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This post is close to my question, but not quite the same. What I'm trying to find out is, if I'm running an application and want to change which device it's using for audio output without quitting the application, is that possible?

Sometimes, my Bluetooth headset shows up as connected even when it's not -- I blame the device, and that's not my biggest current concern. The problem is, sometimes I'll start something that needs audio output -- a video chat, game, etc -- and it will start routing to this non-existent bluetooth device, rather than my speakers. I'd like to be able to fix this without quitting the video call, restarting the game, etc, but as far as I can tell changing the default audio device doesn't change the output being used by already-running programs. Is there another way to "change horses midstream" that I'm missing?

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I don't have an answer for Windows 7 (as I don't have any systems running Win7 anymore) but I can answer for Windows 10.

  • Right click the speaker icon in the taskbar and select Sound Settings
  • Under "Advanced sound options" you can find "App volume and device preferences"
  • Any app that is making sound will be listed here, and you can change its output device with a dropdown under "Output"

If you haven't launched the app in question yet, you can left-click the speaker icon as you would to change the volume, then look just above the volume slider. The name of the current default output device is there, and if you click it you will be given a list of other output devices, where selecting one will change the default.

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In Windows, Audio Output is software defined. Each software that wants to output audio to a different output device needs to implement this feature itself. Depending on how well the programm is coded, you'll have to restart the application for the changes to take effect.

You can play around a bit with setting the default output device in windows sound settings but that's about. There may be tools to make switching the default output device more comfortable.

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I have had success disabling the output device that the program is currently playing on.

On Windows 10, try the following steps:

  • Search for "Sound Settings" in the windows menu. It will say "System settings" in smaller text
  • Select "Manage sound devices" under the Master volume slider.
  • Click on the speaker that the program is currently playing on and "Disable"
  • At this point the program should play on another audio device, if necessary disable that one as well
  • You can now enable the audio device again by clicking on it and then clicking "Enable"
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  • I left an answer just now with more details about how this has improved in Windows 10. – James B Aug 31 '19 at 15:41
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My solution to this problem was to use a USB soundcard (I used the one that came with my Hyper X headset, but you can buy standalone USB soundcards for relatively cheap) for all your audio routing.

I set it as the default sound/mic device and when I want to switch from my headset to my speakers, I just unplug the 3.5mm headset jack and plug in the speakers. No more restarting my game when I switch from playing solo on speakers to joining my friend's party and using a headset.

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This is a late response but I want to answer for people looking for the answer.

I found that disabling the speaker that its playing on in playback devices forces the application audio over to the next device.

Just remember to re-enable it

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