How To Fix "The device is being used by another application"?

How To Fix "The device is being used by another application. Please close any devices that are playing audio to this device and then try again." HDMI Audio Error In Windows 10

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) provides an interface between audio and video sources such as video display devices and other compatible components. Some device examples that can be a part of HDMI connectivity are computer and video monitors, video projectors, HD and Ultra HD TV's, Blu-ray players, digital cameras, camcorders, etc. There are several HDMI versions that have identical connectors but different capabilities. All newer HDMIs are compatible with older versions, however, to access the latest features, you must also use the corresponding latest HDMI version.

HDMI can be very useful when you want to watch various media on big screen TVs or to use other multimedia devices. There can also be problems with HDMI such as no audio when connecting devices using HDMI cables, or you might receive the error, "The device is being used by another application". In addition, the message might state that you need to close any devices that are playing audio on the device and try again.

A common reason for this error message are faulty, corrupted, or incorrect drivers, installed on the Windows operating system. There are also other possible reasons for this error message. In this guide, we present a number of solutions to address these common HDMI problems.

how to fix the device is being used by another application hdmi error

Table of Contents:

Run Windows Troubleshooter

First, simply run the Windows troubleshooter. Windows includes a number of troubleshooters designed to quickly diagnose and automatically resolve various computer problems. Troubleshooters cannot fix all problems, but they are a good place to start if you encounter a problem with your computer or operating system. To start troubleshooting, go to Settings, type "troubleshoot", and select "Troubleshoot" from the list.

run windows troubleshooter step 1

Find "Playing Audio" under "Get up and running", select it and click "Run the troubleshooter". Follow the instructions and see if this fixes the "The device is being used by another application. Please close any devices that are playing audio to this device and then try again." error.

run windows troubleshooter step 2

[Back to Table of Contents]

Close The Application

Since the error message states "Please close any devices that are playing audio to this device and then try again.", you can try to simply perform the actions requested. Press Windows (Win) key + R to open the Run dialog box. Type "sndvol" and press Enter on the keyboard or click "OK".

close the application step 1

This will open a window displaying the applications that are using the audio device. If there are any applications that are running and using the audio device, close them using Windows Task Manager. In our example, you can see that one of the applications using the audio device is "Steam Client Bootstrapper".

close the application step 2

Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc on the keyboard or right-click the Start button and select "Task Manager" from the contextual menu to open Windows Task Manager.

close the application step 3

You will see a list of processes that are running in the background. Find the application that is using the audio device and right-click it, select "End task" from the contextual menu, and see if this fixes the "The device is being used by another application. Please close any devices that are playing audio to this device and then try again." error.

close the application step 4

[Back to Table of Contents]

Disable Allow Applications To Take Exclusive Control Of This Device Option

Another method that might solve the problem and fix the "The device is being used by another application. Please close any devices that are playing audio to this device and then try again." error is to disable the "Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device" option. To disable this option, right-click the speaker icon on the Taskbar and select "Playback devices" from the contextual menu.

disable allow applications to take exclusive control of this device step 1

Now, select the problematic audio device and click "Properties".

disable allow applications to take exclusive control of this device step 2

In the playback device properties window, select the "Advanced" tab and uncheck the "Allow applications to take exclusive control of this device" option. Click "Apply" and "OK" to save the changes and exit the Properties window. Restart the computer and see if this fixes the "The device is being used by another application. Please close any devices that are playing audio to this device and then try again." error.

disable allow applications to take exclusive control of this device step 3

[Back to Table of Contents]

Restart Windows Audio Service

Windows Services (also know as services.msc), are used to modify how Windows services run on your system. These services are responsible for running available programs and managing many system settings and resources. You can modify a service's settings for security, troubleshooting, and performance-related reasons. One of these services is the Windows Audio service that manages audio for Windows-based programs. If this service is stopped, audio devices and effects will not function properly. If this service is disabled, any services that depend on it will fail to start or raise errors. To restart the Windows Audio service, open the Run dialog box by pressing Windows key (Win key) + R on the keyboard. You can also open it by typing "run" in Search and clicking the "Run" result. In the Run dialog box, type "services.msc" and press Enter on the keyboard or click "OK".

