Headphones Not Working When Plugged into Laptop? [Here’re the Fixes]

Windows completely failing to detect the headphones OR headphones not working when plugged into laptop (due to any reason) is the most awful thing this couple of dongles can ever do to us. It’s obviously frustrating especially when you are done with your working hours and now all set to only enjoy with these two.

Yea, I know that. But because I myself am pretty used to this thing, I’ve now learned a lot of ways how to fix this issue. So let me quickly share all that stuff with you as well.

How to Fix Headphones Not Working When Plugged into Laptop Issue?

Including something as nontechnical as a damaged headphone cable, the reasons for your headphone/laptop performance failure can be so many. For example, issues with your laptop’s audio jack, incompatible or outdated audio drivers, audio-video syncing collapse, etc.

Here’s what you ought to do stepwise to catch the exact pain point and do the troubleshooting.

#1. Preliminary Checks – Try These Basic Troubleshoots First

Before I move you down to anything technical or time-consuming, I’d like you to do some of these fundamental checks and reviews first.

  1. Make sure the headphones plug meets the correct jack on your laptop and that it’s rightly sitting therein. Take headphones off the audio jack and plug them back pushing gently all the way in till you feel that pairing click. Check out if it works now.
  2. Check the volume settings on your laptop and make sure the volume slider is neither fully mute nor set to extremely low. See for the volume control bar both on your Windows (device taskbar) as well as on the app/video you’re using/watching and set it to a level you think is generally audible to you and see if it works.

Headphones, most if not all, do feature inline controls that more or less keep the Windows audio controls from patronizing them. If your headset also has an inline audio controller, set it at maximum level as well.

  1. Try checking for dust or lint inside the laptop’s audio jack. The reason for the headphones not working might possibly be the dirt inside the jack that’s impeding the pair-up of the two gizmos. A few heavy blows from your mouth; a compressed air can; or a small cotton swab may be helpful in this regard.

If all this rudimentary stuff doesn’t happen to work for you, proceed down.

#2. Headphones Need to be the Default Output Device

Make sure the exact dongle is selected as the default audio output device on your laptop i.e. the headphones in question here. Here’s how to check out that and fix headphones not working on laptop Windows 10:

  1. Right-click on the speaker icon on your taskbar and select Open Sound settings from the dropdown.
  2. In the next window, verify that the “headphones” are selected as the output device under the Choose your output device box. If not, open the dropdown and make the correct selection.
  3. Or follow this way: Right-click the speaker icon > select “Sounds” > navigate to the “Playback” tab on the top > and finally, be sure “Headphones is checked in that list of devices (and not Speakers).

If the headphones icon appears dark/grayish, you may need to right-click on it to see if it’s disabled. If yes, tap Enable to activate it.

If headphones don’t show up therein, refresh the connection – plug out and put them back in. Once the icon appears, make sure it’s checked or manually choose it, click Apply, and then OK.

#3. Try Tweaking the Headphone’s Audio Format or System’s Advanced Volume Settings

Sometimes the headphones not working issue may be caused by some clash between your laptop’s default audio settings and the audio format you want it to play at that moment. You still won’t hear anything in such a case. So here’s what to do then:

  1. Right-click the speaker icon on the taskbar and select Sounds from the dropdown.
  2. Navigate to Playback in the header.
  3. Right-click the Headphones from the list of available devices down therein and select Properties.
  4. In the Headphones Properties window, move to Advanced.
  5. From the rectangular box right to the Test button, check all the audio formats one by one by selecting each and tapping the Test button, respectively. Click Apply and then OK for the format that’s audible to you.

To adjust the laptop’s advanced sound controls, you may need to go to the Volume Mixer menu. For that, right-click the speaker icon and select Open Volume Mixer from the dropdown. You may then easily set up your headphones from therein by tweaking the appropriate sound slider.

#4. Try Running Windows Audio Troubleshooter

Windows automatic troubleshoot may also be one credible cure for such minor unusual glitches. Here’s how to access and try it:

  1. Press the Windows logo + I both keys at once to open system Settings.
  2. Select Update & Security and then Troubleshoot from the panel on the left side.
  3. Tap Additional troubleshooters, navigate to (and tap) Playing Audio and click Run the troubleshooter.

Follow the on-screen instructions to start and let the process successfully conclude, and reboot your laptop to put the changes into effect. Your headphones will hopefully start working now.

#5. Update Your Laptop’s Audio/Sound Drivers

The answer to your question “why are my headphones not working when I plug them in” might very well be lying in your device’s sound drivers. Driver software is essentially the bedrock for all the hardware/systems on your computer to work well or not work at all. An outdated driver can simply ruin things for you.

To update the sound drivers:

  1. Press the Windows logo + X both keys at once and select Device Manager from the list that appears.
  2. Navigate down to Sound, video and game controllers in the “Device Manager” menu and tap twice to expand it.
  3. Right-click on your sound card driver and select Update driver from the list.

I’d suggest you go with Search automatically for drivers option. But if there’s no update, you can visit your laptop/sound card manufacturer’s official website, download the latest sound driver from there, and then manually install it utilizing the second option i.e. Browse my computer for drivers.

Note: If you’ve got even more issues after the update, you can easily roll back to the previous driver version. For that, instead of Update driver, select Properties this time. Then, navigate to the Driver tab above and hit Roll Back Driver given down there.

Final Verdict – Does the Issue Still Persist?

If none of the above troubleshoots work for you and if the distress i.e. headphones not working when plugged into laptop, still holds up, consider the following bonus tips:

  1. Take another/stand-in headphones and plug them into your laptop. If they start working well like a breeze, the problem actually was with the headphones in question. They might have been broken or so; ditch them and get new.
  2. If the stand-in headphones (functional otherwise) also fail to work here, try a cumulative Windows update, if available. It may also successfully solve a lot of such system glitches.
  3. But if everything works well on some other device (i.e. another laptop or smartphone, etc.), then you’ve highly likely got a faulty audio board on your laptop. Reach out to a technician to get professional assistance in this regard.


Q1. Why are my earphones not working when I plug them in?

Ans. The biggest and most common reasons why your earphones cease to work is not properly plugging them into the laptop’s audio jack or not selecting them as the audio output device on your laptop in the recommended way.

If you think you have done both these things right, you may need to watch out for other possible causes for the issue. Scroll up to learn what else causes this trouble and what are the different methods you can deal with it.

Q2. Why won’t my headphones work on my laptop Windows 10?

Ans. Apart from the two major reasons highlighted in the previous question, on Windows 10 there are so many other things that inadvertently create this distress. For example, a lot of preloaded audio formats, tons of intuitive blips and minor OS bugs, and most importantly the ever update-hungry drivers.

However, headphones not working on laptop with Windows 10 is still never that annoying due to the ease of use of Windows 10. You can easily sync the audio format between all your gadgets, quickly update the drivers, and get all such issues resolved in seconds with the Windows inbuilt troubleshooter. See all this in detail above.