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Why is the Sound on my Mac not Working

How to Get Sound Back on Your Mac [Updated 2020]

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When the sound is not working on your Mac it can be very frustrating. You could be trying to listen to your favorite song or it's just about time for a Zoom meeting but you can’t hear anyone. 

It’s time to figure out how to fix your MacBook with no sound so that it is loud and happy again.

What will be covered in this article?

  1. How to turn the sound on and play something from your Mac

  2. How to troubleshoot when the sound on your Mac is not working

  3. How to disconnect from a Bluetooth Speaker or Headphones

  4. How to check System Preferences to see what you’re outputting sound to

  5. What if none of these steps worked and you have tried everything?

  6. How to get the most out of your Mac’s sound

How to turn the sound on and play something from your Mac

Here we will be looking at how to get sound back on our Mac and how to open a music player which allows us to get some tunes going!

1. First, let’s make sure that we have the sound on our Mac turned on and not muted.

To make sure we have the sound on, look for either the F11 or F12 keys, and turn the sound up by pressing them. They should also have speaker icons located on them to make it easier for you to identify them.

If you’re on a touch bar Mac, it will be on the right-hand corner of the touch bar and they will also have the speaker icons. The difference is that with the touch bar you will tap the icon and then use the slider to adjust the volume.

Mac volume controls

2. Now that we have the sound turned up on our Mac we need to play something!

We can do this in a couple of ways. The first would be to open either the “Music” or “Spotify” app if you use either of them to listen to your favorite tunes. I use Spotify so we will be looking at it doing it that way but with the Music app, the steps will be very similar.

Play music on your Mac

3. Simply find the app on your Mac Dock and launch it.

Once you have done so, find a song and make sure that you press “play” on the track. If you have an internet connection or the song is saved to your Mac then there should be some sound coming from your speakers!

4. If this didn’t work, look for another application that you use that you know produces sound and see if that works for you as the volume is turned up now.

Lastly, going to YouTube and watching a video there is another good way to get some sound going.

5. If there is no audio still at this point, try restarting your Mac and doing the above process again from the first step.

A simple restart can fix many issues that you may experience with your Mac. You can get a step-by-step walkthrough on how to restart your Mac by visiting Apple’s website here.

How to troubleshoot when the sound on your Mac is not working

If the above steps did not work then the next step is to troubleshoot to fix the sound issue on our Mac:

1. Check your headphone jack for debris as that could be why your Mac sound is not working.

Things such as dust and lint get in there more than you may think. You can use your cell phone flashlight to shine a light into the headphone jack and look for debris this way.

Compressed air is a good method to get the debris out or you could take it into your local Apple store if that isn’t working for you as they can remove it.

Refrain from putting anything into the port as it could damage it causing a more serious issue that might need repair.

2. Unplug headphones if you’re using them as they might be the issue.

Sometimes headphones can have a short in the cable or maybe one of the speakers in them is starting to go bad. After unplugging them, make sure that the volume is still up on your Mac and try playing a song.

Pro Tip: your Mac has a volume profile for its speakers and your headphones. This is so that if your Mac is at 100% volume and then you plug in headphones your Mac will set the volume of your headphones to what it was the last time you used them. This will protect your hearing.

3. Unplug everything from the side of your Mac.

Such as display and HDMI cables, as your audio may be going to a projector or TV. This could be the fix for how to get sound back on your Mac.

4. Reset the SMC on your Mac.

This is a handy trick that Apple taught me when I used to work in an Apple store. You can view how to do this by clicking here which will bring you to an article on Apple’s website with a step-by-step walkthrough.

I would recommend saving any important work and then take a look through the article to find out how you should proceed based on the Mac that you have.

Don’t worry, the steps are easy to follow and it should solve the issue.

5. Check and see if your Mac is running the most current version of macOS.

There may be a fix in a newer version that could fix issues with sound not working on Mac. 

This can be done in 3 steps:

1. 1st step go to “System Preferences".

Mac system settings

2. 2nd step click on “Software Update” from within “System Preferences.System update3. If you have an update available it will appear here and you will have the option to update your Mac. Mine is currently up-to-date so I am not presented with that option.

How to disconnect from a Bluetooth speaker or headphones

If your Mac is connected to a Bluetooth speaker or Bluetooth headphones, try turning Bluetooth off.

You might be surprised that some Bluetooth speakers can stay in a low power mode and be connected even though you may not realize it. You could also be connected to a Google Home, Alexa device, or an Apple HomePod.

This can be done in 3 easy steps:

1. Go to "System Preferences".

2. Select the “Bluetooth” option from with “System Preferences”Mac Bluetooth settings

​​​​​​3. Once in the Bluetooth menu see if under “Devices” if there is anything connected as this could be what is causing why the sound is not working on your Mac.
 
Take note of this so that if it is not working in the future you know what device is causing the issue. From here we can right-click on a device if it is connected and choose “disconnect”  or you can simply choose “Turn Bluetooth Off” and disconnect every device.

Mac Bluetooth settings

4. After completing these steps try playing a song or video.

How to check System Preferences to see what you’re outputting sound to

Taking a look into the “Sound” option within “System Preferences” can show us what we’re currently using for sound output. This can be done in 3 easy to follow steps:

1. Launch “System Preferences”.

2. Go to and select the “Sound” option.

3. Once we click on the speaker looking “Sound” icon we want to make sure we have “Output” highlighted as I have here.

You can see the devices that my Mac has options to send sound to. Right now, I have sound going through my MacBook Pro’s speakers.

If yours is different, double click on your Mac’s speaker option to make that one active. If you don’t have speakers built into your Mac plug in headphones or a speaker and then click them as the output option.

Sound output settings

What if none of these steps worked and you have tried everything?

If you have tried the above steps and nothing has worked for you then it may be time to chat with Apple support about making an appointment to take your Mac into an Apple store for some service.

While this is the last thing that anyone wants to have to do, it could be signs of a bigger hardware or software issue. Apple takes good care of there customers and they should be able to provide you with a fix that will have you up and running in no time.

You can visit Apple support by clicking here.

How to get the most out of your Mac’s sound

If talking about audio has made you wonder how you can get the most out of your Mac’s audio then I don’t blame you! Below are a couple of apps that can do just that because who doesn’t want to listen to the best sound possible. 

Here are my top 3 recommendations and they all come with free trials:

  • Boom 3D as the name suggests allows you to experience 3D audio like ever before. One of my personal favorites that I have enjoyed using. There is a free trial for this app and I would recommend that you check it out!

  • SoundSource allows you to change things such as outputs if you have more than one and you can change sound effects. My favorite feature that it has is that it allows you to individually see the volume level for each app that you have on your Mac. Not only will this help you in day to day life but if an app is making the sound that you don’t want you can easily figure out which app is causing the ruckus.

  • Sound Control is a menu bar app that stays out of the way which I love and it allows you to use it as a software volume mixer. It has features such as a master volume for your Mac and then shows each source such as websites and other apps that are creating audio and each one can be adjusted with a simple drag on a slider.

 

Written by Joel Lockard

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