How to connect a headset to a computer

Updated: 05/21/2018 by Computer Hope

Computer headsets typically feature one of two types of connectors for connecting to a computer: mini plug or USB. Either connection will work well for just about any kind of needs you may have for a headset.

Note: If you have speakers connected to your computer, connecting a headset to the line out or headphones connection will result in sound only being output to the headset. To have sound output to headset and speakers, you will need to use a USB headset.

USB headset

Usb cable and portIf your headset features a USB connector, find an unused USB port on your computer (on the front or back for desktop computers and the side or back for laptop computers). Plug the headset USB connector into the USB port. Your computer should recognize and configure the headset for use and may display a notification message in the lower right corner when ready.

Tip: If the USB headset is not working properly and you are plugging a USB microphone into the top or front of the computer, try connecting it to the back of the computer. In some situations, it may only work if connected to the back of the computer.

Back of computer sound card

Mini plug headset

First, identify each headset cable. In some cases, the mini plug connection may be color-coded. A green connector indicates the cable for the headset (hearing) and the pink connector or a connector with a pink ring indicates the microphone (speaking) cable of the headset.

Once the cables have been identified, find the connections on the back of your computer. If you have a laptop computer, the connection may be found on the side or front of the laptop, instead of the back. It may also display an image of a headset above or next to it, to indicate the type of device. Plug your headset mini plug into the headset/speaker connection and the microphone mini plug into the microphone connection.

The picture to the right is an example of the back of a computer sound card. In this example, the headphone cable plugs into the line out (light green) connection and the microphone cable plugs into the microphone (pink) connection.

If properly connected, a notification message may pop up in the lower-right corner of the computer screen indicating the computer has recognized the headset was plugged into the computer. At this point, your headset should be ready to use.

How to test the headset

If you are not sure the headphones or microphone are working, you can test each part of the headset by following the steps below.

Testing the headset headphones

The headset or hearing portion of the headphones can be tested by opening anything that plays sound. For example, you could open a YouTube video and make sure the sound in the video is being heard.

Testing the headset microphone

The microphone portion of the headset can be tested by opening any sound recorder and recording your voice.

What if the headset is not working?

If you get an error message when connecting a headset to your computer, this can often mean that additional software is needed to allow the headset to work properly. If any software came with your headset, install that software, and then try connecting the headset to the computer again.

Some headsets do not come with software when purchased. However, the manufacturer may have updated driver software available on their website. Check the manufacturer's website to see if they have updated drivers available for download. If drivers are available to download the drivers, install them, and restart your computer.

Another reason for an error to occur is if the sound card in your computer is not currently compatible with the headset. You may be able to resolve this by checking for updated sound card drivers from the manufacturer's website for that sound card. Download and install the latest drivers for your sound card, and then test the headset again.

Additional information