How to Troubleshoot a Computer Not Playing Music

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Check discrete volume controls on your headphones to make sure they're turned up.
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Microsoft's Audio Diagnostic Tool offers the quickest and most painless way to troubleshoot a lack of audio from your Windows 8.1 PC. Alternatively, if your computer is not playing music and other audio, you can also perform some quick troubleshooting yourself to remedy the problem.


Microsoft Audio Diagnostic Tool

Microsoft has a free, automated Audio Diagnostic Tool designed to automatically fix audio problems on your computer. Use this tool first to scan your computer in order to determine what fixes are required. The tool tells you whether you need to update your audio drivers, for example. If you do, it then guides you through the process of doing so.

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Check Your Audio Settings and Connections

If you can't access the Audio Diagnostic Tool or would prefer to troubleshoot manually, start with basic connections and settings before proceeding to more complicated troubleshooting. Make sure your computer's main audio controls aren't muted. Move your mouse to the bottom-right corner of your screen, click "Settings" and select "Volume Control" to view your current settings. If you have external speakers, check that they are turned on and plugged in to the correct port on your computer. If you're trying to play music and other audio through Windows Media Player or a third-party audio or video player, make sure its discrete audio controls aren't muted and that its volume is turned up to an audible level.


Test Wireless Speakers

If you're using wireless speakers, make sure they're plugged in or that their batteries are charged. If your speakers transmit using Bluetooth, verify first that Bluetooth is turned on on your computer. Move your mouse to the bottom-right corner of your screen, select "Settings" and then click "Change PC Settings." Click "Wireless" and toggle the "Bluetooth" switch to the On position, if necessary. Bluetooth has a maximum transmission range of roughly 33 feet, so attempting to use speakers at or beyond this range may prevent audio from playing properly.


Troubleshooting Headphones

If you're using wired headphones, make sure they're firmly connected to your computer and that their dedicated volume controls are turned up, if applicable. For wireless Bluetooth headsets, verify that the batteries are charged and that they are properly paired with your computer. To pair Bluetooth headphones, make them discoverable and then press "Windows-C" on your keyboard to open the Charms menu. Choose "Settings," click "Change PC Settings," select "PC and Devices" and then choose "Bluetooth." Verify that the "Bluetooth" switch is in the On position and then click your headphones on the list of available devices. Enter the headphones' pairing code, if prompted.


Windows Update

Updating your computer to the most recent version of Windows installs patches and other fixes designed to address common problems, including those related to audio. To update your computer, point your mouse to the bottom-right corner of your screen, click "Settings" and choose "Change PC Settings." Select "Update and Recovery" and then "Windows Update." Click "Check Now" and, if updates are available, click "Install" to install them.


Third-Party Drivers and Software

Some audio hardware manufacturers offer downloadable drivers directly from their websites. Updated drivers downloaded directly from the manufacturer can often fix audio problems that Microsoft's Diagnostic Tool misses. Visit the manufacturer's website for more information about drivers available for your devices.