How To Identify Which Programs Are Making Sound In Windows

Yesterday I was sitting in my office doing my work and suddenly a sound started to come from my computer’s speakers. The sound was annoying and I wanted to close the program making that sound as soon as possible. In frustration, I had to plug out my speakers to keep it silent.

Ideally this is not a good solution as you don’t know when you have to plug out the cables of your speakers. In this article, we will discuss identifying the programs which are making sounds in real-time and close or mute them safely without muting the whole system.

Using Windows Volume Mixer to detect sound producing programs

After a lot of research, I have come to the conclusion that Windows Mixer, which comes pre-installed in Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1 and also Windows 10 is also the best tool to see which programs are making sound. The volume mixer shows all the programs which are using the sound card in real-time.

To open the volume mixer, either you can click on the sound icon in the system tray and then click on Mixer or simply go to Run –> sndvol.exe

Opening Volume Mixer from system tray

The default window size of the Volume Mixer is small and doesn’t show all the programs which are using the sound card at once. You will need to resize it horizontally to show all the programs.

Volume Mixer

In the mixer, you can see each program which is using the sound card. You can even mute or adjust the volume of an individual program.

Troubleshooting problems in the Mixer

If you can hear the sound but it is not coming from the Mixer window, it probably means that it doesn’t come with your administrative privileges. You should either login as an administrator or run sndvol.exe as System in order to show all the programs.

To run sndvol.exe as a System, run it as follows:

  1. Download PsExec from SysInternals.
  2. Open command prompt as Administrator (Windows Key + X + A).
  3. Go to the path of PsExec and run the following command:
    PsExec.exe -i -s sndvol.exe

    psexec command to run volume mixer in system mode

  4. This should open the volume mixer under your system account. You can confirm this with your task manager.
    Task manager showing sndvol running on system account

 Final thoughts

I wanted to test the same functionality with a third party app but unfortunately I wasn’t able to find one. If you find an app which can detect the sound emitted by each program in Windows, please let me know through comments below. I have been satisfied using Windows Volume Mixer but the only problem I face is that it doesn’t show any history. If it could be done, somehow, it would become perfect. What are your thoughts about this?

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