Have you ever had music playing loudly on your speakers when the phone rings… then you fumble for the speaker switch or the pause button on your music playing application while trying to answer the phone? Instead of bothering with that, I’ve always simply created a shortcut to mute the system volume instantly with the press of a key.

Of course this isn’t terribly helpful if you have a multimedia keyboard with a mute button onboard, but some computers just don’t have one, or you don’t want to run the software required to make the keys work.

Create the Shortcut

In order to mute the system volume, we’ll use a small utility called NirCmd that we’ve mentioned numerous times before, since it’s the swiss army knife of useful shortcuts.

Right-click on the desktop and choose New \ Shortcut from the menu.

In the location box, you’ll want to browse down to the location of where you saved nircmd.exe, and then add “mutesysvolume 2” as arguments. You’ll probably want to put quotes around the path to the executable, like this:

“C:\Path\To\nircmd.exe” mutesysvolume 2

Note: the “2” argument tells nircmd to toggle mute, so if you use the shortcut or hotkey again, it will untoggle. I find that to be the most useful, but you could pass an argument of “1” to only use mute. All of the arguments can be found on the NirCmd page.

Give the shortcut a useful name like “Toggle Mute”, and then open up the properties of the shortcut. Here you can assign a shortcut key, or you can change the icon to something else.

I found the speaker icon in the following file, but you can choose another icon if you’d like:


Remember when using a shortcut key, you’ll want to keep the shortcut on the desktop or move it into the Start menu… the shortcut keys don’t seem to work when the shortcut is in the quick launch menu.

Either way, you should now have a shiny new shortcut that will mute or unmute the system volume.

Download NirCmd from nirsoft.net

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Lowell is the founder and CEO of How-To Geek. He’s been running the show since creating the site back in 2006. Over the last decade, Lowell has personally written more than 1000 articles which have been viewed by over 250 million people. Prior to starting How-To Geek, Lowell spent 15 years working in IT doing consulting, cybersecurity, database management, and programming work.
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