How to Get the Classic Volume Mixer Back in Windows 11

How to Get Classic Volume Mixer Back in Windows 11

Windows 11 offers a lot of significant improvements over Windows 10. However, it also stumbles in some regards. For example, the right-click menu is over-simplified – and so are the new volume controls. Or rather, the new volume control, for it’s a sole bar through which you can control the volume for all software.

Read on to see how you can get the functionality of the classic volume mixer back on Windows 11.

The New Mixer

Windows 11 allows you to control the audio level from a speaker icon on the Taskbar like its ancestors. However, unlike previous versions, the options on Windows 11 are somewhat limited. Left-click on that icon, and you’ll find you can only turn up or down the “global” volume.

Classic Volume Mixer New Volume Control
Windows 11’s new volume control.

Thankfully, Microsoft has included an extended volume mixer in Windows 11. It’s not the default audio control solution, but it’s easy to find and use.

  1. Use the right instead of the left mouse button on the same speaker icon to access the volume mixer. Then, select Open volume mixer from the mini-menu that pops up.

    Classic Volume Mixer Open Volume Mixer
    Launching the full volume mixer.

  2. It needs one extra click and shows up on a separate window. And yet, this volume mixer is better than the default single audio bar. With it, you can control the active input and output devices, the “global” volume, and set sound levels per app.

    Classic Volume Mixer System Sound Volume Mixer
    Windows 11’s volume mixer.

The Classic Sound Volume App

If you prefer controlling your audio the traditional way, you’ll have to run an in-built app called Sound Volume.

While Sound Volume isn’t accessible from the start menu, desktop or taskbar, you can find it in search:

  1. Press Windows Key + R to open the Windows Run dialog, type sndvol, and hit Enter. Alternatively, use the Start menu’s search and search for “sndvol”. Select the app to run it. Note that the full filename of the app is “sndvol.exe”.

    Classic Volume Mixer Start Sndvol
    Running the hidden sndvol app.

  2. Sndvol offers a more familiar volume mixer. Still, it lacks some of the functionality of the extended volume mixer found in Settings.

    Classic Volume Mixer Sndvol Mixer
    The classic sndvol volume mixer.

  3. If you want easy access to Sndvol, you can pin it to your taskbar. With Sndvol’s window active, right-click on its icon in the Taskbar. Then select Pin to Taskbar.

    Classic Volume Mixer Sndvol Pin to Taskbar
    Pinning the sndvol volume mixer on Windows 11’s taskbar.

Use a third-party classic Volume Mixer

If none of these solutions cut it for you, there’s always the option of using a free third-party app. That’s the sole reason Classic Volume Mixer exists.

Classic Volume Mixer is a simple app for a single task. It allows you to control Windows audio “the old-fashioned way”. It’s a third-party open-source solution, which you can download and install like any other app.

  1. Go to Classic Volume Mixer’s page on Github.

    Classic Volume Mixer Github Page
    Classic Volume Mixer’s Github page.

  2. Scroll down to the latest release’s “Assets” section and download the app .exe. At the time of writing, it’s version 2.1.

    Classic Volume Mixer Github Download Link
    Classic Volume Mixer Github Download Link

  3. We should note that the app’s download is an executable file but not an installer. Your browser might warn you against downloading executable files. In this case, you should make an exception and proceed with the download. For example, if using Edge, click on the button with the three dots next to the downloaded file. Select Keep from the menu that pops up.

    Classic Volume Mixer Warning Keep Exe
    Choosing to keep Classic Volume Mixer’s executable.

  4. The same is true for any antivirus you might be using. In our case, Microsoft Defender’s SmartScreen system sprung into action. It blocked Classic Volume Mixer’s download to protect us from this “untrusted file”. We had to expand the Show more dropdown menu and select Keep anyway.

    Classic Volume Mixer Microsoft Defender Warning
    Microsoft Defender warning.

  5. When Classic Volume Mixer’s download completes, run the app.

    Classic Volume Mixer Open Downloaded File
    Opening the downloaded Classic Volume Mixer file.

  6. Classic Volume Mixer will run with zero notifications in the background. It won’t display any window, nor will you notice any change on your desktop. Instead, you’ll find it hiding among the tray’s extended list of icons. You’ll have to expand the tray through its arrow button to locate it.

    Classic Volume Mixer Tray Icon
    Classic Volume Mixer’s tray icon.

  7. Digging in the tray’s hidden icons to find a volume control is far from instant or ideal. Thankfully, you can have Classic Volume Mixer’s icon always remain visible. Right-click on the Windows taskbar to go to the Taskbar settings.

    Classic Volume Mixer Taskbar Settings Option
    Taskbar Settings option.

  8. The Windows Settings’ “Taskbar Personalization” window will show up. Scroll down and expand the Taskbar corner overflow section.

    Classic Volume Mixer Personalization Taskbar Corner Overflow
    Personalizing Taskbar Corner Overflow.

  9. Scroll down until you find the new Classic Mixer entry. Then, flick its visibility switch On.

    Classic Volume Mixer Tray Visibility On
    Setting Classic Volume Mixer Tray visibility to on.

  10. After that last tweak, Classic Volume Mixer’s icon will remain visible on the Windows tray. A single click on it will have the familiar volume mixer window pop up on the bottom-right of the screen.

    Classic Volume Mixer Instantly Accessible From Tray
    Accessing Classic Volume Mixer from Windows 11’s tray.

  11. There’s another problem: you’ll have to run Classic Volume Mixer every time you log into your desktop. That can be annoying, too. So, why not have the app run automatically? Open a File Explorer window and go to the downloaded ClassicVolumeMixer.exe location. Then, right-click on the file and choose the Copy icon (or press CTRL + C on the keyboard).

    Classic Volume Mixer Copy File
    Copying Classic Volume Mixer’s file.

  12. With the file copied to the Clipboard, click on the File Explorer’s address bar. Type shell:startup (notice there are no spaces) and press Enter to move to the Windows startup folder.

    Classic Volume Mixer Windows Explorer Shell Startup
    Visiting the Shell Startup folder with Windows Explorer.

  13. Right-click in File Explorer’s window and choose Paste (or press CTRL + V). This action will paste the downloaded file to this folder. Any app or shortcut in this folder auto-loads when you log into your desktop. Thus, after the next reboot, Classic Volume Mixer should run automatically.

    Classic Volume Mixer Paste File
    Pasting Classic Volume Mixer’s file in the Shell Startup folder.

Audio at Your Fingertips

A “global” audio control might be enough for many people. However, we believe every user should be able to decide which is the best solution for them. Even if Microsoft “forgot” to offer a straightforward way, you can now do it yourself.

Erik is a full-time product quality engineer at the IBM who has a passion for teaching others (and always learning) about technology. He has a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Eindhoven University of Technology. Erik is the chief editor for Windows, Linux and coding tutorials.

Leave a Comment