Some Lenovo systems, like the Lenovo Y510P, send a system tray notification when a device is plugged/unplugged from the audio or microphone jack.

Audio jack notification

To me, however, this notification seems redundant; the user knows that he/she plugged the device into the physical port, so why does Lenovo deem it necessary to notify the user of this action that the user physically had to complete?

Is there some user experience reasoning behind this decision that I'm unaware of?

  • Plugging in headphone can trigger an analog or digital switch from interal speakers to external device. Having the notification depends on user expectations and software capability (can the switch even be detected?). For some users it not not be self-evident that plugging in headphones disables the speakers. I, for one, would find the noticiation pointless because I expect it to work this way. So maybe it is redundant, depending on user expectations.
    – J_rgen
    Apr 20, 2015 at 11:21

3 Answers 3


Its a visual indicator that his action was successful and system can use the jack now. It can be considered as a derivative of Neilson's heuristic i.e.

Visibility of system status

The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time.

Though a popup is intrusive and not the best way to communicate information,it is often a common design method to inform users that the system state desired has been achieved so that he can take the desired next steps

enter image description here

Another reason for why the information is provided in this case would be due to the fact that inserting the Jack would normally override the standard audio through the speakers and hence the visual feedback that there is a change in state from the normal audio through the speakers to now audio being available through the headphones.


That notification comes from software that is used on multiple lenovo laptops. In some cases, there is one audio port (1/8 inch / 3.5mm). The audio port serves as input and output. If you have a lenovo laptop with one port, further dialogue takes place asking what the device is (headphone, microphone, line in, etc.) For one port machines, I think it is necessary. The software/user lets the OS know to switch the port to input or output.

If you think the OS can tell the difference between headphones and a microphone, it can't. Plug standard headphones into your microphone jack. Yell into the headphones while running something like Adobe Audition to record. When reversed, headphone become a microphone.

  • Maybe that is why you see old movies with people holding a microphone-like thing up to their head and talking in to something that looks like a speaker? :)
    – user67695
    Sep 7, 2016 at 15:33

Lenovo isn't the only one; Samsung and a lot of other PC makers do this. Their reasoning is that if your headphones don't work for whatever reason, the user isn't made aware of it at all. So the slight pop-up is an alert that yes, you're plugged in.

Some of the smarter built computers also will differentiate between headphones and headsets (with a microphone), which is more useful since headsets tend to have their microphones damaged over time.

However a large number of computer makers do this in a terrible way, with blocking pop-ups that ask the device type and what you'd like to do with it. That's overly complicated and annoying and gets in the way. That's why in the past most companies displayed nothing when plugging in headphones. That's why Apple still to this day doesn't do it, and why Windows by default doesn't do anything.

  • We went from the user having to do all the install stuff manually, to the computer doing it all, and back to the computer now asking the user to do something, even for obvious "stupid" devices like headphones.
    – user67695
    Sep 7, 2016 at 15:35

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