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Quickly Change the Audio Playback Device in Windows 10 Anniversary Update

Posted by Jim Tanous on August 31, 2016
speakers

A new feature in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update aims to make changing your audio output device easier. In previous versions of Windows, including all versions of Windows 10 prior to the Anniversary Update in August 2016, users with multiple audio devices attached to their PC needed to open the Audio Properties window in order to switch their audio playback device.
For example, if you have a set of USB speakers and a pair of analog headphones, you’d need to open the Audio Properties window to tell Windows 10 which device to use for sound output. This method wasn’t difficult, but it did require several clicks and a few seconds of your time.
windows 10 sound options

Changing the Audio Playback Device

In the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Microsoft has added a quick playback device switcher to the taskbar’s volume control. To use it, first make sure that you’re running Windows 10 version 1607 or newer. If you haven’t yet received the Anniversary Update via Windows Update, you can follow these steps from Microsoft to manually initiate the update.
Once you’re up and running with the latest version of Windows 10, left-click on the volume icon in your desktop taskbar. In previous versions of Windows 10, you’d see only the name of your current audio playback device and the volume slider:
windows 10 volume taskbar
In the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, there’s now an upward-facing arrow to the right of your audio playback device:
windows 10 anniversary update volume taskbar
Click this arrow to reveal a list of all enabled audio playback devices connected to your PC. For example, you’ll see options such as your laptop’s built-in speakers, integrated speakers in a monitor or connected television, external USB speakers or headsets, and any external audio interfaces.
windows 10 select audio playback device
Just click the desired audio playback device and Windows will switch to that device. Longtime Windows users with multiple audio devices will quickly find that this process is much faster than the old Audio Properties method. The Audio Properties window is still accessible, however, and provides additional audio setup and configuration options. But for simply switching playback devices, this new method in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update is the way to go.

13 thoughts on “Quickly Change the Audio Playback Device in Windows 10 Anniversary Update”

Jarrod Nelson says:
Nevermind, i looked at the comment above mine and found the solution.
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Jarrod Nelson says:
I used to be able to click on the speaker icon to do the switch, but now for some reason I can’t. I click on it but nothing pops up, can someone tell me what might be wrong and how to fix it? I can still switch by going to the sound options, but that’s the only way, and i dont want to go messing with my settings and screwing something up
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Lodan says:
After an update, this feature has disappeared for me, I used to use it everyday to switch between my Headphones and Speakers
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George says:
I still have it after updating to the latest version of Windows.
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Michael I says:
I have the latest update which is 10.0.16299. WinVer shows version 1709 and the new speaker switching has also disappeared after this latest update, done today. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how get this feature back again?
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Michael I says:
Solution from Microsoft:
Task Manager>Windows Explorer>Restart
George says:
This feature really comes in handy if you have more than 2-3 audio devices connected. I currently have 3. So, this feature makes it really easy to switch between them.
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TheOtherTurnipTaliban says:
I have a guitar, usb speakers, and a gaming headset, and switching between all 3 was driving me crazy right-clicking and properties all the time: Thanks so much!
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Nidya Tambayong says:
my speaker and headset is in one trigger someone can explain? i need to pluggin and out every time to switch between headset and speaker
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mIX says:
Thanks for the article. Was looking for a faster way to switch audio devices. Thankfully Windows has put the feature in now.
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Repairman Jack says:
Yo this is some super helpful shit. Subscribing.
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Sh Prishtina says:
Very helpfull article, saves me some clicks daily 🙂
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xyzxyzxyz says:
But this only changes the audio output when a new app is opened. The assignment of the audio output for already opened apps does not change
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peggyduncan says:
I am switching back and forth multiple times a day. This is such a cool tip so thanks!
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Zan Karren says:
Is there a way to have it do it automatically? For example if I have speakers and a headset plugged in and it is playing through my speakers and I turn off my speakers it can switch to my headset? Or can I set a hotkey for this?
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Luke Foord says:
Thank you. I switch between two audio devices multiple times per day. I had the anniversary update but had no idea this existed!
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