Server and Channel Basics
The far left column of icons shows which Discord servers you’ve joined. The Discord icon itself at the top lets you access all your the direct messages. Click any of these to switch to it.
Every server will have its own list of text and voice/video channels. You can scroll through these channels as well, and click them to read or write messages or to join a conversation.
Voice chat channels are “sticky” in Discord. If you’re in a text channel, you have to click a voice channel twice to fully enter it. Clicking it once connects you to the conversation, but only in the background — you’ll hear everyone and you can speak, but you’ll only see one video panel off to the side while you remain browsing your current text.
Likewise, once you’re connected to a chat, you need to manually disconnect (or go to another chat channel) to fully leave it.
Cameras Are Merely a Suggestion
You don’t need a camera to join a voice chat channel, and if you do have one, you don’t have to use it. You can turn your camera off and on by clicking its icon. (The microphone and headphone icons work likewise.)
Changing Your View
There are three different ways to arrange people’s chat windows.
Click the small panel-looking icon in the top right to switch between grid view and focus view. Grid view spaces everyone equally. Focus view enlarges whoever is currently talking.
You can also click directly on one person’s panel to lock your focus on them and keep them big.
At the bottom left of the main Discord window you’ll find your username and icon as well as the Mute, Deafen and User Settings buttons. Mute and Deafen let you temporarily turn off your microphone and speakers. These icons also indicate if these devices are unavailable for some reason.
User Settings leads into this next part...
Making Your Microphone Behave
Discord gives you two ways to control your microphone. You can set your mic to switch on and off automatically whenever it hears enough sound (“Voice Activity”) or manually, so it’s only live while you hold down a particular key (“Push to Talk”). We strongly recommend Push to Talk if you don’t have headphones, there is noise nearby or you need to type frequently during the panel.
Click the User Settings gear button, then click “Voice & Video” in the list that appears. Scroll down the right-hand list until you find the Voice Activity and Push to Talk options.
Both activation schemes have a couple of secondary settings.
If you’re using Push to Talk, you will also need to set which key activates your mic. Click the keyboard icon (which will change to a “Record Keybind” button), push the key you want to use, then click the keyboard icon again.
NOTE: The spacebar is the easiest key to use for Push to Talk, but if you need to do a lot of typing, a different key that’s more out of the way, like your Numpad “+” key, is better.
ALSO NOTE: If you are using Discord through a browser, Push to Talk only works while the Discord web page has your computer’s attention. You won’t be able to talk while looking at another tab or window.
If you’re using Voice Activation, you can (and should!) adjust the Input Sensitivity to fine-tune how much sound it takes to trigger your mic. If there’s an option for Automatic Sensitivity, try that first. If it’s not offered or doesn’t work well, you’ll need to adjust the slider manually. If sensitivity is too far to the right, your mic won’t pick up all your words. If it’s too far left, you will broadcast every little cough and seat-shuffle. Regardless of your settings, you’ll need to speak clearly. Sudden starts and trailed-off endings are tough for Voice Activation to follow.
Discord puts a green border around your chat panel when you’re sending sound to the channel. If you never see that border, it could be due to any of these causes:
- You’ve muted your microphone.
- Discord is in Voice Activated mode but its sensitivity is too low.
- Discord is in Push to Talk mode but you aren’t holding down a key, or you’re holding the wrong one. Or you’re using Discord in a browser while looking at another tab or window.
- You don’t have permission to talk in that channel.
- Your computer has more than one microphone, and Discord or your computer are confused about which one is in use.
- Your web browser isn’t giving the Discord web page permission to use your mic.
- Your computer isn’t giving your web browser or the Discord app permission to use your mic.
The best thing to try here is clicking the icon for the non-functioning device. Either it’ll turn back on (if you accidentally shut it off) or Discord may give you a message with more info on the problem.
If you do see a green border on your user window but no one can hear you, Discord is probably configured to use the wrong microphone or has its Input Volume too low. Both of these settings are also on the Voice & Video panel, at the top.