Creating a shortcut to change the default audio device in Windows

by Shijaz Abdulla on 13.05.2013 at 15:25

Most of us use multiple audio devices. Sometimes its a headset, at other times it’s the default laptop speakers, and at other times it might a speaker system connected to your docking station or even a webcam microphone.

Unfortunately, switching between the various audio devices can be tedious as you need to change the Windows “default device” or the “default communications device” each time for both recording and playback.

Today we’re going to see how you can create simple shortcuts on your taskbar that let you effortlessly switch between audio devices.

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The three shortcuts you see in my little “Audio Control” custom toolbar let me switch between by Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000 headset, Internal Speakers and Logitech c920 HD webcam microphone. Here’s how I created these shortcuts:

Note: I have tried this on Windows 8, but I am pretty sure it will work on Windows 7 too.

1. Download the NIRCMD utility and extract it to a folder on your computer, let’s call it C:\NIRCMD

2. Open your Windows Playback devices (Right click on your speaker icon on the taskbar).

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Note the names of each of the devices you need to change. You can click on Properties to view the correct name. You will need the exact same name for the NIRCMD command to work. If you have two devices with the same name (example: “Speakers”) you will need to rename one of them so that they are unique. Click Properties if you need to rename devices.

Note the names in a text file for easy copy-paste.

In my case, the three playback device names are:

  • “Headset Earphone”
  • “Speakers”

3. Do the same with recording devices. Note the names in a text file. In my case the names of my 3 recording devices are:

  • “Headset Microphone”
  • “Microphone”
  • “C920 Microphone” (renamed)

4. Now open the C:\NIRCMD folder, create a new batch file for each device, let’s call them SPEAKERS.BAT, HEADPHONE.BAT, and WEBCAM.BAT

5. Use similar commands as below for each of the BAT files. Use the device names you copied earlier.

SPEAKERS.BAT

@ECHO OFF
C:\NIRCMD\NIRCMDC setdefaultsounddevice "Speakers" 2
C:\NIRCMD\NIRCMDC setdefaultsounddevice "Internal Microphone" 2
C:\NIRCMD\NIRCMDC setdefaultsounddevice "Speakers" 1
C:\NIRCMD\NIRCMDC setdefaultsounddevice "Internal Microphone" 1

HEADSET.BAT

@ECHO OFF
C:\NIRCMD\NIRCMDC setdefaultsounddevice "Headset Earphone" 2
C:\NIRCMD\NIRCMDC setdefaultsounddevice "Headset Microphone" 2
C:\NIRCMD\NIRCMDC setdefaultsounddevice "Headset Earphone" 1
C:\NIRCMD\NIRCMDC setdefaultsounddevice "Headset Microphone" 1

WEBCAM.BAT

@ECHO OFF
C:\NIRCMD\NIRCMDC setdefaultsounddevice "Speakers" 2
C:\NIRCMD\NIRCMDC setdefaultsounddevice "C920 Microphone" 2

Notes:

  • The “1” in the NIRCMD command line argument indicates that the device is set as “Default Device”. A “2” in the command indicates that the device will be set as a “Default Communications Device” (useful for Skype, Lync etc).
  • The device name string should be EXACTLY the same that is defined in Windows.

6. Test each batch file by double clicking on them and observing if the default device changed.

7. Create a folder "Audio Control” for your custom toolbar. Your NIRCMD folder should look like the below now.

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7. Inside the Audio Control folder, create three shortcuts to the batch files that you created in step 5. Click Change Icon in the shortcut file properties if you want to change the icons like I have done.

8. Right click on an empty space on your taskbar and choose New toolbar.

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9. Choose the C:\NIRCMD\Audio Control folder. You now have an awesome new Audio Controls toolbar.

You will appreciate the one-click ease with which you can now change your default audio device in Windows. Leave a comment and let us know your feedback! 🙂