Headphones Not Working? Fix Them with These Troubleshooting Steps

headphones not working

It can be pretty annoying to find your headphones not working when you just got ready to listen to your favorite playlist or watch a movie. But in most cases, the issue can be as minor as the device’s volume slider being muted.

Of course, that’s not the only issue that can cause your headphones to not work. There are plenty of other reasons that may disrupt your listening sessions. And in this guide, we’re about to explore them all.

Do Some Preliminary Checks

The initial steps in addressing headphone issues involve basic checks. These can often nip the problem in the bud and resolve the issue of your headphones not working.

First, make sure your headphones are securely plugged into the correct audio jack. If it’s in the right jack, verify that no debris is obstructing the connection. It can cause audio disruption and make the headphones not work. 

Headphone jacks

Additionally, try plugging your headphones into different ports if there are others available. This will help to rule out port-specific problems. Disconnecting other peripherals, especially audio output devices, can also eliminate potential conflicts.

Have a pair of wireless headphones that’s not working? In that case, you should disconnect and reconnect it. Restart the device if the headphones still don’t work. It will help to rule out device-specific issues.

See If You Have Muted Your Headphones

A seemingly simple oversight, but a common culprit for silent headphones is a muted volume. If you have the headset connected to your computer, look for the volume icon on the system tray. It should be in the bottom-right corner of your screen for the speaker icon.

Headphones muted check

If it displays a cross, it means you have muted volume. And that’s likely the reason why your headphones are not working. Click on the icon to unmute. For mobile devices, press the volume-up buttons to ensure the headset is not muted.

Check for Hardware Issues When the Headphones Are Not Working

If unmuting doesn’t resolve the issue, it’s time to assess the physical condition of your headphones. If it’s a wired pair, unplug them from your the. Try connecting them to another computer or smartphone.

Hardware issues

If the headphones do not work on different devices, it’s likely a hardware issue. You would want them inspected by a technician. For wireless headphones, connect them with another Bluetooth-enabled device.

Rule Out Bluetooth Interference

Bluetooth headphones might encounter connectivity issues due to interference. This happens when there are too many wireless devices nearby. Common household appliances like Wi-Fi routers, microwaves, and baby monitors emit signals. These can disrupt Bluetooth connections.

Temporarily move these devices away from your laptop, PC, or mobile phone. Then, see if the Bluetooth headphones regain functionality. If they do, consider permanently relocating interfering devices.

Bluetooth headphones

Check for App-Specific Issues

Isolating the issue to a specific application is crucial. Do your headphones work in one app but not in another? In that case, the problem may lie within the application.

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Check the volume settings within the app. Make sure it is not muted. Also, ensure that your headphones are being detected as an audio output by the app. Explore other app-specific settings that might contribute to the problem of your headphones not working.

Wireless headphones

Set Your Headphones as Default

Making your headphones set as the default audio output device can help with the issue of your headphones not working. For Windows devices, go through these steps:

  • Right-click the Start button
  • Open the Settings app
  • Head over to System
  • Press on Sound
  • Click “More Sound Settings.”
  • Under the “Playback” tab, right-click on your headphones.
  • Select “Set as Default Device.”

For Mac devices, you can check out the video embedded below to make your headphones the default sound output. 

Disable Exclusive Mode and Audio Enhancements on Windows

Exclusive mode in Windows allows an application to take complete control of your audio output device. While it’s good for some cases, it can potentially cause conflicts.

So, when your headphones work in one app but not in others, you should turn off exclusive mode. It may resolve the issue of your headphones not working.

Additionally, audio enhancements can sometimes lead to problems. They are basically designed to improve sound quality. But some headphones may not work with them turned on. To disable them:

  • Open Sound settings.
  • Go to the “Playback” tab.
  • Right-click on your headphones.
  • Select “Properties.” 
  • Go to the “Advanced” tab.
  • Uncheck “Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device.”
  • Disable “Enable Audio Enhancements.”

Run the Audio Troubleshooter on Your PC

If your headphones still don’t work, Windows has a built-in audio troubleshooter. It can automatically scan and fix audio problems. You can access it through the following steps:

  • Go to Settings.
  • Head over to System.
  • Press Troubleshoot.
  • Click on the Other troubleshooters option.
  • Select Audio.
  • Click “Run” next to “Audio,” and follow the on-screen instructions.

For Mac users, you can check out the video attached below for troubleshooting audio issues on the system.

Update Your Audio Drivers on Your System

Outdated audio drivers can lead to various audio-related issues. To ensure this isn’t the cause of your headphone problems, you need to update them. Here are the steps:

  • Visit the manufacturer’s website for your headphones or device.
  • Download the latest audio and Bluetooth drivers available.
  • Install them.

If the drivers come in an executable file format, simply run the files to install them. Use Device Manager on Windows for the drivers requiring manual installation.

Disclaimer: We may be compensated by some of the companies whose products we talk about, but our articles and reviews are always our honest opinions. For more details, you can check out our editorial guidelines and learn about how we use affiliate links.

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