How to Set Up an External Microphone in Windows

If you are interested in using the microphone on your computer for more than just basic, personal tasks, you may find yourself wanting a higher-quality microphone than the built-in one your computer uses. But how do you set up an external mic on Windows and make it the default?

Setting Up Your Microphone

Whether you decide to use a USB or Bluetooth external microphone, the first thing you need to do is to connect and install it. Windows will usually find and install the drivers automatically, but if for some reason that doesn’t happen when you connect the microphone, you should check the manufacturer’s website and download the drivers from there.

Once the drivers are installed, it’s time to set up the microphone.

1. Right-click on the volume icon on the task bar in the lower-right corner of your screen.

2. Click on the Sounds option.


3. In the sound window select the Recording tab.

4. Select the microphone you want to use.


5. Click the Configure button. The Speech Recognition window will open.


6. Click “Set Up Microphone” (Note: this tool is designed to optimize for speech recognition, but using this will configure your microphone better for your voice.)

7. In the Setup Wizard select the kind of microphone you want to configure.


8. Click Next.

9. After this, a screen will appear that gives you information concerning how to use your particular microphone.

10. The wizard will then give you a text to read aloud into your microphone. Do that and click Next when you finish.

11. Click Finish to close the wizard.

A message will appear if your computer did not hear you when you read the text. If this happened, it’s probably because either your microphone was muted or there could be more than one microphone listening for your voice. It will also inform you if you were not heard clearly and suggest ways to fix that problem as well.

Testing Your Microphone

If at any time your mic doesn’t seem to be working correctly, you can always go through these next steps to be sure it hears your voice.

1. Right click on the sound icon as we did previously to open the Sounds window.

2. Click the Sounds command.

3. Switch to the Recording tab to see a list of your installed devices.

4. Speak into the microphone and see if the green bars next to your device move up and down with your voice. If they are, then your device is working correctly.


If you want to make sure that your external microphone is the default sound input device, there are two different ways to access this setting.

Using the Control Panel

1. To find the Control Panel, type those words into the search box on your task bar.


2. Open the Control Panel, and tap on the Hardware and Sound icon.


3. Click on the Recording tab.

4. Right-click on the recording device that you want the system to default to, and click on the option to Set a Default Device.


4. Click OK.

Using Settings

Find Settings by typing it into the search bar, or click on the Windows button and click on the gear (usually the second icon from the bottom).

1. Open settings and click on the System icon.


2. Click on Sound on the left side of the screen.


3. Choose your input device from the drop-down menu on the right side.


I hope these directions make it easy for you to install a new, high-quality microphone for all of your audio needs!

Tracey Rosenberger Tracey Rosenberger

Tracey Rosenberger spent 26 years teaching elementary students, using technology to enhance learning. Now she's excited to share helpful technology with teachers and everyone else who sees tech as intimidating.

One comment

  1. What do you do if there is nothing in the recording tab other than an output? I’m using an RME and it doesn’t show a mic.

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