How To Quickly Switch Between Audio Devices

I switch between using speakers and headphones quite often. Sure, you can do that by using your mouse to click multiple times, drilling through a convoluted Windows menu mess, but wouldn’t it be much simpler to only use a keyboard hotkey? That is what SoundSwitch lets you do. Here’s how…

System Requirements

  • Windows 7 or newer

Download And Install

You can pick up the latest version 5.8.3 on this SoundSwitch page. (This file came up 100% clean on VirusTotal.)

I did not have issues with the download or installation of this utility. And there were no gotchas to watch out for, either. How refreshing.

Usage

Note: Click on the images in this post to enlarge them for easier reading.

Playback Settings

Running SoundSwitch will place an icon in your System Tray. Right-click that icon to bring up a Context menu. Choose Settings and that should bring you here:

The Playback tab should be selected. Check the boxes for the devices you want your hotkey to cycle through. I did not check the box for the TV– I only want to switch between the headphones and the default speakers.

You will notice a box at the bottom of the window labeled Hotkey enabled. By checking this box, the indicated hotkey will switch between the devices you have chosen. To change the hotkey combination, click somewhere inside the edit box. Now use the hotkey combination that you would like to activate. Alt + Shift + S works for me.

Note: I tried using CTRL + Shift + S but SoundSwitch did not like that for some reason. It didn’t like the CTRL key at all, for that matter.

Settings

Clicking on the Settings tab will bring you here:

If you want your hotkey to work every time you start Windows, you’ll want to check that Start automatically… box.

The Updates were a wonderful surprise. SoundSwitch updated to the latest version only a couple of days after I installed it. It notified me, then when I chose to go ahead with the update, it updated. Imagine that! I didn’t have to restart anything. I didn’t have to reset any settings. The program didn’t have to restart. It was beautiful. I wish all software was this elegant.

While writing this short post, I discovered an overlooked checkbox for “switching the foreground program”. I play a game that won’t switch between sound devices once it has started. I am going to see if checking this box fixes that little problem.

Other Tabs

Two other tabs haven’t been mentioned: Recording and Profiles.

  • The Recording tab gives you the same options as Playback does, except it is, wait for it… for recording devices
  • The Profiles tab is interesting. Apparently, you can force certain software to use a specific playback and/or recording device when you run it. I will have to dig deeper into this to learn more

Conclusions 👍

I haven’t used this utility for more than a few days but I am already enamored with it. It sure beats having to dig through a bunch of menus to change a simple setting. I wholeheartedly suggest you give SoundSwitch a go if you find yourself switching among these devices often.

An aside: The reason I have to switch to headphones often is that I have a neighbor who listens to radical wingnuts yelling about radical things. And since yelling is not enough, he needs to listen to them yelling loudly. Now you know.

If anyone beats me to the punch and tries out those Profiles options, please let us know in a comment.

As always, if you have any helpful suggestions, comments or questions, please share them with us,

Richard

9 thoughts on “How To Quickly Switch Between Audio Devices”

  1. My version of Windows appears to sense when I plug in my headphones and makes the switch for me. It also works automatically with my laptop.

    1. Richard Pedersen

      Yes, Tom, that is the way it is supposed to work. Unfortunately, my RealTek driver doesn’t always do its job.

      I find it convenient to switch devices with the hotkeys.

  2. I’ll give it a try because M$ has their sounds totally hosed up the last few years. Twenty-seven thousand different places and ways and none of them have total control. These types of software usually hose it up worse though. What Tom spoke of above is exactly one of the features I have lost with the built-in drivers and apps from MS and the ROG SupremeFX 8 channel built into my MoBo.

    1. Just a quick note after installing. It fails to cooperate with Audacity. I know Audacity wants full control but that is my problem and when you start adding in what mic or speaker works with online Doctors etc. I have my doubts.

      1. Richard Pedersen

        Sorry to hear that you’re having problems with it. I don’t know enough about Audacity to make any recommendations.
        Maybe one of our readers can help?

    2. Richard Pedersen

      Hi Charles,

      I’ve been using SoundSwitch for a week or more now and haven’t had a problem with it. I only use it for two devices but it can cycle through as many or as few devices as you like.

      Another plus is that not plugging/unplugging devices all the time saves on the sockets themselves and the little solder joints holding them together.

      Richard

      1. Update. It is working about 75% better now. That is an improvement and getting into the settings and setting it all up helped. I would have thought it would ‘Detect’ the inputs and outputs, but…
        I guess it is a work in progress. Thanks

  3. Audacity likes to be in control. and it is one of the few and better programs that you can record directly from your output feedback. Not a great way of describing it, but should get the point across.

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