How to Find Which Program Is Making Sounds in the Background?

Every now and then my PC located in the bedroom emanated a sound at random intervals, probably caused by an application playing a short media file. And I noticed it twice when entering the bedroom which I thought was a mere coincidence. But it wasn’t actually! Guess what’s the relevance here?

Control Panels – Sounds was the first place where I checked. It was not the Sound Scheme as it was already set to "No Sounds".

With almost a dozen applications running and I didn’t want to disturb them, I fired up the excellent Process Monitor right away, configured the filters so that any entry with ".wav" in the Path is captured. It may not necessarily be a .wav file, but I had a suspicion that it could be, in this case. So I included ".wav", to start with.

After leaving it in Capture mode for about 5 minutes, Process Monitor displayed some relevant events.

WNA1100.exe is the Netgear configuration software that came with my Netgear WNA1100 (Wireless-N 150 USB) Adapter. This software seems to run the ConnectToInternet.WAV file located under the Netgear directory. It’s obvious that the WAV file is played whenever the system / Wi-Fi adapter establishes connection to the internet.

Why the Intermittent Sounds?

The wireless router was located in the first floor of the building, and the signal strength was way too low in the bedroom which is one floor down, and several bends away from the router. The signal strength was fluctuating very often, causing several connect/disconnect sequences within a span of 10 minutes.

No internet access when the signal strength is at its lowest

Access: Local and Internet when the signal strength improves.

Later on I noticed that the sound was certainly reproducible whenever the bedroom door was opened…. that’s when the signal strength improved by 2 points.

For now, I simply disabled the audio and pop-up alerts by right-clicking on the Netgear icon in the Notification area, and disabling the option "Enable Internet Connected Notification" via the context menu. I’m now planning to relocate the Wi-Fi router to improve coverage. Otherwise an additional Wi-Fi Router for the ground floor or a Wi-Fi repeater would be in order.

And if you think what I did was a roundabout way….. believe me it just took 5-7 minutes to track down the source application that caused the sound. Is your PC playing a random audio in the background and that has got you at your wit’s end? This guide can help.

About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.

20 thoughts on “How to Find Which Program Is Making Sounds in the Background?

  1. Thanks!!!
    Mine turned out to be a messaging app — a sound every time a coworker checked in or out. 125,000 coworkers!

  2. This was amazing, thank you for your help. Turned out mine was my Corsair keyboard due to a problematic update from them. Since I had recently installed Skype and it was making the same sound as the chat I was sure it was Skype especially because so many were complaining about Skype’s notifications appearing even after logoff and quitting the app.

  3. Thanks, found out mine was explorer.exe. That was pretty mind boggling, a reset of explorer didn’t do anything, so I went through each of the sounds in the windows profile until the found “Device Hardware Remove”. It finally dawned on me that I have an old phone I keep plugged into my computer to use as a webcam and it had been auto connecting and disconnecting. I wasn’t getting any notifications because I had turned the annoying pop up off, by telling it “To do nothing when device is plugged in”. Thank you for posting this up! My peace of mind can finally return and now I can get some actual work done!

  4. ANy suggestions besides .wav. I am using the .wav, but procmon is not finding anything and I am still hearing a blip every minute or two. Sometimes two in a row very quickly. Checked the Mixer for applications, but nothing showed up. Set system sound to none and that didn’t make any difference.

  5. I’ve shared your page with my friends. PIDGIN was constantly making noises, similar to “Add Hardware / Remove Hardware” in Windows 8.1 Pro. After taking your advice, I was able to quickly identify the culprit. Stopped all Pidgin processes – No noises!

    You just saved me a lot of headaches! Cheers!

  6. Probably, this is the stupidest question you must have ever received, still here it goes.

    I am facing similar issues and I set up audio filter as you mentioned in the first and press button ‘Add’, do I hit apply and then OK? Or I should just hit Add and leave it as it is?

    I have like 9 million processes running, thats what it shows on the bottom ‘status bar’ of the process monitor.
    Could you please explain what am I doing wrong?

    Thanks a million in advance

  7. Oh god thank you! This was probably my problem. I had also set my computer to no sounds in an effort to make the sound quit, and it was still appearing. I have the same wireless connection hardware, and the option to change it was there. Now that I think of it, the sound did not occur when I had the usb unplugged. I hope this works. It should.

  8. Actually, if your wifi signal was marginal to your PC, it very may have been going off every time you entered the room… and functioning like an ad hoc sloppy door chime.

    Your body is 99% water, and objects with high water content (leaves, for example, or rain) are a big absorber (as opposed to reflector, like metal) of wifi signals. As you entered the hall and doorway, your body in the doorway blocked a weak signal to zero, and your computer lost the connection and played a chime. As you came into the room and sat down or moved elsewhere, the wifi driver picked up a signal again, and reconnected, playing the chime a second time (if it does so).

  9. This was my exact problem. I am going to name my first male child Ramesh. If that’s not a boy’s name, I don’t care.

  10. Well if you have Windows 7 or Vista, couldn’t you just open the full volume mixer which will show any app which is playing sounds and its sound level as well? Just mute it from there.

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