We have an application which needs an audio input device, or at the very least an audio output device to do anything useful with it. Our user base will include people with limited English ability, or for that matter reading ability. I've spent more time trying to find an answer (MSDN style guide, questions on this website, etc) than I think I should have determining if there is a simpler or better way of saying:

  • No audio output device found.
  • No audio input device found.
  • no audio devices found.

I am thankful for any input.

  • I should mention a little bit more background. Our users are primarily people who are interested in doing language development in a minority language, so in many cases the user's language doesn't yet have an alphabet. Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 21:16

3 Answers 3


If they have limited English ability, why not use pictures in addition to words?

Something like a mic with a circle-line (like in a non-smoking sign) would be simple for "No audio input device found. Please connect an audio input device like a mic or headset and try again." And headphones or speakers crossed out for "No audio output device found", etc.

You could also have multiple pictures of input devices crossed out underneath the text.

  • I really like this idea, especially given that many in our user base are either marginally literate, or not at all. I hadn't thought of that before in this case. (I'm new to UI / UX design) Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 21:14
  • 1
    I believe that's the symbol for mute. I don't think this would go well, as the user would become frustrated trying to figure out how to unmute.
    – Evorlor
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 2:29

So, a screenshot from an Ubuntu VM which had audio disabled seems a good way to handle this. I will submit a UX proposal which displays greyed out audio device symbols and a simple message.

No Microphone found image from Ubuntu

This next screenshot is the idea that I will present to the other team members who have been critiquing the UI/UX for this project. My proposal for handling no audio devices

Credits: @pkr298, your answer along with the comment by @Evorlor moved me in the direction to this solution.

I modified the microphone graphic from our project images, and the speaker and headset from this icon project.


Just handled this myself on an app I'm working on. It's an enterprise transactions app, but users will include untrained volunteers. So simplicity is critical.

What we did is just have a simple message on the page where the audio device (it uses the microphone) that says "your card swiped is not connected". This is clear: the device in question is not registered by the application. We've tested this with users and found no problem with them understanding the repercussions, though we're still challenged by how to "fix" device connection issues.

For an audio-only accessory like headphones, I'd suggest something just as simple, perhaps with an action: "Please plug in headphones" or "Headphones not connected". Really it'll depend on the audio source type you're talking about, or if there isn't a specific type then just "Audio source not connected" or "Please connect audio source."

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