A Question About Annoying Realtek Popups

The question device driver has popped up a question from the system tray of life:

[quote]I have a laptop with vista. Poor me! But my present problem is this:

Every time I plug in headphones, a balloon comes up telling me that I have done so, and when I take them out, it tells me I have done that too. It is driving me crazy. How can I stop it from doing this?[/quote]

Now this is an interesting one. It requires some interpretation, but because I have a Realtek soundcard, I’m hoping that the problem may be the same as one I’ve had before. I’m guessing that your problem is related to the Realtek soundcard driver.

Before we get started with an answer, please permit me to digress on one of my favourite topics: semiotics. As a software developer who occasionally develops user interfaces, semiotics is very important to me. One needs to be able to convey meaning through use of common representations, such as buttons, checkboxes, and icons. If, for example, I was to present you with an icon showing a manila folder (in the context of a computer user interface), you’d be most likely to associate that icon with a file folder on the computer’s hard drive. This is the wondrous world of semiotics: I didn’t tell you to think about a file folder, the idea just popped into your mind like magic!

However, just like Spiderman’s sticky superpowers, the great power of semiotics comes with great responsibility. You wouldn’t, for example, associate that manila folder icon I just mentioned with a command to change the settings for the popup that you get when you plug headphones into a port on your computer. Would you?

Unfortunately, this is exactly what Realtek would like us to understand, semiotically. In the image below, the little folder icon I have highlighted has nothing nearby to convey meaning: no words, no indications. There is no other way to understand what that icon does without clicking on it experimentally. Semiotics be damned! This is the brilliant new paradigm for user interfaces: just click the shit out of everything you see and pray that something works!


Now I’m hoping that your problem is solved. If you right-click the little Realtek speaker icon in your system tray, you’ll get the screen I have shown (or one largely similar, depending on the version of the driver you have). Click the amazing folder of mystery, and you should be able to disable the popups. If you have a different piece of driver software, you might need to go hunting for a similar setting. I guarantee it’s the software doing the poppings-up, not Vista.

Happy hunting! Remember kids: if in doubt, just click something. It’s never failed me bef


  1. Genuine, happy, hearty LOL at the end there. Your writing is getting better and better. Go you!

  2. Argh. I have the same problem but must have a different software version. Post has been very helpful though. Will continue searching!

  3. this shit works!!! i had the same version of realtek drivers. works fine with me!! a give a hell of a credit for this ben!!! thanks a lot man!! i get rid the popups permanently

  4. I have a slightly different interface version, but the general location is the same; clicked the little bugger and it worked!


  5. thanks so much for this post!! My ASUS HD Realtek looked different, but after clicking on everything possible i found the box to uncheck. THANK YOU!

  6. This is a hilarious but useful post. The new version of Sound Manager has replaced the folder icon with a tiny wrench icon, but this setting is still not part of the main “Settings” dialog one accesses from a familiar gear icon.

    They’re working on the semiotics angle, at least, but haven’t yet ironed out all the kinks with their use cases, I guess.

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