Hello. There are about 4 different models that Dell has sold under the generic name of Inspiron 15R so if you need more help please include the full model name of the laptop and the name of your operating system.
All of the current Dell laptops have built in mics. To set it up, right click on the audio icon on the taskbar (or if you have Windows 8 you might have to first get to the desktop, I'm not sure), then click on "Recording devices". The Sound properties will open on the Recording tab. Find the internal mic in the list and right click on it, then click on "enable", then on "set as default device".
Optionally, while the internal mic is still selected (highlighted), click on "Properties", then on the Levels tab. That is where you set the volume level for the mic.
As for recording software, there is most probably only Windows Sound Recorder which is pretty bare bones. You can use it to test the mic. To open it, type Sound recorder into the search box.
For serious recording and editing you should buy a graphical audio recording program, or get the free program Audacity. Just google Audacity.
Regarding the external jack: if there is only one jack on the case of the laptop then you have one of the models with a "combo" jack. That kind of jack will not support a regular computer mic. Combo jacks work with smart phone type of headsets, that combine a mic and a headphones into a single plug. You can tell if you have that kind of headset because the plug has 4 segments instead of the normal 3 segments on a stereo plug.
The combo jacks do support normal headphones.
The combo jacks do not support stereo line-in.
You can get an adapter to make a combo jack accept a normal computer mic, but an adapter cannot make a combo jack support stereo line-in. For stereo line-in you would need a usb audio adapter that has a line-in jack -- that is if your computer only has a combo jack.
Jim Coates -- 16 years on the Dell Laptop Audio boards -- since 2/6/04
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