Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Unexpected sounds coming from your computer can be startling and disturbing. In many cases, however, there's a simple explanation.

I get the noise of a door being slammed on my computer from time to time. Why?

My psychic abilities tell me: you're running AIM - AOL Instant Messenger.

OK, it wasn't my psychic abilities, but it was a hunch, a comment by my assistant that she'd experienced this also, a question ("you running an IM program, and if so which one?") and a test.

I do get people reporting periodic unexpected sounds from their computer and I'm fairly convinced they've simply forgotten that's what their IM programs do.

I'll show you the setting in AIM.

"Experiencing random sounds? Check your IM program's configuration."

When my assistant mentioned the same issue, my hunch was that there was an IM program involved. When she mentioned that she ran only AIM, I downloaded and installed it.

In AIM, click on the Menu menu:

AOL menu menu

Click on Settings, then on the left menu click on Sounds:

AIM Sounds Options

Scroll down within the sounds options until you find "Buddy List Sounds":

AIM Buddy List Sounds

Note that one of the options for "When buddies Sign Out" is "doorslam.wav".

I'm guessing that's what you have set. Those door slams aren't "random" at all ... they're happening each time one of your AIM buddies who was online goes offline.

Experiencing random sounds? Check your IM program's configuration. Check all the sound related settings you can find. My guess is you'll find some kind of sound customization that will explain the noise.

Whether you then want to keep it, of course, is up to you.

Article C4363 - July 8, 2010 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

July 9, 2010 2:10 AM

I have a similar issue with a 'random' sound.
I think it's the standard Windows sound for a USB device being disconnected, or possibly the sound for a program terminating.
Trouble is, I'm not disconnecting or terminating anything.
The only idea I have, is my wireless connection dropping out temporarily - but I don't get a connecting sound (unless it's the same one).

Ken B
July 9, 2010 10:56 AM


Go to the "sounds" control panel, and scroll through all of the available sounds. Click the "test" or "play" button on every one of them, making note of which ones are the sound that you hear. (There may be more than one event wit the same sound.) That way, you can narrow down the possible causes of the sound you hear. If necessary, change all of the ones that make that sound to different sounds, so that none are the same. Then, if the "random" sound changes, you know exactly what triggered it.

Of course, it's also possible that it's from a program that doesn't allow you to use the control panel to adjust the sounds.

Mike Castro`
July 13, 2010 9:48 AM

Absolutely dead on Leo. Just a word of warning though, you must scroll down as there are several hiding below the bottom of the window and its not totall obvious.

July 14, 2010 3:27 AM

I followed Ken B's advice, and my (PC) world got a great deal noisier :/
It turns out the sound I was hearing was the 'normal program termination' sound, but after assigning a sound for almost everything, I discovered a few others - including 'program start' and 'network connection' sounds.

It seems there is a lot more going on in the background than I had been led to believe... so unless I discover something actually going wrong, I'm taking sounds off all of the standard operations, and just leaving the alerts.

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