restart windows audio service step 1

You will see a list of services, find the "Windows Audio" service, and right-click it. Select "Restart" from the contextual menu.

restart windows audio service step 2

Also check to ensure that Windows Audio service's startup type is set to Automatic. Right-click the Windows Audio service and select "Properties".

restart windows audio service step 3

Find "Startup type" and check that it is set to "Automatic". If not, change it to Automatic and click "Apply" to save the changes. See if this fixes the "The device is being used by another application. Please close any devices that are playing audio to this device and then try again." error.

restart windows audio service step 4

[Back to Table of Contents]

Roll Back HDMI Audio Drivers

Roll Back Driver is a Windows Device Manager feature that is available in all versions of Windows. This feature enables you to uninstall the currently-installed driver of a hardware device and then install the previously-installed driver. This feature is typically used when latest or newer drivers are not working properly. The latest, updated drivers are often better than previous versions and include certain improvements, but sometimes they can actually cause problems rather than fix them. The Roll Back Driver feature enables you to simply uninstall the current driver and replace it with the previous version within a few mouse clicks. To roll back the HDMI Audio device drivers, go to Device Manager by typing "device manager" in Search and clicking the "Device Manager" result.

roll back HDMI audio drivers step 1

You will see a list of devices connected to the computer. Find "Sound, video and game controllers" and expand it by double-clicking the category or by clicking the arrow near it. Right-click the audio device and select "Properties". Ensure that you select the correct HDMI device by checking the graphics device you are using. In our example, both devices are named "Parallels...".

roll back HDMI audio drivers step 2

Now, select the "Driver" tab, click the "Roll Back Driver" button, and follow the instructions. If the button is greyed-out and you are not able to click it, a previous driver version has not been installed for this device. Restart the computer and see if this fixes the "The device is being used by another application. Please close any devices that are playing audio to this device and then try again." error.

roll back HDMI audio drivers step 3

[Back to Table of Contents]

Update The HDMI Audio Driver

If rolling back the HDMI audio drivers does not solve the problem, it might be caused by faulty or incorrect drivers. If the appropriate driver is not installed, the device might not function properly, if at all. To update the drivers, go to Device Manager and find the HDMI audio device under the "Sound, video and game controllers" section and right-click it. Select "Update driver" from the contextual menu. 

update hdmi audio driver step 1

You will be asked if you want to search for updated driver software automatically or to browse the computer for driver software. If you select the first option, Windows will search the computer and the Internet for the latest driver software for your device. If you select the second option, you must locate and install the drivers manually. Using this option requires having previously downloaded drivers on your computer or a USB flash drive.

update hdmi audio driver step 2

Another way to update or install new drivers for devices is to do it by using third-party software such as Snappy Driver Installer. You will need a computer with a working internet connection in order to download it.

Snappy Driver Installer (SDI) is a powerful free driver updater tool for Windows that can store its entire collection of drivers offline. Having offline drivers gives Snappy Driver Installer the ability to have access to fast driver updates, even if there is no active Internet connection on your computer. Snappy Driver works with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and also works with Windows XP. Drivers are downloaded through Snappy Driver Installer in 'driverpacks', which are simply collections (packs) of drivers for various hardware such as sound devices, video cards, network adapters, etc. It can also show duplicate drivers and invalid drivers. It separates the updates that require you to restart your computer so that they are easier to distinguish. You can download Snappy Driver Installer from here. 

Check if updating HDMI device drivers fixes the "The device is being used by another application. Please close any devices that are playing audio to this device and then try again." error.

update hdmi audio driver step 3

We hope that one of these solutions fixes the "The device is being used by another application. Please close any devices that are playing audio to this device and then try again." error. If you know any other methods, please share them with us by leaving a comment in the section below.

[Back to Table of Contents]

Video Showing How To Fix "The device is being used by another application" HDMI Audio Error:

[Back to Top]

About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter to stay informed about the latest tech news or online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

Our guides are free. However, if you want to support us you can send us a donation.