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macbook crackling soundI’ve been dealing with Macbook’s crackling sound problem (or little devil as I like to call it) ever since I upgraded from a Mac Mini to a BlackBook. On a quiet day, I noticed some odd crackling noise coming from my brand new MacBook. At first, I thought it had something to do with the hard drive. Crap, I said to myself.

After a bit of crawling on forums, I drilled to the core of the issue. The problem seem to have stemmed from the laptop’s sound system. Apple implemented a power-saving feature which turns the audio subsystem off after about 20 seconds of inactivity. So, the issue (or syndrome, as I like to put it) was aptly dubbed “Snap-Crackle-Pop” because that’s the sound that it would make when the audio system turns on and off.

These crackle sounds are most obvious when connected to external audio systems or headphones. The syndrome mostly affects portable Macs but there were several incidences involving iMacs. Here’s how to cure it: download Antipop.

In a nutshell, Antipop is a launch agent which uses the Mac OS X “say” terminal command to speak a ‘space’ every 10 seconds. Because the sound is a ‘space’, technically there is no audible sound but the system is forced to play it anyway – blocking the audio system from going to sleep (power-saving mode).

The before and after difference isn’t very noticeable initially but after a while I realised that I’m not hearing those irritating crackles anymore. There’s still a very silent pop once in a while. Perhaps that’s a separate issue.

Antipop doesn’t use very much processing power. In fact, on my 2.4GHz Intel MacBook, it uses close to none. It eliminates the crackles when my MacBook is connected to the power source but when it’s running on battery – the crackles resurface. Antipop was written to run only when connected to AC power. If you wish to change this, type “echo -n “0” > /usr/local/share/antipop/ac_only” in Terminal.


macbook crackling noise

If it doesn’t work for you, uninstalling it is easy. Run the uninstallation script that is found in the Antipop DMG image. After your system reboots, Antipop will be removed. Antipop was tested only with Leopard but it should also work on Tiger.

These are just a few of the quirks Apple gives us which we, as Mac users, have to deal with ourselves. It weird but that’s how it goes.

Does your Macbook make any crackling sounds? Let us know in the comments if Antipop solved your “Snap-Crackle-Pop” syndrome.

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