(Last Updated On: February 15, 2021)

A one-stop guide on fixing hardware and software problems behind headphones not showing up on Windows 10.

Picture this–after a long day, you want to unwind and watch your favorite movie on your computer. But as soon as you plug your headphones in, no sound comes out.

They were just working yesterday, so what could have happened? You’ve already looked all over the internet but came up short. All you know is that your headphones aren’t recognized by your PC anymore. Luckily, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll guide you through what to do when your headphones won’t show up in Windows 10.

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Find Out Whether It’s a Hardware or Software Issue

No headphones detected (From: Pexels)
No headphones detected (From: Pexels)

To start, you first need to determine if your headphones aren’t showing up because of a hardware or a software problem.

This is an essential first step, because how you approach the problem depends on its cause.

Nothing will happen if you use software solutions to solve hardware concerns, and vice versa!

But how do you know a hardware issue from a software one? Check out the following methods:

Transferring to another audio port

If your computer has a different audio port, try plugging your headphones to that port. If the headphones start working again, you can assume that your initial port was faulty, and was why the headphones weren’t showing up.

Trying a different audio source

If you don’t have multiple audio ports, fret not! You can also try plugging your headphones to a different device.

If your headphones get recognized, a software issue may be why your headphones aren’t working on your Windows 10 device. Now, if your headphones still fail to work on a different device, perhaps the headphones themselves are faulty.

With these steps, you’ll know why your headphones aren’t working. Then, you can proceed to address the issue appropriately.

How to Fix Headphones Not Showing Up in Windows 10: Hardware Issues

The headphones' jack is bent. (From: Pixabay)
The headphones’ jack is bent. (From: Pixabay)

Hardware issues tend to be simple in nature, and require straightforward solutions as well. Hardware issues for wired earphones usually happen because of problems with the port or plug. If you’re using wireless headphones, a quick reset should be enough.

Try these solutions for different hardware issues:

Loose headphone jack

A loose headphone jack causes your headphones to get disconnected with the slightest movement. This poses a problem because it can interfere with your headphones’ connection to your computer.

For instance, accumulated dust or debris inside the jack can hinder you from plugging the headphones properly. The result? Your headphones won’t get detected by your system.

To know more about this, check out this comprehensive guide on how to fix a loose headphone jack.

Bent headphone plug

Headphone plugs are one of the most fragile parts of headphones.

If they get bent, you may be unable to use your headphones anymore. Moreover, you can’t successfully plug your headphones into the audio jack if the plug is bent. So, that can be another reason why your headphones aren’t showing up.

Not to worry, though! There are quick and easy fixes for a bent headphone plug. Try these out and see if your headphones get detected by your system.

Wireless connection problems

Using wireless or Bluetooth headphones, but can’t get it to work?

Most likely, a quick factory reset is all you need. Resetting your wireless headphones helps remove any saved bugs or oversaturated Bluetooth connection. From issues with pairing to finding a device, a reset can do the trick. For this, see our article on how to reset your Bluetooth headphones on different brands quickly and effectively.

Other headphone problems

Now, if your problems don’t seem to be those outlined above, you might be dealing with other kinds of hardware problems.

Finding your headphones’ specific hardware issue can be a difficult task, but is necessary in fixing them and preventing further damage. If you’re sure that your headphones are suffering from hardware issues (not software), yet don’t know the specific issue, check our ultimate guide on how to fix your broken headphones. This has all the most common issues one might face with handling headphones.

How to Fix Headphones Not Showing Up in Windows 10: Software Issues

Headphones are connected to an open laptop. (From: Unsplash/Jametlene Reskp)
Headphones are connected to an open laptop. (From: Unsplash/Jametlene Reskp)

Think you’re up against a software problem? Here are some things you may want to consider doing:

Manually show and enable headphones in playback devices

Sometimes, Windows 10 automatically disables headphones by default, as they’re considered unnecessary for your computer.

Thankfully, it’s easy to enable your headphones again through these steps:

  1. Right-click the sound icon at the bottom right part of the screen, then select Open sound settings.
    Open Sound settings.
    Open Sound settings.
  2. Go to Manage sound devices.
    Manage sound devices
    Manage sound devices
  3. Check the devices under Disabled.
    Disabled section and devices under it
    “Disabled” section and devices under it
  4. If you see your headphones there, click on your headphones’ name, then click on Enable.
    Click the Enable button
    Click the “Enable” button

Use the troubleshooter

Windows 10 has a built-in troubleshooter designed to assist you with audio problems that your system can detect. This is actually one of Microsoft’s most recommended fixes for audio-related concerns with your system.

Here’s how you can use this feature:

  1. Right-click the sound icon on the bottom right part of the screen, then click on Troubleshoot sound problems.
    Access Troubleshoot sound problems
    Access “Troubleshoot sound problems”
  2. Choose which device to troubleshoot. Click Next.
    Troubleshooting options
    Troubleshooting options
  3. Follow the instructions indicated to resolve your problem.

Update your audio driver

If the previous two options don’t work, you may want to check out your audio driver. Drivers allow hardware devices to be read and recognized by your operating system. Thus, an outdated driver can cause problems in connecting your headphones to the computer.

Windows updates drivers automatically, but sometimes, a manual update is necessary. This is usually the case when Windows 10 can’t recognize a component, rendering the device unusable until an update is done.

