel
  2. Open the "Multimedia" icon.
  3. Check the checkbox for "Show volume control on the taskbar." If this section is grayed out, change the Playback "Preferred device" by clicking the down arrow and changing to an alternate selection. If that is also grayed out, skip to the next section of this document.
  4. If you were able to check this box, click OK and close out of this window and the Control Panel.
  5. Double-click the sound icon in the Systray and verify that all the sound volumes are mid-way or higher.

Verify the installed driver settings

  1. Open the Windows Device Manager
  2. Verify there are no conflicts or errors listed anywhere in Device Manager. If conflicts exist, skip down to conflicts section.
  3. Verify no "Other devices" are listed. If other devices are listed, skip down to other devices section.
  4. Verify that your "Sound, video and game controllers" category is listed. If not, skip down to the missing sound card section.
  5. If no conflicts or other devices are listed and your sound card is listed with no conflicts, skip to the next section.

Conflicts section

If conflicts exists with your sound card or other devices installed in your computer, it is likely that either the drivers are not properly installed for that device or the sound card or other devices are conflicting. If you open the properties of the device that is conflicting and view the properties, additional details about the conflict can be found. Additional information about error codes, as well as help with Device Manager, can be found on our Device Manager section.

If you are unable to locate additional information about your issue or are unable to resolve the issue, follow the steps below.

  1. Under "Sound, video and game controllers", highlight each device and press the delete key to remove the device.
  2. Reboot the computer.
  3. As the computer is booting, the system will detect the sound card and any of its devices and re-install those devices. If prompted for a location of drivers, try pointing it to your sound card CD or your Windows CD. If this does not work or is unable to locate the proper files, you need to get the latest sound drivers from your sound card manufacturer.

Other devices section

If Other devices are listed, these could be the sound card or another conflicting device. If any other devices are listed, it is recommended you remove those devices, reboot the computer and let Windows re-detect the devices.

If this does not work, determine what device is not being detected and resolve that issue first.

Missing sound card section.

If you are missing the "Sound, video and game controllers" category in Device Manager, it is likely that the sound card drivers are not installed properly, sound card has been disabled, sound card is bad, or no sound card is available in the computer. First, verify no conflicts or other devices are present in the Device Manager. If these are present, it is likely they are the sound card or devices causing the sound card not to be detected. Second, verify that the computer has a sound card and that the sound card is enabled on the computer.

If this is an on-board sound card, you can verify that it is enabled in the CMOS setup.

If you have no adapters or cannot click the down arrow to select the correct adapter, close out of this window. In the Control Panel, double-click the System icon, click the Device Manager tab within Device Manager, and ensure there are no yellow ! or red X.

If you have either of these on any of your sound devices, remove everything under "Sound, video and game controllers" and reboot the computer. If after rebooting the computer you still have the same conflicts, double-click on the conflicting device and refer to our Device Manager error code section for additional information on the error code you are experiencing.

Verify speaker connections

Verify the speaker settings and speakers are not at fault by running through computer speaker troubleshooting.

Sound card drivers

If you have followed the above recommendations and you are still unable to get the sound card to work, in the Device Manager, remove all sound, video, and game controllers and reboot the computer. This should cause Windows to reinstall all missing drivers and often can correct corrupt drivers. If this does not work after rebooting the computer, download and install the latest sound card drivers from the computer or sound card manufacturer. A listing of manufacturer web pages for sound card drivers can be found on our sound card driver page.

Defective hardware

Finally, if all of the above recommendations do not resolve your issue, it is likely that either the sound card is not working and defective or that the operating system is corrupted. We recommend you contact the manufacturer of the sound card or computer for a replacement or additional recommendations.

Additional information

  • See our sound card definition for further information and related links on this term.