It’s happened to everyone at one time or another. You’ve signed on to Skype or TeamSpeak, initiated a call, and the person on the other side can’t hear you. You know you’ve checked the connection to the Mac, and everything should be working according to plan. Unfortunately, software doesn’t always agree with hardware when it comes to things working out the way they theoretically should. So, what do you do? How do you troubleshoot microphone issues on the Mac?

Check Program Settings
Some programs, including Skype, don’t always play well with default input settings on your Mac. The best way to make sure you’re set up correctly is by accessing the sound settings on the application itself. Is there an input selection menu? Does your microphone appear in that list? If so, select it and give it another try. Make sure the input volume isn’t muted or turned down.

Check Sound Settings
The first step in troubleshooting is making sure the system recognizes that the microphone is actually plugged in. Once that’s done, you can make sure it’s selected as the primary input device. Here’s how to do this:

  • Open System Preferences and select Sound in the Hardwaresection.
    • Alternatively, you can type Sound in Spotlight by hitting Space+Command.
  • Select the Input tab located near the top of the window.
  • Locate your desired input device in the list.
    • If you’re using a built-in microphone, select Internal Microphone by single-clicking on it in the list.
    • If you’re using an external microphone, select your desired mic in the list by single-clicking it instead.

If your device doesn’t show up in the list, there’s a chance that OS X may not recognize the hardware. You can sometimes solve this by searching for a Mac OS X driver on the manufacturer’s Web site. Once you’ve found the driver software, install it using the recommended process and try the previous steps again to see if your device appears in the list. Make sure the input volume isn’t muted or turned down.

If your device doesn’t appear to have a driver for Mac OS X, you may want to check the manufacturer’s FAQ or system requirements to determine if your device may not actually be Mac compatible.

Double-Check the Hardware
Pending none of those steps work, you may be facing either a hardware failure, or a problem that warrants contacting the manufacturer’s customer support team. In order to rule out hardware problems, you might want to plug the microphone into another system and see if it works there without a problem. Sometimes, simply switching a USB port can solve the issue if you’re experiencing a problem with the current port. This would indicate a problem with your computer rather than one with the microphone.

Given these steps, you should have your microphone up and running and ready to go.