Follow these steps:

Using Windows update

Windows Update only shows packages compatible with your system, which saves you from downloading wrong updates. However, a downside to this is that manufacturers usually take time to make their newer drivers available through Windows Update.

Still, due to the security it provides, Windows Update remains the best way to download and install drivers manually. Just do these:

  1. Go to Settings then click on Update & Security.
    Choose Update & Security
    Choose “Update & Security”
  2. Go to Windows Update.
    Go to 'Windows Update'
    Go to ‘Windows Update’
  3. Click Check for updates.
    Check for updates
    Check for updates
  4. Allow outdated drivers to be downloaded, and wait for them to automatically be installed.

Using device manager

You can also manually update your audio driver using Device Manager. Here’s what to do:

  1. Open Start. Type Device Manager and click on the result.
    Look for the Device Manager
    Look for the Device Manager
  2. Double click on Sound, video and game controllers.
    Choose Sound, video and game controllers
    Choose “Sound, video and game controllers”
  3. Right click on your headphones and choose Update driver.
    Right click and select Update Driver
    Right click and select “Update Driver”
  4. Click on Search automatically for updated driver software.
    Search automatically for updated driver software
    Search automatically for updated driver software

Reinstall or replace audio driver

Another method to consider is reinstalling or replacing your audio driver. Sometimes, drivers themselves can have issues, like getting corrupted. In such cases, the only answer is reinstalling the driver successfully.

Remember to only consider this option if updating your audio driver didn’t work.

You can download audio drivers here:

From the PC manufacturer’s website

Your PC manufacturer knows which audio chip your machine requires, so it’s quicker to visit their website and download the driver.

In this tutorial, we used the Lenovo support website.
  1. Visit your PC manufacturer’s website.
    Landing page for Lenovo Support.
    Landing page for Lenovo Support.
  2. Click PC.
    Go to PC.
    Go to PC.
  3. Let the website check your device to automatically download driver updates.
    Download recommended drivers
    Download recommended drivers

From the driver manufacturer’s website

You can also download the driver directly from your manufacturer’s website by doing these:

  1. Identify your audio chip manufacturer via Device Manager.
    The most common audio driver manufacturers are: Realtek, Creative Labs, AMD (High Definition Audio Device), Intel HD Graphics and Audio, or NVIDIA (High Definition Audio Device).
    Identify your audio driver in Sound, video and game controllers
    Identify your audio driver in “Sound, video and game controllers”
  2. Go to the manufacturer’s website.
    Landing page of Realtek's website
    Landing page of Realtek’s website
  3. Look for the audio card for your machine.
    List of audio drivers from the Realtek website
    List of audio drivers from the Realtek website
  4. Download the driver.
    Download recommended driver for your device
    Download recommended driver for your device

Enable stereo mix

Sometimes, enabling stereo mix might be all you need. Stereo Mix is a Windows feature that allows you to record sounds your device is outputting, by routing the audio from output to input.

Enabling this might let you detect audio and, consequently, your headphones. Here’s what to do:

  1. Right-click the sound icon then select Open sound settings.
    A list of options after right-clicking on the sound icon is shown. A red box is around Open Sound settings
    A list of options after right-clicking on the sound icon is shown. A red box is around “Open Sound settings”
  2. Go to Manage sound devices.
    In the sound settings, a red box is around Manage sound devices
    In the sound settings, a red box is around “Manage sound devices”
  3. Check out the devices under the Disabled heading.
    In Manage sound devices, a red box is around Stereo Mix under the Disabled heading
    In “Manage sound devices”, a red box is around “Stereo Mix” under the “Disabled” heading
  4. Click on Stereo Mix, then select Enable.
    A red box is around the Enable button for Stereo Mix
    A red box is around the “Enable” button for Stereo Mix

Disable front panel jack detection

When you plug in your headphones with a satisfying click, your PC should automatically detect them from the audio jack, releasing a notification that you’ve plugged in an audio device. However, this sometimes gets bugged or corrupted, resulting in interruptions preventing your PC to send audio to your headphones properly.

Disabling this automatic front panel jack detection can stop these disturbances, and, thus, help you enjoy your headphones the way you intended to. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Right click on Realtek HD Audio Manager. Go to Sound Manager.
    Sound Manager. (From: YouTube/TechXotic PH)
    “Sound Manager”. (From: YouTube/TechXotic PH)
  2. On the upper right side, click on the small folder icon.
    Click on the folder icon on the upper right side. (From: YouTube/Tech YouTubers)
    Click on the folder icon on the upper right side. (From: YouTube/Tech YouTubers)
  3. Check the Disable front panel jack detection button, then click OK.
    Disable front panel jack detection option in Realtek HD Audio Manager. (From: YouTube/Tech YouTubers)
    Disable front panel jack detection” option in Realtek HD Audio Manager. (From: YouTube/Tech YouTubers)

Conclusion

That’s everything you need to know about dealing with headphones not showing up on Windows 10. Try these fixes and you’ll definitely be able to enjoy your headphones once again.

Now, you won’t face problems while watching your favorite show using your trusty pair of headphones. You need not worry about being unable to use your favorite pair of headphones either!

What do you think? Like these tips? Let us know!