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I have a Dell computer running Windows 10, which I often use for Skype and other teleconference collaboration. Sometimes, these are large calls and it's very important for participants to mute ourselves when not speaking, or else background noise can overwhelm the main speaker. In some cases, external events can produce embarrassing moments for someone who's unintentionally failed to mute.

My computer has a keyboard with a Fn button for mute (Fn+F4), and that F4 button has a small LED indicator light (like the one on Caps Lock) which theoretically indicates when the mic is muted.

Usually, if that light is on, I am on mute and applications should not be able to listen in on what's happening in my environment. Skype says "your mic is muted from your desktop" and things function as intended.

However, on a recent call, the mute light was on but everybody could still hear me speaking just fine, and activating/deactivating the mute function using the Fn key did not seem to correlate as it should to actually being on mute.

Is there an easy way to see with greater confidence whether or not my mic is on mute from a system perspective, for example via an icon in the system tray? There's one there showing me if my speakers are muted. (Or, is there a way to make that keyboard mute indicator light more reliable?) This is independent of any mute controls specifically within an application or browser window, and should visualize the system-wide mute control.

This question refers to microphones built into the computer; I have no peripheral mics or peripheral webcams/other microphone-containing devices plugged in.

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  • Windows defines no mic mute button. This feature can only be realized using third-party software which often comes with notebooks. What software like that actually does? Who knows.
    – Daniel B
    Jun 13 '18 at 17:14
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Unfortunately, it does not appear this is possible without a third-party app. I see no option to easily view the status of the Mic from the volume control in the system tray, and the Sound Settings don't show the mute status either.

Microsoft's support site says that this isn't available currently either.

https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_10-other_settings/how-do-i-get-a-microphone-icon-to-display-on-the/ebee5de5-719e-4f93-ad7e-709d74cbf986

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Windows 10 (after version 1809 according to the link at bottom) displays a microphone tray icon when the mic is in use by one or more programs. If you see that icon, something's using the mic. If you want to know what's using the mic, hover over the mic tray icon:

screen cap of microphone icon with mic in use and not in use

There are additional controls and information in the settings menu: Start > Settings > Privacy > Microphone

This includes a handy list of programs that have used the mic, and when they last accessed it.

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4468232/windows-10-camera-microphone-and-privacy#:~:text=A%20microphone%20icon%20will%20be,icons%20appear%20on%20the%20taskbar

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  • 1
    Thanks for the answer! However, this mic icon still shows up in the system tray when the mic is muted via the system mic. You can do that test in Audacity as shown above, and speak to see that it's recording content, then system-mute the mic and continue speaking: Audacity will just record flatline silence but "Audacity is using your microphone" will continue to appear in the system tray.
    – WBT
    Sep 10 '20 at 21:07
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Usually if you have the video conference SW open it'd show if you're muted. However if you have it in the background because you're multi-tasking I could appreciate the need for this. I did confirm Win10 v20H2 does constantly show microphone icon in system tray even when it's muted. Below are some utilities for this, I haven't used any of them, but do let us know your results if something does work out.

MicMute, Talk Toggle, MuteMyMic

https://alternativeto.net/software/micmute/

https://zapier.com/blog/disable-mic-webcam-notifications/

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Later versions of Win10 provide a mic status icon in the status tray. As an alternative to some of the suggestions provided by @gregg, AutoHotKey can be configured to hit the Mute button in MS Teams (or whatever app). Here's the script I use for F12 and the Mouse thumb button as Mutes:

#NoEnv  ; Recommended for performance and compatibility with future AutoHotkey releases.
; #Warn  ; Enable warnings to assist with detecting common errors.
SendMode Input  ; Recommended for new scripts due to its superior speed and reliability.
SetWorkingDir %A_ScriptDir%  ; Ensures a consistent starting directory.
SetTitleMatchMode, 2 ; Allow substring matching in WindowTitle
#SingleInstance Force ; Force killing old version of script if it's still running

XButton1::
F12::
SetTitleMatchMode, Slow
WinGet, original, ID, A
if WinExist("Microsoft Teams")
{
   WinActivate ; Use the window found by WinExist.
   Sleep, 50
   Send ^+M
   Sleep, 50
   WinActivate, ahk_id %original%
}
Exit

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