I can't hear any sounds on the computer

If you can't hear any sounds on your computer, for example when you try to play music, try these troubleshooting steps to see if you can fix the problem.

Make sure that the sound is not muted

Click the sound menu on the menu bar (it looks like a speaker) and make sure that the sound is not muted or turned down.

Some laptops have mute switches or keys on their keyboards—try pressing that key to see if it unmutes the sound.

You should also check that you haven't muted the application that you're using to play sound (e.g. your music player or movie player). The application may have a mute or volume button in its main window, so check that. Also, click the sound menu on the menu bar and choose Sound Settings. When the Sound window appears, go to the Applications tab and check that your application is not muted.

Check that the speakers are turned on and connected properly

If your computer has external speakers, make sure that they are turned on and that the volume is turned up. Make sure that the speaker cable is securely plugged into the "output" audio socket on the back of the computer. This socket is usually light green in color.

Some sound cards are able to switch which socket they use for output (to the speakers) and input (from a microphone, for instance). The output socket may be different when running Linux than on Windows or Mac OS. Try connecting the speaker cable to the different audio sockets on the computer in turn to see if that works.

A final thing to check is that the audio cable is securely plugged into the back of the speakers. Some speakers have more than one input too.

Check that the right sound device is selected

Some computers have multiple "sound devices" installed. Some of these are capable of outputting sound and some are not, so you should check that you have the correct one selected. This might involve some trial-and-error to choose the right one.

  1. Click the sound menu in the menu bar and click Sound Settings.

  2. In the Sound window that appears, try selecting a different output from the Play sound through list.

  3. For the selected device, click Test Sound. In the pop-up window, click the button for each speaker. Each button will speak its position only to the channel corresponding to that speaker.

  4. If that doesn't work, you might want to try doing the same for any other devices that are listed.

Check that the sound card was detected properly

Your sound card may not have been detected properly. If this has happened, your computer will think that it isn't able to play sound. A possible reason for the card not being detected properly is that the drivers for the card are not installed.

  1. Go to the dash and open the Terminal.

  2. Type aplay -l and press Enter.

  3. A list of devices will be shown. If there are no playback hardware devices, your sound card has not been detected.

If your sound card is not detected, you may need to manually install the drivers for it. How you do this will depend on the card you have.

You can see what sound card you have by using the lspci command in the Terminal. You can get more complete results if you run lspci as superuser; enter sudo lspci and type your password. See if an audio controller or audio device is listed—it should have the sound card's make and model number. sudo lspci -v will show a list with more detailed information.

You may be able to find and install drivers for your card by searching the Internet. Otherwise, you can file a bug.

If you can't get drivers for your sound card, you might prefer to buy a new sound card. You can get sound cards that can be installed inside the computer and external USB sound cards.