How to connect a headset to a computer

Updated: 12/31/2020 by Computer Hope

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

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

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

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 or audio (hearing) and a connector with a pink ring indicates the microphone (speaking) cable of the headset.

Once the cables are identified, locate the connections on the back of your computer. If you have a laptop computer, the connection is likely a brass-colored 3.5 mm jack found on the side or front.

The picture shows 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.

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.
  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 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 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.

Additional information