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How to Find Which Program Is Making Sound in the Background
Every now and then, my PC located in the bedroom emanated a sound at random intervals. This was 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 wasn’t. I couldn’t figure out what it was.
Control Panels → Sounds was the first place I checked. It was not the Sound Scheme as it was already set to “No Sounds”.
I then opened the Volume Mixer to find out the program responsible for playing the unidentified music on my computer. But when I looked through the Volume Mixer, the 3rd column said: “Name Not Available”. Randomly, the music just popped right up into the speakers. It lasted for a few seconds.
Find which program is playing random music in the background
With almost a dozen applications running and I didn’t want to disturb them, I fired up the excellent Process Monitor right away and configured the filters so that any entry with “
.wav” in the Path is captured.
It may not necessarily be a .wav file (it could be
.mp3 or any audio file type, as well), 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 a connection to the internet.
Why the Intermittent Sounds?
The wireless router was located on 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 fluctuated very often, causing several connect/disconnect sequences within a span of 10 minutes.
Later on, I noticed that the sound was certainly reproducible whenever the bedroom door was opened…. that was 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.
In most cases, you should be able to find the offending program by opening the Volume Mixer.
But there are a couple of disadvantages of this method. If the background sound is very short (or lasts a few seconds only), you need to have the Volume Mixer opened at the right time.
Also, any music file played by a program running as a service or Task Scheduler, may not be displayed correctly (in some conditions) in the Volume Mixer. The Volume Mixer might show “Name Not Available” instead of the program name.
In those situations, Process Monitor is your key!
If you have the Xbox Game Bar app (free) installed on your Windows 10/11 Computer, press Win + G to open the Game bar controls. It has a nice Volume Mixer interface.
The Game Bar method is very helpful, especially if you hear random notification music when you are inside a game. It also works when you’re on the desktop (i.e., not currently playing a game.)
Is your PC playing random audio or a notification ‘pop’ sound in the background, and that has got you at your wit’s end? One of the methods in this guide can help.