Windows Volume Mixer

Over the last year I’ve come to love the little volume mixer in Windows Vista. I don’t know if it was around in XP – I didn’t notice it (and didn’t have a need for it then) – but since I’ve been using Skype more and more, and at the same time listening to podcasts, watching DVDs or playing a game, it has become very useful.

For those of you who don’t know what the volume mixer is (and I’m sure there will be plenty of friends pointing out it’s been on Mac’s since OS X and in every Linux distro’ for the last ten years), it shows you all the software which is outputting sound to your speakers and allows you to adjust how loud each on is. This is particularly useful when you are listening to more than one thing and it’s become such a staple of my computer use that it is now almost always open on the second screen.

If you are using Skype, and have all your sound coming out of the main speakers, the other thing I would recommend you get is some software to stop the microphone picking it up. I use the standard utility provided by Realtek with its motherboard chips, but if you don’t have something similar there should be plenty of free stuff around (although, for once I haven’t checked).