With more video calls taking place than ever before, the importance of a reliable microphone has never been greater.
Unless you've got a solid pair of headphones, you might be relying on your laptop or PC's built-in mic.
This is perfectly serviceable most of the time, until it stops functioning altogether. If you've tried all the usual fixes but nothing seems to be working, here are some potential alternative solutions on Windows 10.
Check microphone options
Your first port of call should be to check that your microphone has permission to run and that the relevant app can access it.
Head to Settings > Privacy, where you'll see Microphone under App Permission. Ensure it says 'Microphone access for this device is on', and that the 'Allow apps to access your microphone' toggle is 'On'.
From here, you can also choose which Microsoft Store apps have access to the microphone. Make sure the one you're using is toggled on, especially if you can't remember granting permission when you first downloaded it.
Finally, at the bottom of this page you'll see a heading which says 'Allow desktop apps to access your microphone'. Make sure this is set to 'On' too.
Under advanced sound options you should also see 'App volume and device preferences'. It's worth checking the volume here, as well as making sure the right input and output devices are selected.
Check physical connections
If everything looks in order with permissions, you'll want to double check that everything is connected as it should be.
If you're using an external microphone, this may be plugged into the USB-A port or headphone jack. Pull out the cable and plug it back in again, ensuring the connection is secure connection. It might also be worth restarting your PC in this instance.
Run the troubleshooter
You may have only seen Windows 10's troubleshooter appear when it detects an issue, but it can also be triggered manually. There's even one specifically for problems with recording audio.
Head to Settings > Update & Security and choose Troubleshoot. Recommended troubleshooting will display at the top of the page, but scroll down and you should see a 'Playing audio' option. Click this and then 'Run the troubleshooter' to get started.
Head to Device Manager
If your software is up to date (there are regular bug fixes available on Windows 10), another thing worth updating is audio drivers.
These are specific pieces of software that allow the microphone itself to communicate with the operating system. Updates are usually delivered automatically, but you can check for yourself in Device Manager.
Type 'Device Manager' in the search bar next to the Start Menu and choose the first option that appears.
Under 'Audio inputs and outputs', you should see an option that says 'Internal Microphone'. It may also say 'Microphone Array' on some devices.
Right-click this and choose 'Update driver' and ensure it searches automatically for the latest version.
From the same right-click you can also disable and re-enable, scan for hardware changes and even uninstall the device. However, we'd only recommend doing the latter if you have the driver file on hand to easily reinstall.
If using an external microphone, it's worth going to the manufacturer's website to see if any relevant drivers can be installed on your device.
If none of the above options have done the trick for you, it may be a hardware problem which requires professional attention. If you're using an external mic, try connecting it to another device to see if it's the accessory or the PC that's causing problems.
Got issues with your audio output? Check out how to fix sound problems in Windows 10