Whether you're video calling your colleagues or embarking in a spot of multiplayer gaming, a working microphone is an important PC peripheral. Here's how to check yours is operating correctly in Windows.
Begin by checking the obvious - is your microphone connected? Newer digital mics will have a USB connector. Others will come with a traditional 3.5mm plug. On a desktop PC, be careful to connect the mic to the 3.5mm jack that's labelled as an input. Most laptops will have a single 3.5mm that accepts either headphones or microphones.
Your microphone should now show up in Windows. Open the Settings app, click the System category and navigate to the Sound page from the menu on the left. Scroll down to the Input heading, where you should see your microphone displayed in the "Choose your input device" dropdown. Select it from the list (note: "Line In" or similar refers to using the output from your speakers as an input source).
The next step is simple - say something aloud, or create some noise! You should see the blue bar below the "Test your microphone" text move as the ambient volume gets louder. If nothing happens, make sure your microphone is turned on. In the event your mic doesn't even show up in the dropdown, make sure your sound drivers are installed properly. Clicking the "Troubleshoot" button is a good first step to resolve this kind of issue.
If you're having problems being heard on video calls, adjust your microphone's volume so it's more sensitive to sound. Click the "Device properties" link and move the Volume slider to amplify the input signals. This should help you make yourself heard without having to shout (which could introduce unwanted clipping into the audio stream).