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I have loudspeakers and headphones, both of which are connected to the PC all the time (the headphones are wireless so what is actually connected to the PC is a USB cable from the cradle). If I want to switch from one to the other, I need to navigate to the Sound control panel, select the other speakers and click Set Default.

These is quite a lot of steps, isn't there a way to switch playback devices more easily using some 3rd party software or a clever hack? Something like a desktop gadget or Windows task bar jump list.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Can use the SoundSwitch.

enter image description here

You can also quickly access using mmsys.cpl in dialog box (i2 + R).

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1  
Win+R and mmsys.cpl isn't faster than Win+"sou"+Enter :) – Borek Jul 20 '13 at 9:28

Another great way to conveniently switch the default audio device is to use command line nircmd.exe.

Download source file: http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/nircmd.html

To create a Nircmd shortcut right-click on:

  1. the desktop -> New -> Shortcut and enter the command into the box (nircmd.exe setdefaultsounddevice [Device Name]),
  2. Then click Next and give it a name such as "Switch to Speakers".
  3. Double clicking Nircmd will copy it to the Windows directory for you, so if you don't do that,you will need to supply a path to the nircmd.exe in the shortcut.

enter image description here
Screenshot of how to do it on desktop

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