Changing the Windows XP "Default Beep" Sound

Tired of the "ding" sound of the Windows "Default Beep"?

Has a program hijacked your Sound Scheme, turning your Volume Control "ding" into a weird "beep" coming from the computer case?

Need to restore that loud obnoxious beep you used to know and love?

If so, here's the right fix.

The Windows XP "Default Beep" lives deep in a hidden place, not normally accessible to humans.

Follow these steps to obtain the capability to turn your Default Beep into any sound you desire. In most cases, you will just want to turn it back into the "ding" sound that came with Windows in the first place.

Several poorly-written installation programs will hijack your Sound Scheme and confuse Windows to the point that it assigns the "System Beep" (now known as the "Legacy Beep") to any application that normally uses the "Default Beep".

HP is famous (infamous) for this, as well as some sound card installation programs and downloadable games that come with their own sound schemes.

The "System Beep" (or "Legacy Beep") is that little buzz sound that comes from that tiny speaker built into your PC tower. This is a "board-level" function that is left over from the days of DOS, and will someday be eliminated completely. Most people have rarely, if ever, heard it.

The easiest way to see if this has happened to you is to move the slider on your volume control. If you hear a faint beep coming from your computer case each time you move the slider, you've been hijacked!

To get things back to normal, you are going to have to bring the "Default Beep"out to where you can see it, and thus be able to change it.

To do that, you're going to have to add a key to the registry.

If you don't know what that is, or you're not sure of what you're doing, just print this out and hand it to your geek computer friend/relative the next time he/she visits.

Step 1 - Print out this sheet so you can refer to it while working on your computer.
Step 2 - Fire up your computer and don't start any other programs while you're doing this project.
Step 3 - Click the START button, click "Control Panel", click "Sounds, Speech and Audio Devices", click "Sounds and Audio Devices", then click the "Sounds" tab. Look in the big box labeled "Program Events". The first section will be the "Windows" section. The entries below that are in alphabetical order. See if "Default Beep" is there in the list. If it is, that's great - just change it back to Windows XP Ding.wav or any sound you like. If "Default Beep" is not there, you'll have to tell Windows to put it there. That's where the registry key comes into play. Continue on...
Step 4 - Close all those windows till you're back to the desktop. Click the Start button, click "Run", type "regedit", and click OK. From here on out, don't start any other programs or do anything else till you're done and the Registry Editor window is closed.
Step 5 - Make sure "My Computer" is highlighted. It's the first line and it should already be highlighted. Click on File in the upper left corner. Select "Export". This will open a window that allows you to save a copy of the Registry (in case you really mess up). Navigate to My Documents if not already there, or Desktop. Name the file something like "B4_Beep_Change" or something similar. Click the Save button. It takes 30 seconds or so to save the entire registry.

*** Do the following steps exactly as described (and I do mean EXACTLY) ***

Step 6 - Click the "plus" next to HKEY_CURRENT_USER.
Step 7 - Click the "plus" next to AppEvents.
Step 8 - Click the "plus" next to Schemes.
Step 9 - Click the "plus" next to Apps.
Step 10 - Click the "plus" next to .Default
Step 11 - In the list that drops down, make sure there is not another folder named ".Default" in the list. If there is, click the X in the upper right corner of the Registry Editor to close regedit - the problem is in Sound Schemes and not Default Beep. If a second .Default folder is NOT there, continue on...
Step 12 - Highlight .Default (the same folder you just expanded).
Step 13 - Click Edit on the top menu, select New, select Key. A "New Key #1" folder will appear at the bottom of the expanded list, and it will be highlighted.
Step 14 - Type .Default on the keyboard. Be absolutely sure you have a dot (a period) immediately before the capital "D" of the word Default. Press enter. Click the X in the top right corner to close the Registry Editor. You can relax now - the dangerous stuff is finished.

Step 15 - Click the START button, click "Control Panel", click "Sounds, Speech and Audio Devices", click "Sounds and Audio Devices", click the "Sounds" tab. Look in the big box labeled "Program Events". Again, the first section will be the "Windows" section, and the entries below that are in alphabetical order. "Default Beep" should now be there in the list. Highlight it.
Step 16 - In the Sounds window at the bottom, it will say "None". That's the problem. When Windows sees "None" in that slot, it defaults to "ROOT\LEGACY_BEEP\0000" - which is that beep from the speaker in the computer cabinet. So you need to change it to "Windows XP Ding.wav" or any other sound you like (I happen to like the plain old "ding.wav" myself). Just click the drop-down menu for the standard Windows sounds, or click Browse to find a sound file you downloaded, made yourself, etc. Click Apply, Click OK, close all windows.
Step 17 - Try the slider in Volume Control. You should now hear the 'ding" sound or whatever sound you chose, each time you let go of the slider.

Notes on "messing up": If you really mess things up in the Registry, there are two very important things to remember. First, if you know you made an error, DON'T CLOSE REGISTRY EDITOR. Do whatever it takes to fix the error before closing it (Registry Editor auto-saves when you close it). Second, DON'T CLOSE WINDOWS ie. DON'T SHUT DOWN THE COMPUTER if you know the Registry is messed up - there's a good chance it won't start again. Do whatever it takes to fix it (which is slowly and carefully undo any changes you made), or import the copy you saved earlier, before shutting down Windows. You really should be on the phone with a PC guy as soon as you know the Registry is messed up. But just be careful and follow the steps above and you shouldn't have any problems.

- Charlie Chisholm 12/2007, updated 6/2011