How to fix a sound that doesn’t work on a Mac

Mac audio and playback problems are fairly common. You may encounter audio errors after updating your operating system, installing a new audio device, or even switching between applications. Fortunately, there are simple solutions to most of these problems, such as pressing and releasing the mute button or adjusting the sound settings. Here are some quick fixes for situations where audio doesn’t work on a Mac.

Check the volume and hardware

First, make sure you haven’t just muted your system. It may sound pedantic, but you can save yourself hours of audio troubleshooting by recognizing it early. Press the Mute / Unmute button and increase the volume before retesting the sound. If you’ve connected headphones or external speakers, this is also a good time to check to see if they have exploded.

Check individual applications

One of the fastest ways to check for audio problems is to make sure there is no problem with an individual application. For example, make sure your browser tab isn’t muted. This can be true in Safari, Chrome, Edge, Firefox, etc. Checking for voice control in these apps is a good place to start to make sure that none of the audio issues are likely related to your hardware. When audio is played on individual tabs, browsers often have indicators next to the tab’s website name that can be turned off or back on. Check that they aren’t muted, or if you’re playing a YouTube clip, make sure the clip isn’t muted either.

Select the correct audio device

If you don’t hear anything after plugging in your headphones or connecting your computer to an external audio device, you’ve probably found one of the most common audio errors on your Mac. Although the exact cause is unclear, sometimes your Mac selects the wrong output audio device when you install or connect a new one.

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1. Go to the Apple menu and choose “System Preferences -> Sound -> Output”.

2. Select the appropriate audio output device.

3. If the device whose audio you want to play is already selected, select another audio device. Selecting the desired item may solve the problem. If not, you can try disconnecting and plugging in your audio device. Be sure to deselect the mute option and adjust the output sound.

Reset the base tone

If audio problems persist, there may be a problem with your Mac’s audio interfaces, which can lead to a variety of errors, including missing or distorted audio. Resetting Core Audio, the low-level Mac audio API, often fixes these issues.

1. Click the Spotlight search icon and locate the terminal.

2. Start the terminal and enter:

in the input window and press Enter. Enter your password when prompted.

3. Once the API is reset, test your voice and make sure it is working properly.

Alternatively, you can also remove the Coreaudiod process from the Activity Monitor. Go to “Applications -> Utilities -> Activity Monitor” and you will see a list of all running processes with “% CPU” next to them. Find the search bar in the upper right corner and type “coreaudiod” and click on it with your mouse or trackpad. As soon as it’s highlighted, click the “X” icon in the upper-left corner of the Activity Monitor window and it will automatically restart the Mac Core Audio process.

Restart your computer

Sometimes the solution to a sound problem is as easy as shutting down and restarting your computer. If you don’t hear sound or the sound quality is poor, you may want to shut down your Mac completely. Restarting your computer is a good way to solve various sound problems, such as the sound of internal speakers stuttering or cracking.

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Non-volatile random access memory (NVRAM) or configuration memory (PRAM) is a special memory that your Mac uses to store the information it needs before loading the operating system. This information includes audio and display settings, time zone settings, the current boot disk, and information about recent fatal system errors. NVRAM / PRAM problems are rare, but can cause a number of strange Mac behaviors. Resetting or resetting NVRAM may solve your audio problem.

1. Shut down the Mac.

2. Press the power button until your Mac starts up.

3. Press and hold Order + Option + P + R until the computer restarts.

4. If you select this option, remember that zapping the NVRAM / PRAM returns the boot disk, time zone, and audio settings to their default settings.


Mac audio problems usually have quick and easy fixes, and are rarely associated with serious hardware problems. However, if you need to turn on your Mac multiple times or reset the Core Audio API repeatedly for audio to work, it’s probably best to contact Apple for more help.

If you also see a battery service warning on your Mac, here’s how to fix it. Also learn how to customize audio settings on your Mac.

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