New Windows 11 Build Adds Mute/Unmute on the Taskbar

Posted on November 3, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 11 with 23 Comments

Microsoft has released a new Windows 11 build to the Dev channel in the Windows Insider Program, and it adds a missing feature that the software giant promised back in June: a Mute/Unmute toggle on the taskbar.

“Starting with Microsoft Teams today, you’ll find a microphone icon automatically added to your taskbar when you’re actively in a call,” Microsoft says of build 22494. “You can see your call audio status, what app is accessing your microphone, and quickly mute and unmute your call at any time.”

As you may recall, I published an article about missing promised features in Windows 11 features back in late September, and this Mute/Unmute feature was prominent in the list. But with Microsoft now finally testing it with Insiders—albeit in an A/B testing scenario, sorry—it looks like it’s finally on the way.

“When you join a meeting, you will see the following icon instantly appear in your taskbar,” Microsoft notes. “The icon will be present throughout your call, so it is always accessible, no matter how many windows you have open on your screen.”

For now, it works with Microsoft Teams (commercial) only, but developers can add this capability to any app.

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Comments (23)

23 responses to “New Windows 11 Build Adds Mute/Unmute on the Taskbar”

  1. blue77star

    I am done with Windows. The only reason I am on Windows 10 was because of gaming and hardware support otherwise I would stay on 7. I can drag Windows 10 as long as I can, most likely Windows 11 is going to be even replaced by Windows 12 by then.

    • taswinfan

      Yeah we've got it. Heard you the first 5000 times you complained. Don't get it then.

      • jgraebner

        Agreed. It totally puzzles me why he finds the need to post these irrelevant anti-Windows comments on every single article about Windows 11.

        I really wish this site would follow the lead of this Windows 11 update and add a "mute" button to the commenting system.

        • sledge

          Yup they get boring fast. What's worse is they post the same drivel on other tech sites. (At least some of those do have a mute/ignore option).

          This site desperately needs this so they can shout into the void without us having to hear the same garbled self centred vitriol ad nauseum.

      • navarac

        Another one who's own subjective view believes no-one else can have a different opinion. Like "Blue77star", I've had it with Microsoft.

        • garethb

          Anyone can have an issue with Win11 (or anything else) - but when the same complaint (with almost no actual reasoning) is repeated ad infinitum on every post vaguely referencing Windows on this site.... it sadly makes reading the comments unpalatable.

          Yes, anyone who had read any of these comments knows (assuming they care to remember) that blue77star doesn't like the direction Microsoft is going in. In some cases, I would agree, but you know what, I'm completely fed up with reading the same troll posts multiple times a day.

          As much as being able to edit your post might be important to some, I would like a feature where I can just not read several members posts. Don't care if 1 in 1000 times they post something useful, because the rest of the time it's just troll bait. Sorry all, I fed a troll.

    • owenm

      Then why go to a news site about Microsoft?

    • LocalPCGuy

      Adios. In the meantime, those of us familiar with how long it took to get Windows 10 into a fully usable state for most, will wait the additional year or two until Windows 11 is buttoned down and nothing to really complain about anymore. MSFT might even surprise me and have it rock solid in months. Nah.

      • Donte

        IMHO Windows 10 never reached completion in comparison to Windows 7 or XP. It got better yes but they would do stuff like adding that news feature to the taskbar or the people feature (now gone) and not finish other stuff like a consistent gui.

        Windows 11 feels like that progress rolled back for a new UI pulled fr the failed Windows 10 X/Chrome OS competitor. I too mainly have a Windows PC for gaming. My new M1 Pro MacBook Pro has become my primary computer. I am even considering moving to next gen console gaming to satisfy my gaming needs and ditching Windows because of the craziness of Windows.

  2. hrlngrv

    For little stuff like this, I like a taskbar indicator, but I prefer to use the keyboard for such toggles. FWIW, this sort of thing is EASIER AND MORE FLEXIBLE to configure in Linux.

    Does MSFT provide a keyboard toggle for this? Or is this another instance in which I'd need to use AutoIt or the like, or .LNK shortcuts for mute/unmute commands?

  3. Christopher Spera

    OK... *I'M* confused...

    I have build 22494 installed on a Surface Laptop Studio and a Surface Book 3 and the microphone icon doesn't show up in the Taskbar. On the SLS, I have a Microphone and Camera toggle switch in the upper right corner of the device screen. On the SB3, I do NOT have this toggle switch; and NEITHER has the microphone icon in the Taskbar.

    I also don't see anything in Settings or anywhere else that would turn that icon on or off. Am I missing it??

  4. lewk

    I'm confused, why isn't this a universal button for the OS system level microphone setting? Why is this application specific only? I sincerely can't see Zoom, Google, Apple, Skype etc ever adding this functionality to their applications. This in my opinion is another failure on Microsoft's part to implement a good feature correctly.

  5. nerdile

    Why is this only for Teams? Shouldn't this show up anytime any app is listening to the microphone?

    • wright_is

      Exactly, the hardware mute buttons on keyboards and headsets already change the status globally and tell the applications that the user is muted - and the headsets/keys respond to the software telling them that the user is muted/unmuted.

      This must currently be done through the microphone driver, so why doesn't MS simply hook into the driver like everyone else? Why make a new, crippled API to do what previous versions Windows could do, but only for supported applications and not globally, like it already does/did?

    • timwakeling

      That's what I was thinking. Surely Windows is the gatekeeper to all hardware so it ought to be able to apply a global mute whether or not apps choose to "support" it. It does this with speakers already; why not microphones? Making it rely on app support does water down the usefulness of it somewhat.

      • ringofvoid

        The ChromeOS canary builds have a new flag for a physical mute/unmute key on the keyboard so it appears that's coming for Chromebooks. To maintain parity, I'd hope that Windows gains global mic mute capabilities

      • christianwilson

        I suspect it is not a global mute switch because this interfaces with Teams (hopefully others in the future) and will properly update your mute status to others in the call you are attending.

        This is a good thing because people can double mute by muting their video call and also global muting. This button would confuse people if it wasn’t interfacing direct to a call app.

        • timwakeling

          That's a good point; I hadn't thought of that. Perhaps the button should be a global mute but ALSO activate the mute function in any call apps where supported - in one press. That would incentivise app creators to support it in order to avoid the confusion you mention. :)

  6. LT1 Z51

    Yea, but it sounds like it's only for Microsoft Teams. What if I use another Conferencing Suite (like WebEx)?

    Also I updated all My PCs to Windows 11, and just said f-it I'll get used to the new Start Menu and other weird things. Heck, I even bought Start 11 for my work Windows 10 PC to get the "Windows 11 like" menu on my old machine.

    I just want one user interface.

  7. jdawgnoonan

    When I think of the many pointless features that we have seen Microsoft put in Windows over time it is quite refreshing to see something that on the surface seems so small yet is a great and truly useful new addition.

  8. christianwilson

    I love the idea of this feature. Video conferencing can be hectic sometimes and having this universal spot on screen for someone to mute/unmute is smart. I hope this feature gets adopted by Webex, Zoom, Blue Jeans, etc.

  9. jeffferguson

    I'm still on Dev build 22483, having not yet upgraded to 22494. This icon started appearing, and working, today during my Teams calls. I wonder, then, if it is tied to Teams, rather than to a specific dev build ... ?

  10. orbsitron

    Disappointing that it doesn't apply at the hardware level. If app devs have to opt in, there is no guarantee that the mic mute is actually muting the microphone.

    A useful shortcut for Teams and perhaps one day Skype, Discord etc, possibly, but isn't truly a privacy guarantee or a universal shortcut that can be relied upon.