The speaker (volume) icon in Windows Vista's taskbar
Windows Vista volume (speaker) icon on the taskbar offers a bit more than meets the eye. The next tutorial will show you how to show or hide the volume icon on the taskbar; this tutorial focuses on giving you a good overview of what that speaker icon can actually do.
Windows Vista's volume icon states
The first thing to notice is that Windows Vista can display five different volume icons in the notification area of the taskbar ("system tray"). The screenshot montage on the left displays, respectively: volume of zero (no outgoing sound wave); then a very low volume (1-30%); a speaker icon with 2 sound waves indicates a medium volume (30-60% of sound card/speakers capacity); the loudest volume setting (above 60%) uses a speaker icon flanked by 3 sound waves; the last icon indicates a muted volume.
A quick way to determine the current volume is to hover your mouse cursor (pointer) over the taskbar's speaker icon: a callout will appear, indicating volume level (from an inaudible 0 to the loudest 100), the sound destination, and the name of the device used to propagate the sound information (e.g. sound card).
Changing the volume from the taskbar
If the speaker icon is showing in the taskbar, a single click on it will open a volume slider, which can be moved up or down very easily by moving your mouse wheel up or down (alternatively by dragging the slider's head up or down).
Below the slider, a button allows you to mute or un-mute the sound: a single click determines whether the sound is blocked or not. (On a side note, a volume of zero is different from muting the volume, which has no impact on sound loudness.)
A click anywhere outside the slider will dismiss it, while maintaining the new sound level.
Windows Vista's volume mixer
To open Windows Vista's Volume Mixer, click the volume slider's Mixer link. Through the volume mixer, Windows Vista lets you control the sound volume at the application level: you can mute one program's sound feedback or output, while leaving another's intact. Likewise, each current opened application can have a different volume level:
If you want to launch Windows Vista's volume mixer directly: it is a standalone system application located at