How Do I Tell Which Jack Is Input for Audio on My Computer?

Written by angela mitchell
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How Do I Tell Which Jack Is Input for Audio on My Computer?
(computer speakers image by sarit saliman from

With today's increasingly powerful multimedia computers, connecting your computer speakers or audio can be daunting, especially if you've never done it before. While many connections will be obvious – those for power, keyboard, printer, among others – connecting your audio output of choice to your new PC can be a daunting process. There are so many little input jacks, in so many colours, front and back! Fortunately, narrowing your choices down to the audio jack is really just a matter of knowing what to look for.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Computer CPU and Monitor
  • Power Source
  • Speakers/headphones

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  1. 1

    Set up your computer on a steady, flat surface. Your computer should already be connected and set up for basic function, plugged into a power source, and with keyboard, mouse, and monitor plugged into the back of the computer. Make sure you're working in a space with lots of light.

  2. 2

    Position the computer so that you can access and view the connections at the back of the computer as easily as the front.

  3. 3

    Take a look at the back of your computer, noticing the different connection ports your computer offers. You'll notice several connectors that seem to occur most often.

  4. 4

    Rule out the large 3-prong power connectors, as well as the connectors with slots for multiple pins, which are typically for monitors, printers, or (if small) keyboards or mice. You may also disregard USB ports for now -- while they're useful for connecting many peripherals, they're not part of your search for an audio connection.

  5. 5

    Locate the second most frequent port types, front or back, which are in fact the small, 3.5mm TRS jacks of different colours that you'll be using to connect your audio. A 3.5mm TRS jack is simply the standard-sized jack into which you plug your headphones into your iPod or most stereos, for example, so it's easy to recognise from all the other sockets.

  6. 6

    Now locate the small, green 3.5mm TRS jack on the back of your computer. This green jack should accommodate almost any audio device from headphones to speakers -- for instance, if you use headphones to listen to your iPod, those same headphones should also plug seamlessly into this same green connector. Meanwhile, if you plug speakers into the green audio jack, those same speakers will typically be strung from speaker to speaker to computer, so that you get 'stereo' sound.

    For easy location, when searching for the audio jack, you will very often notice a pink coloured jack that is typically situated next to (often to the left of) the green audio jack on the front of your computer. The pink jack, while the same size (TRS 3.5mm), is where your microphone should be connected, if you have one. If you do not use a microphone with your PC, then leave this plug alone and simply utilise the green jack for audio only.

Tips and warnings

  • As you connect your audio to your computer, you'll also want to keep in mind that as today's computer monitors become more complex, they themselves may also offer built-in audio speakers. So if you have an LCD monitor, for instance, that also has built-in speakers, you'll need to plug those speakers from the monitor into (typically) the audio jack connector at the back of the computer. You should still be able to connect your headphones from the front, as well, on an as-needed basis.
  • Beyond the basic connectors of your headphones and speakers to the 3.5mm TSR input jacks, you should need no additional peripherals or tools to connect them to your computer at all.
  • With this in mind, please take care NOT to insert any tools or objects into the ports as you familiarise yourself with them, not only because of the danger of electrocution, but because you could damage the ports themselves.

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