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No sound? Glitches and noise? Audio coming out of the wrong speakers? Resolving your OS X audio problems can be a time consuming process. It could be a matter of changing a simple setting or it could end up consuming most of your afternoon.

Fortunately we’ve come up with a list of everything we can think of that you can do to resolve any sound problems your Mac may encounter. Let’s begin.

First: Volume & Headphones

Before you spend all day resolving a non-existent issue, check that you have one at all. Adjust your volume (make sure it’s not muted) and check your device’s audio out port doesn’t have any earphones or other external devices plugged in.

You can’t play music from your internal speakers while another output device is connected in this port.

Check Your Sound Settings

Head to System Preferences > Sound > Output (you can search for it using Spotlight too) and check your sound settings for discrepancies. If you’re using a laptop, you’ll probably want to choose “Internal Speakers” (or “Headphones” if you’re using them). You may also see “Digital Output” if you’re not on a laptop. Make sure the desired output is selected.

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Note: You can also quickly change audio input and output devices by holding the option key and clicking the speaker icon in the menu bar at the top of the screen.

Some users have reported their issues being resolved simply by switching from one output to another. You can also try plugging in headphones (or another 3.5mm jack) and pulling them out again.

Reset Core Audio & Restart

Core Audio is Apple’s low-level API for dealing with sound on the Mac. Sometimes things go wrong, and this results in no audio, and sometimes even distorted, tinny or noisy sound too. Before you restart your computer, try restarting the Core Audio process.

Open a Terminal window and input: sudo killall coreaudiod

Hit return, input your administrator password and check whether your sound issue is resolved.

Note: You can also open Activity Monitor and search for the coreaudiod process and manually kill it Activity Monitor: The Mac Equivalent of Ctrl+Alt+Delete Activity Monitor: The Mac Equivalent of Ctrl+Alt+Delete If you want to be a fairly proficient Mac user, it is necessary to know what Activity Monitor is, and how to read and use it. As usual, that's where we come in. Read More .

If your issue still isn’t resolved at this stage, you should try a full restart.

Reset PRAM & SMC

There are many reasons you might want to reset your Mac’s parameter RAM (PRAM) and system management controller (SMC) How To Reset Your Mac's SMC & PRAM – And Why How To Reset Your Mac's SMC & PRAM – And Why Sometimes your Mac will act strange for no apparent reason, and if a restart doesn't work, sometimes you'll need to reset the SMC and PRAM. Read More , and they all involve your computer doing weird things. PRAM in particular remembers certain settings related to volume and sound, so resetting that may help smooth things out.

To reset your PRAM:

  1. Shut down the computer.
  2. Press the power button.
  3. Before the grey screen appears, press the Command, Option, P, and R keys at the same time.
  4. Hold the keys until your computer restarts and you hear the startup sound a second time.
  5. Release the keys.

You may notice that your computer is a little slower to start up, and that certain settings have been reset (the time, volume, keyboard preferences and so on). You might also find that your sound issues have been resolved.

Realistically, resetting the SMC is unlikely to affect your sound issue but at this stage we’re guessing you’ll try the lot. The instructions for this are similarly simple, but slightly different depending on the computer you have — so check out our full article for instructions relevant to you How To Reset Your Mac's SMC & PRAM – And Why How To Reset Your Mac's SMC & PRAM – And Why Sometimes your Mac will act strange for no apparent reason, and if a restart doesn't work, sometimes you'll need to reset the SMC and PRAM. Read More .

Problems with External Devices

Sometimes when you connect an external device (like an HDMI TV) the sound will continue to come out of your internal speakers. To resolve this, connect the device and head back to the System Preferences > Sound menu and make sure your HDMI (or other connected device) output is selected on the Output tab.

You can also choose to output AirPlay audio to nearby devices via this interface, which is particularly handy for sharing audio separately to video.

Third Party Software Problems

You may run into an issue where your sound works in all but one app, in which case you’ll probably have to define your desired output device in that app’s settings. This is most often an issue associated with audio and video editors, like Audacity and Adobe Audition.

Instructions for each app will differ, but you’ll want to ensure you choose the same output device that appears in your Mac’s System Preferences > Sound > Output option panel. Some software may require you to create an aggregate device, which allows you to use multiple audio interfaces at the same time.

Update Your Old OS

Mavericks had a lot of sound problems, many of which cleared up with the release of Yosemite. Distorted, crackling audio and random periods of complete silence were not uncommon (killing Core Audio usually resolved it). You should update to OS X Yosemite if you’re still having Mavericks-era sound problems, particularly as 10.11 El Capitan is just around the corner What's New In OS X 10.11 "El Capitan"? (And How to Try it Yourself) What's New In OS X 10.11 "El Capitan"? (And How to Try it Yourself) While the changes don't seem that big on the surface, there's a lot going on under the hood that could make this incremental upgrade one of the most significant to date. Read More .

yosemite_installer

Before you upgrade your OS make sure you’ve backed everything up, then head to the App Store and on the Updates tab you’ll see an option to upgrade to the latest version. The download may take some time, and once finished installation is straightforward.

