Fix: Toughbook has no sound / won't unmute

Posted by Ed Lasher and Matt Wertz on 31st Mar 2016

This tutorial is for most Panasonic Toughbook laptops running Windows 7.
Difficulty: pretty easy
Time: about 10 – 15 minutes

If you didn't buy your used Toughbook from us, there's a good chance you've had some issues with your audio, or lack thereof. What you might not realize is that the problem is likely due to missing hotkey drivers. Often you will lose audio after muting your Toughbook using a key command. Even after unmuting it, and even though the icon indicates that sound should be coming out of the speakers, you're still met with silence. Luckily, we can show you how to fix it.

Step 1: Diagnosis

Before we get down to business, let's make sure that this is, in fact, a hotkey driver issue we're dealing with. Try adjusting your screen brightness using the hotkeys. If your drivers are correct, a graphic of a sun shape and a yellow slider should appear in the middle of your screen. If your screen brightness adjusts, but no graphic appears, you are probably missing some drivers. Though it may seem unrelated, just bear with me. It will make sense in due time.

Step 2: Installing the hotkey driver

Now let's see if you already have the drivers you need waiting to be installed. In Windows Explorer, navigate to the directory C:\util2\hkeyapp.

Were you able to find it?


Good. The most likely scenario here is that the driver has been extracted onto your computer but was never actually installed. Locate a file called setup.exe inside the hkeyapp folder. Run setup.exe, restart your computer and proceed to the next step.


Not a problem. We were expecting this. Now we just need to find the necessary drivers on Panasonic's website.

  1. Go to Panasonic's support search page.
  2. Click "Individual Drivers" then select - Keyboard, Mouse and Peripherals from the "Search For" dropdown. Select your Toughbook's model number and version from the corresponding dropdown menus. If Windows 7 is not an option under the operating system dropdown, select Windows Vista. Click SEARCH.
  3. Locate in the results two items: Hotkey Driver and Hotkey Appendix Utility (if the Hotkey Driver and Hotkey Appendix Utility are not listed, look instead for System Interface Device Drivers and System Interface Manager). Download them both. It should extract them to C:\util2 by default.
  4. Navigate to C:\util2 and open the folder entitled hkeyapp (or sysifman). Locate and run a file called setup.exe. (If it asks you, run it with the recommended settings.) Restart your computer.

Step 3: Installing the correct video driver

After you restart your Toughbook, your sound and audio controls should start working normally. If you try to adjust the screen brightness using your hotkeys, however, you'll probably find that your display stubbornly returns to its original settings after a brief moment. This is happening because your video driver is not compatible with your newly-installed hotkey controls. Now that we have the proper hotkey driver up and running, we'll need the proper video driver to go with it. If you had to download drivers for step 2, this might feel familiar:

  1. Go to the search page on Panasonic's support site.
  2. Click "Individual Drivers" then select - Audio and Graphics from the "Search For" dropdown menu. Select your Toughbook's model number, model version and operating system (like before, select Windows Vista if Windows 7 is not an available option). Click SEARCH.
  3. Select Video Driver from the search results and download it. By default, it should extract to C:\util2\Drivers\Video.
  4. In Windows Explorer, navigate to C:\util2\Drivers\Video and double-click setup.exe. A prompt will come up telling you that your current driver is newer. It'll ask you if you are sure you want to run the setup. Yes, you are sure.
  5. Finish the setup and restart your Toughbook. It may take a bit longer than usual for Windows to boot up, but that's a one-time thing.

Check your hotkeys. Everything should be hunky-dory now.

Still having issues? Please fill out our Tech Support Form and we'll do our best to help you out.

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