'No Audio Output Device is Installed' Fix

Booting up your PC to listen to some music while you do housework and finding out there is no sound coming from your speakers is not a pleasant experience. The issue manifests itself most commonly through the "No Audio Output Device is installed" error that crops up in your Windows taskbar, hovering above your speaker icon.

The reason for this error message is simple - your audio card driver is either broken or missing. The circumstances and events that can lead to this happening are so diverse and numerous that it's not worth listing them all. However, the fix is really quite simple and painless.

To restore your sound card and driver to working order, all you need to do is reinstall your audio driver. To do this, follow those simple steps:

  1. Right click your Windows start menu and select "Device Manager". Scroll down the list of devices installed on your system and find the entry that is called "Sound, video and game controllers".
  2. Click on the little horizontal arrow to expand the list of sound, video and game devices.
  3. Find your device in the list. In most cases, unless you manually installed drivers, you will only have a single entry in the list and it will be called "High Definition Audio Device". This is the generic name that Windows gives to cheap, low-profile integrated sound cards that do not have a lot of extra hardware features and can work perfectly fine with the default audio driver Windows installs.
  4. Right click on your sound device and select "Uninstall". This will cause the driver to get completely wiped.
  5. Restart your computer. Upon boot, Windows will detect the driverless device and automatically install the proper driver for it, resolving any potential driver issues and broken drivers.

This fix is only applicable for the most commonly used sound cards in home computers and laptops - the onboard, integrated type of sound card. For discrete sound cards that have additional recording capabilities and extra input and output ports, the issue may need to be tackled in a different way.

December 21, 2020

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