How to Switch Between Laptop Speakers & Headphones

Updated February 21, 2017

Most laptop computers are equipped with a set of built-in stereo speakers and an Audio Out jack for connecting headphones or a set of external, self-powered speakers. When computing on the go, it's convenient to pack a set of headphones in the laptop case for enjoying music or listening privately to a recorded conversation, such as an interview uploaded from a digital audio recorder. Since the built-in laptop speakers are designed to shut off when headphones are used, switching between the two speaker systems takes only seconds.

Locate the Audio Out jack on the laptop. This is the port for connecting external self-powered speakers or a set of headphones. On most laptops, the Audio Out jack is located along the left edge of the cabinet or the back connection panel.

Dial down the volume on the laptop before connecting or wearing headphones if an audio source is already playing. In Windows, the volume control can be accessed quickly by double-clicking the volume icon in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. This icon resembles a small loudspeaker cone. Double-clicking the icon will display a volume control with a slider switch that can be moved by clicking and holding the slide with the mouse and dragging it to the desired position. Many laptops also have keyboard controls for audio volume, so check your laptop's manual.

Insert the plug on the end of the headphones cord straight into the Audio Out jack. This will automatically shut off the laptop's built-in speakers for private listening through headphones.

Switch back to the built-in laptop speakers by unplugging the headphones.


Store headphones in a soft, cloth drawstring bag to keep them clean and prevent damage to the delicate earpieces when not in use. Connect an external pair of self-powered speakers using the same Audio Out jack as used for the headphones. External desktop speakers almost always deliver better sound quality than the built-in speakers on most laptops, which often sound thin and reedy.


Adjust the volume to a comfortable level while enjoying audio through headphones to prevent hearing damage.

Things You'll Need

  • Laptop with built-in speakers
  • Headphones with 1/8-inch miniplug.
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

James Clark began his career in 1985. He has written about electronics, appliance repair and outdoor topics for a variety of publications and websites. He has more than four years of experience in appliance and electrical repairs. Clark holds a bachelor's degree in political science.