You're up late jamming to tunes, maybe a bit too loud, but you're not bothering anyone. You shut down and go to bed. In the morning, you boot up, and an acoustic battering ram knocks the ears clean off your splitting skull. Sound familiar? You need Auto Mute, a small bit of freeware that automatically mutes your PC's sound during startup, wake-up, logoff, sleep, or shutdown, ensuring that the your next bootup will be silent, even if you left your amp on with the knobs turned to 11.
Auto Mute first opens with a startup guide, but it's really not needed since the program's simple interface is more of a settings sheet that explains each option. A row of check boxes selects whether to run the program at startup and display a system tray icon (with menu) as well as when to mute the sound, including when the screensaver activates. We could type in any hotkey combo to change the default shortcut for toggling audio on and off and enable a beep when Auto Mute restores system sound, small but immensely helpful features for forgetful (we mean "highly focused") types. That's about all there is to Auto Mute's interface, except for Web and social media links. To test whether Auto Mute is working in your system, simply enable the Windows startup sound and reboot. We did, and entered our password in total silence. Pressing the hotkey combo restored audio when we were ready. The only improvement we can think of is an option to turn the sound back on automatically after a customizable time interval. Using the hotkeys is no trouble, though.
You can disable system sounds in Windows, those annoying bleeps and swoops and dings that chirp when you do something extraordinary, such as right-clicking your mouse. But you still want to be able to hear music and videos. That means some unexpected audio's going to get through and wake you up in new and unpleasant ways; others, too, if it's really your day. Maybe the baby, if it's your last day. Don't let that happen! You might forget to mute the sound or turn the volume down, but Auto Mute won't.