You can even save the installer to make it easier to update other computers in your household How To Install macOS & Save The Installer How To Install macOS & Save The Installer It's really easy to save the macOS installer to avoid multiple downloads, and worth doing even if you only have the one Mac. Read More without having to download it again.

Microphone and Input Devices

Just like output devices, input devices like audio interfaces and microphones can also be mis-configured. Head to the System Preferences > Sound > Output menu to define your output device. This particularly handy if you have connected a microphone and want to make sure you’re not using your computer’s internal one instead.

USB microphones and interfaces will appear here, alongside microphones connected via your audio port.

Can’t See “Internal Speakers” or Other Outputs?

This is a rare but fairly well-documented problem as asked on message boards and in blog comments with little in the way of a fix. It seems most common after performing an operating system upgrade, in particular the leap from 10.09 (Mavericks) to 10.10 (Yosemite).

First try installing any updates available to you. If you still encounter no devices in your Mac’s Sound preferences, you should probably back everything up with Time Machine Schedule & Browse Time Machine Backups With These Powerful Tools Schedule & Browse Time Machine Backups With These Powerful Tools From custom backup times to finding out where those 2 GB of new files are, the right apps can give you power and knowledge Apple's own tools just don't provide. Read More and reinstall Mac OS X How To Reinstall Mac OS X For A Fast, Squeaky-Clean Mac How To Reinstall Mac OS X For A Fast, Squeaky-Clean Mac Just like Windows, prolonged use of a Mac slows down the operating system. When you've been hoarding data and applications for over a year, the difference in performance starts to show. It just doesn't run... Read More , then restore from the backup you made How to Restore Data From Time Machine Backups How to Restore Data From Time Machine Backups It's really easy to set up Time Machine, the backup software that comes with every Mac — but how do you get your files back when things go wrong? Read More .

Did any of these steps help resolve your sound problems? Let us know!

  1. Mike Powis
    November 27, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    I've started to experience sound problems using external speakers with my mac mini since updating to OSX Sierra.

    Despite the mac still recognising the external speakers, no sound it audible.

    I have used the "sudo killall coreaudiod" and it didnt work first time but when i tried it again it worked for some reason. However, a few days later the issue recurred. I turned my mac on and it wasnt playying any audio through the speakers.

    This has happened to me a few times now and I'm looking for something a little more robust to stop the need to manually kill coreaudio & restart the mac whenever it messes up.

    Any help or advice is greatly appreciated, it's getting very frustrating now.

  2. Mike Powis
    November 27, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    I've started to experience sound problems using external speakers with my mac mini since updating to OSX Sierra.

    Ill turn my mac on and despite it still recognising the external speakers, no sound is audible.

    I have used the "sudo killall coreaudiod" and it didn't work first time but when I tried it again it worked for some reason. However, a few days later the issue recurred - I turned my mac on and it wasn't playing any audio through the speakers.

    This has happened to me a few times now and I'm looking for something a little more robust to stop the need to manually kill coreaudio & restart the mac whenever it messes up.

    Any help or advice is greatly appreciated, it's getting very frustrating now.

    • Tim Brookes
      November 29, 2016 at 12:17 am

      Have you checked that the external speakers are selected under System Preferences > Sound > Output? And that it isn't muted?

      Test your speakers with other devices too. Try headphones with your Mac mini and see if you get the same problem. Maybe try searching for the problem in relation to your specific hardware?

      A last ditch attempt to fix the issue would be to back up with Time Machine and reinstall macOS (you can hold down R during startup to launch Recovery Mode and then delete your partition using Disk Utility, and reinstall macOS from there).

      Assuming you've tried all of the above I'm not really sure what else could help. Keep us posted!

  3. roskruge
    October 28, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    First of I am using a Mac Pro (2013) with macOS Sierra 10.12.1 with a OWC Thunderbolt 2 (Dock). The Mac Pro have (2) 3.5mm audio plugs - left output - right input - I have the same audio connections on OWC's Dock. Problem is no matter what microphone I use, unable to get sound into Mac Pro through different mic's. I tried to install Soundflower v1.6.6b but 'The Installation failed'.
    Now that Sierra has Siri I need to input sound. Is there an alternative to Soundflower. Or what do you suggest. No problem in copying/listening system sound to an application.
    Also no success with your LineIn,
    This problem has been with different versions of macOS over 2 years. and several reinstalls.

