How to connect a headset to a computer

Updated: 12/30/2021 by Computer Hope

Computer headsets, or earphones, generally feature one of two types of connector: mini plug or USB (universal serial bus). Either connection works well for a headset, but one is analog and one is digital. Bluetooth enables headsets to connect without a cable. These headsets, however, run on a limited battery life.

Below are instructions for connecting each type of headset to your computer for audio output.

Note

If you have speakers connected to your computer, connecting a headset to the line out or headphone jack may result in sound only being output to the headset. To have sound output to headset and speakers, you need to use a USB headset or plug the headphones to a headphone jack on the computer.

USB headset

Usb cable and port

If your headset features a USB connector, find an unused USB port on your computer. 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, try connecting it to a port in a different location. In some situations, it may only work if connected to the back of the computer.

Back of computer sound card

Mini-plug headset

To connect a Mini Plug headset, headphones, or another device, locate the Mini Plug hole(s) on the sound card or front or side of the computer. If you have a laptop computer, the connection is likely a brass-colored 3.5 mm jack found on the side or front.

Note

Some higher quality headphones use a 1/4" (6.3mm) stereo plug. To connect these headphones to the computer, you must purchase a 1/4" (6.3mm) female to 3.5mm male adapter.

Once these hole(s) are located the plug can be inserted into the hole with little effort.

If the computer has multiple Mini Plug holes (as shown in picture), you'll need to determine what hole is for what device. To help with this process, the Mini Plug holes are often color-coded or have a symbol next to them to indicate the device. For example, for headphones, the sound out or line out is a shade of green and has an arrow pointing out of waves.

If you're connecting a headset, because it has a microphone in addition to speakers, it'll have two Mini Plugs. The headphones connect to the sound out port (mentioned above), and the microphone connects to the sound in or line in port. The sound in port is often a shade of blue with an arrow pointing into waves.

Note

If your headset has a Mini Plug connector and a USB connector, both need to be connected.

Can I plug in a Mini Plug while the computer is on?

Yes. All Mini Plug devices can be connected and disconnected while the computer is turned on.

Once connected to the line out and microphone connectors, the headset is ready to use.

Bluetooth headset

  1. Make sure Bluetooth is enabled on your computer.
  1. Open the Start menu by pressing the Windows key.
  2. Click the Settings Gear icon for settings icon.
  3. Click the Devices option.
  4. In Devices, click the Bluetooth & other devices option in the left navigation menu.
  5. Click the Add Bluetooth or other device button.
  6. In the Add a device pop up window, click Bluetooth to scan for Bluetooth devices.

Add Bluetooth device

  1. Make sure your Bluetooth headset is powered on and in pairing mode.
  2. Click your headset in the list of devices to begin connecting.

How to test the headset

If you're unsure the headphones or microphone are working, you can test each part of the headset by following the steps below.

Testing the headset headphones

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 can be 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 often means that additional software is needed for the headset to work properly. If any drivers came with your headset, install them 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.

Another reason for an error to occur is if the sound card in your computer is not currently compatible with the headset. You may resolve this by checking for updated sound card drivers from the manufacturer's website.