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How to change sound output Windows 10 (HDMI, headphones, optical out)

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Changing the audio output on your computer can be pretty frustrating. Something that should be very simple, has very few options for anyone doing anything out of the ordinary (playing sound through headphones and speakers, automatically playing through headphones when plugged in, or setting audio to go out over AUX rather than HDMI).

There is one simple way to accomplish most of this in Windows 10, using sound settings in the control panel. The easiest way to access this is to right click the sound icon in the bottom right corner, and choosing playback devices.

Change Sound Output Windows 10

The playback devices window is a list of all the ways to play sound from your computer, including any AUX (headphone jack) ports, HDMI, SPDIF, DisplayPort, etc. Anything installed in your system that has drivers should show up. In the image from mine below, the first few are HDMI output (video and audio on the same cable), then my AUX port (generally known as a headphone port), and then the optical output (uses fiber optic cable).

List of Windows 10 Audio Devices

To set a certain device to output audio, just right click on it and set it as default. Whichever one has the green checkmark is the current default device, and will play sound for whatever media you play.

Set default audio device in Windows 10

If you specifically don’t want a certain device to play audio, you can also right click on it and disable it. To re-enable it, right click in the window in the white space, choose show disabled devices, and then right click on the one you disabled and choose enable.

If you need to do anything more advanced, unfortunately it can’t be solved with default settings in the operating system. I have another tutorial on using the program audio switcher that helps with this, and can allow you to output to multiple devices, or override default audio devices.

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