3 ways to set the default microphone in Windows 11

In Windows 11, plugging in a new microphone usually sets it as the default recording device. However, if you constantly connect and disconnect various sound inputs, you might find that your usual microphone for Skype or Teams calls is no longer working or that the mic settings are not correctly restored. In this tutorial, we show you three ways to check and set the default microphone in Windows 11. Want to know how to set the default microphone for each app or for the whole system? Read on:

Quick Steps

Change the default microphone using the Settings app:
  1. Open Settings by pressing Windows + I and then look for Sounds, in the System section.
  2. Click or tap on Sounds to access the related settings.
  3. Next, scroll down to Input. There, you should have the list of available microphones.
  4. Set the one you want as the default recording device by clicking or tapping on the round checkbox before the name.

Default audio device versus default communication device

Windows has separate settings for communication and audio, and you can see the two options when selecting a default. However, it does a poor job at explaining the differences between the two.

Defaults for communication and audio can be different

Since they have different usage scenarios, you should know which one applies to your particular case, so here’s a short explanation:

  • Default communication device - the device that Windows uses for calls and video calls in dedicated apps such as Microsoft Teams or Skype
  • Default audio device - also displayed as Default device - the device used by Windows for all other applications that need audio input and output.

It’s worth mentioning that for web-based calling or video conferencing (for example, using Google Meet on your favorite browser), the relevant setting is the default audio device, not the default communication device.

1. Change the default microphone using the Settings app

A simple way to set the default microphone in Windows 11 is by using the Settings app. Open Settings by pressing Windows + I and then look for Sounds, in the System section. Click or tap on Sounds to access the related settings.

Click on Sound in the System section of the Settings app

Next, scroll down to Input. There, you should have the list of available microphones. Set the one you want as the default recording device by clicking or tapping on the round checkbox before the name.

Scroll down to Input and click the checkmark next to the microphone name to set it as default

If you need it, you can set different microphones for communication and for audio recordings. To do this, click or tap on the microphone you want to configure in the list above. This opens the settings page for the chosen recording device. Locate the “Set as default sound device” option in the General section. Click or tap on the button next to it to expand the list, then choose one of the two available options.

The menu allows you to set defaults for audio and communications

NOTE: If the “Set as default sound device” option isn’t visible, the chosen microphone is already the default device for both communication and audio.

2. Set the default microphone for each app using the volume mixer

Another way to quickly change the microphone used as default is by right-clicking on the volume icon on the taskbar and choosing “Open volume mixer”.

Open the volume mixer from the taskbar

In the Volume mixer window, locate the Input device field and click on the button next to it. In the list, select the microphone you want to use. Please note that this changes the default input device for audio only, not for communication.

Expand the list next to Input device and select one of the items

If you want to change the microphone that each application uses, you can find the programs that have microphone access in the Apps section of the Volume mixer window. Find the app you’re interested in, then click the arrow on the right. This lets you specify the input and output devices for that application. Next, click on the button next to Input device and select the desired microphone. The changes are applied immediately.

Set the default microphone for each application in Windows 11

3. View and change the default microphone using the Control Panel

If you are used to working in the Control Panel, you can change the default microphone from it. First, open the Control Panel. One way to do this is by pressing the Windows + R keys on your keyboard to open the Run window. Then, type “control” and hit Enter on your keyboard or press OK.

Open the Control Panel using the Run window

In the Control Panel window, go to Hardware and Sound.

Go to Hardware and Sound in the Control Panel

Locate the Sound section and click on it or on Manage audio devices. This opens the Sound window.

Any of the two highlighted links will open the Sound window

HINT: you can quickly access the Sound window directly from the desktop by pressing Windows + R, typing “mmsys.cpl” and hitting Enter.

Next, go to the Recording tab. The tab lists all recording devices, including microphones and other audio inputs. It also shows which of the devices are set as default.

Select the microphone you want to set as default and then press the Set Default button. If you want to set the microphone as default for audio or for communication only, press the arrow next to the Set Default button instead and choose one of the displayed options.

Setting the default output device using the Control Panel

Alternatively, you can right-click the microphone in the list, then select one of the options in the context menu. Press OK to close the Sound window.

Use the context menu to set the default microphone in the Sound window

Do you change the default microphone often on your Windows device?

Now you know three ways of changing the default microphone in Windows 11. Before you close the page, we’re curious to know if you often change the default microphone manually or if Windows does a good job at selecting the correct input device. Please let us know in the comments. If you know of another way of changing the default microphone, share it, and we will update the article.

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