Scott Hanselman

Audio Switcher should be built into Windows - Easily Switch Playback and Recording Devices

April 04, 2018 Comment on this post [14] Posted in Tools
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Audio SwitcherI've been running a podcast now for over 600 episodes and I do most of my recordings here at home using a Peavey PV6 Mixing Console - it's fantastic. However, I also work remotely and use Skype a lot to talk to co-workers. Sometimes I use a USB Headset but I also have a Polycom Work Phone for conference calls. Plus my webcams have microphones, so all this adds up to a lot of audio devices.

Windows 10 improved the switching experience for Playback Devices, but there's no "two click" way to quickly change Recording Devices. A lot of Sound Settings are moving into the Windows 10 Settings App but it's still incomplete and sometimes you'll find yourself looking at the older Sound Dialog:

Sound Control Panel

Enter David Kean's "Audio Switcher." It's nearly 3 years old with source code on GitHub, but it works AMAZINGLY. It's literally what the Power User has always wanted when managing audio on Windows 10.

UPDATED NOTE: Turns out there are SEVERAL Windows Audio Switchers out there in the world, and they are all lovely. Also check out the more feature-ful Audio Switcher from Sean Chapman at with code at!

It adds a Headphone Icon in the Tray, and clicking it on puts the Speakers at the Top and Mics at the Bottom. Right-clicking an item lets you set it as default. Even nicer if you set the icons for your devices like I did.

Audio Switcher

Ok, that's the good news. It's great, and there's Source Code available so you can build it easily with free Visual Studio Community.

Bad news? Today, there's no "release" or ZIP or EXE file for you to download. That said, I uploaded a totally unsupported and totally not my responsibility and you shouldn't trust me compiled version here.

Hopefully after this blog post is up a few days, David will see this blog post and make an installer with a cert and/or put this wonderful utility somewhere, as folks clearly are interested. I'll update this blog post as soon as more people start using Audio Switcher.

Thank you David for making this fantastic utility!

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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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April 05, 2018 11:02
Furthermore, why should I click on audio icon for setting audio volume?
Why isn't enough to only hoover on it? Now: go there with mouse, click to open, mouse roller, click to close.
Why not just go there (hover), mouse roller and that's it?
Tons of these little use-cases are missing from Windows, not 3D paint and timeline :D
April 05, 2018 11:33
Hey Scott,

I've recently learned, that it's a bit easier to switch devices since Windows 10:
April 05, 2018 12:25
Audio router is another utility that should be built it.
April 05, 2018 13:34
I use this one, which has support for keyboard shortcuts (and I have a button on my Microsoft keyboard set to switch between Microphone and Speakers).

I use this when playing games (headphones) vs not.
April 05, 2018 14:14
There should also be built-in control for app-level output switching.
April 05, 2018 14:31
Well, talking about sound, I wish Windows could play the sounds over Wifi in my Onkyo receiver, not just over BT or from Windows Media player.
April 05, 2018 16:44
I personally use NirCmd.exe with the command line argument setdefaultsounddevice. I made a few batch files that each set the default sound/communication devices I want (i.e. headset, speakers, HMD) and pinned their shortcuts to my taskbar for one click device switching.
April 05, 2018 18:13
I've also been struggling with this for a long time. My solution has been the same as @Kevin above: NirCmd + A BAT of my own + mapped it to a mouse side button.
But I'm gonna give this one a try as well.
April 05, 2018 18:15
A lot of people don't know that you can do this....
April 05, 2018 18:42
Related tool: The windows mixer that should be built into Windows.
April 05, 2018 18:55
I'll second @Betty's comment about Audio Router needing to be built in to Windows. So nice to be able to send the audio of 1 application to one output device, and the audio from another application to another output device.

Audio router is another utility that should be built it.
April 05, 2018 21:33
This might be the best tip I've read here. I use my 2 different headseats, pa speakers, tv, and every time I switch between just watching a movie or communicating with someone it is a hazzle to switch.
April 06, 2018 12:30
Scott, do you have any tips/a post on how open source and hobby projects generate signed installers? Costs etc
April 06, 2018 17:49
Audio routing is an area where Windows has always been seriously lacking. On top of that, I *hate* the way adjusting the level of an application to increase the volume also adjusts the master level, but adjusting it down does not. Then, adjusting the master level down also modifies *all* the application levels. Seriously counter-intuitive, and not how mixers work IRL. I spend way too much time readjusting my levels after I accidentally mess them up.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.