Headphones Not Working on Dell Laptop? Here’s How To Fix It


Using headphones provides privacy and an individualized auditory experience, whether you are listening to music or tuning in to your favorite podcast. Whether you are traveling for business or simply seeking a bit of privacy, knowing what to do if your headphones are not working on your Dell Laptop is essential to save time and an unnecessary headache.

Headphones Not Working on Dell Laptop?

First, access your laptop’s control panel. From your home screen, navigate to Start > Control Panel. Alternatively, you can also search for “Control Panel” after selecting “Start” or using the search section of your operating system, depending on your current system. 

Navigate to the Hardware and Sound section of your computer’s hard drive.

Locate and select the sound icon, typically appearing as a volume icon.

Select which audio device you would like to use. 

Verify Your Headphone Connection

Verify that your headphones are properly plugged in and connected to your laptop. If you are unsure of whether or not your headphone jack is working, plug in another audio device to test the port’s viability.

Ensure that there are no cuts or tears in your headphone cords. If you are using wireless headphones, check to ensure that they are fully charged and that they do not require a driver update or new software to work with your Dell laptop.  

Turn the Sound Up

While this may sound obvious, many users oftentimes forget to check whether or not the volume on their speakers or on their computer is up and turned on. At times, your volume may be turned down, muted, or even disabled. Ensuring that your sound is actually on and up is essential if you have headphones not working on a Dell laptop, regardless of the type of headphones and Dell laptop you are using. 

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Navigate to the Sound/Volume icon towards the bottom left or right of your computer screen. Click on the volume icon and allow the sound levels to appear. From this screen, you will have the ability to see whether or not your sound is turned on, muted, and what level it is turned up to, regardless of the device you are using. Turn up the volume to determine whether or not your volume is producing the proper output.

It is also important to check additional devices, such as plug-and-play speakers or even built-in speakers with your computer tower or monitor themselves, depending on your setup. Checking more than one type of audio output option will help you to navigate issues you are experiencing with your headphones. When you know whether the issue is driver-based or port-based, you can address the issue and find a proper solution in less time. 

Check Disabled Devices

At times, it is not uncommon for a device to become disabled, whether purposefully or even on accident. If you are unaware of this possibility, discovering your headphones are no longer working can quickly become frustrating and overwhelming. One way to check if your headphones are disabled is to navigate to the volume icon, typically located in the bottom right or left-hand area of your screen.

Right-click on the volume icon to select “Open Sounds Settings”. From this tab, you can then navigate to “Manage Sound Devices”, where a list of available audio devices will appear. Locate your headphone audio device. Upon clicking on the device that is labeled as your headphones, you will be presented with both Test and Disable buttons.

If your headphones have an “Enable” button, they are not currently enabled and are considered disabled. Simply select “Enable” to permit the usage of your headphones on your Dell laptop again. 

Research Headphone Drivers

If your headphones are not working on a Dell laptop, one of the first steps to take is to research the headphone drivers you may need. Not all headphones and plug-and-play devices work automatically upon being plugged in, depending on the type of headphones you are using as well as the version or type of Dell laptop you are using.

Research the specific name, brand, make, and model of the headphones you want to use with your Dell laptop. Learn more about which driver(s) are required in order to use your headphones when using them with a Dell laptop. Ensure that your preferred headphones are compatible not only with your Dell laptop itself but also with the operating system or version of Windows you have installed. 

Check and Update Drivers

Another common culprit of headphones not working properly on a Dell laptop often involves outdated sound and audio drivers. When a computer’s drivers are not updated regularly or kept updated with today’s technologies, you run the risk of not having the ability to use your plug-and-play devices, including headphones.

Check the drivers of your computer by navigating to your computer’s Device Manager. You can find the Device Manager by accessing the Start menu and locating the Device Manager or searching for Device Manager via your search bar. 

Browse for the Sound section of your Device Manager. From this section, you can search for various sound plug-and-play devices as well as video and game controllers.

Double-click the audio device (headphones) that you are interested in using. The driver tab will open and provide you with additional options.

From the Driver tab, select “Update Driver”. You will be prompted to choose between automatically searching for the driver(s) you need for audio and other devices on your Dell Laptop, or you have the option to manually search for and enter the driver you require. If you are unaware of the type of driver you require for the headphones you intend to use with your Dell Laptop, allow your Dell Windows laptop to search automatically.

In order for the Windows Driver search to work properly, you must be connected to the internet. Verify your internet connection prior to searching for the Windows driver you need for your headphones. 

Update Additional Drivers

In addition to your standard sound and audio drivers, update any outdated computer drivers. Updated computer drivers can help fix other issues that are interfering with headphones and other audio devices you are using.  

Taking the time to research and check various aspects of your headphones is a way to save time while helping you get to the bottom of your audio issue. Whether you are dealing with an outdated driver, a short in a cord, or if you are having trouble with your Dell laptop’s port, knowing how to navigate audio issues is essential.

With a few steps and diagnostics tools, you can learn how to repair any headphones not working on your Dell laptop without becoming frustrated and completely overwhelmed. 

Steven Carr

Steven is a certified IT professional and gaming enthusiast. He has been working in the tech industry for over 10 years, and specializes in all things Tech-related. When he's not geeking out over the latest hardware or software release, he can be found testing out the latest video game.

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