  4. randy
    October 7, 2016 at 1:37 am

    el capitan 10.11.1. sound preferences only showed headphones, (which i was in), line out and digital out. i switched from headphones to line out and then back to headphones and the problem (as of right now) is gone. thanks.

  5. chris
    September 22, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    Dear Tim,

    followed your advice with resetting the coreaudio process but it didn't help.

    My setup:
    - Macbook Pro 13" early 2015
    - running El Capitan
    - Apple Thunderbolt Display

    Whatever I do, the static bombs hits my audio of the display speakers after a few minutes. Really need those speakers... Any other idea or solution?

    Really appreciate your help!
    chris

    • Tim Brookes
      September 26, 2016 at 2:51 am

      Well if you've followed all of the advice in the article, I can't really think what else to do. Did you try resetting SMC and PRAM? Maybe update to macOS Sierra and see if that fixes it? You could even try a full reinstall of the OS?

      Beyond this, if your laptop is from early 2015 then it may still be under warranty depending on where you bought it. Australia and EU have two years standard warranty, but if you got AppleCare then it's covered for 3 years anyway. It might be worth taking it to Apple and getting them to have a look at it...

      Good luck

  6. Krishna
    August 24, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    Hi Tim, my use case is

    1. I want to use my Rode VideoMic which has TRS 3.5mm to record voice in either my Macbook Pro (2015) or on my iPhone 6 Plus

    2. I bought a TRS to TRRS adaptor, where-in I can connect the TRRS input (male) of the adapter to my Mac/iPhone and the connect the Mic end (female) of the adaptor to the Rode Mic TRS

    3. Ideally this should work, however in the 'Input Tab of Sound Menu' in my Mac, Built-in Internal Microphone is only used for Input. There is no other device found
    In the 'Output Tab of Sound Menu', the device shown is Headphones

    4. If I connect a Headphone with separate Input & Output plugs, I can hear music through the output but the mic on the Headphone is not detected by Mac/iPhone

    5. However when I connect Apples Headphones, both the Input & Output is from the Headphone

    Question: What should I do, in order to use my TRS Rode for audio recording onto the Mac?

    Thank you in advance

  7. Ola Jonsson
    August 17, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    THANKS!I
    Had a strange issue, my Plantronics Voyager Focus UC, Bluetooth paired headset sounded just terrible on my work MacBook Pro (Retina 13" Mid 2013), but great on my private MacBook Pro (Retina 13", Late 2012) and great on my Iphone 6.

    Now, with the simple command to kill and restart the core audio process, I have great sound on the work MacBook Pro,
    one again,
    Thanks!

    Ola
    Stockholm, Sweden

  8. Ola Jonsson
    August 17, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    Tim,
    found your post through Google, and I just wanted to say THANKS!
    I had a very strange issue where sound through my Headset

    Plantronics Voyager Focus UC, Bluetooth paired.

    sounded just terrible on my work MacBook Pro (Retina 13" Mid 2013), but great on my private MacBook Pro (Retina 13", Late 2012) and great on my Iphone 6.

    Now, with the simple command to kill and restart the core audio process, I have great sound on the work MacBook Pro,
    one again,
    Thanks!

    Ola
    Stockholm, Sweden

  9. Andy
    August 8, 2016 at 10:02 pm

    Hi Tim,

    I have an iMac, running Yosemite 10.10.5. I was given a gift of a digital turntable which came with Audacity software version 2.1.0. I installed the software, started to follow the instructions for configuring it for Mac (documentation was way out of date, the screen shots were for an earlier operating system) and, before I knew it, all my sound was gone. I've tried trying to find fixes online. None of them have worked. Settings in Sound preferences are seemingly set up correctly. I've now deleted the software from the computer and restarted the computer with no change. I've tried your suggestions up top of this article but Im a bit of a novice so am a little afraid of things like Terminal Windows. I just feel out of my depth here.

    Any suggestions. Thank you.

    Andy

    • Tim Brookes
      August 9, 2016 at 1:21 am

      Hi Andy,

      Don't be afraid of Terminal, the commands above won't cause any harm to your computer. You should try them and see if they make any difference. Did the digital turntable tell you to create an aggregate sound device by any chance? If so you can try deleting it (using the minus button) from Utilities > Audio MIDI Setup to see if that helps.

      If nothing is working, ensure that your Speakers are selected as your primary Output device and that "Mute" isn't on obviously. Use the Terminal commands (or just launch Activity Monitor) to kill the coreaudiod process. It will restart automatically. Make sure your turntable isn't connected to your Mac any more also.

      If nothing else can help, it may be time to reinstall your operating system. Back up with Time Machine and an external drive, then have a look at this guide: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/how-to-reinstall-mac-os-x-for-a-fast-squeaky-clean-mac/

      Let us know whether this helped at all!

      Tim

  10. Nerida
    August 7, 2016 at 10:32 am

    Hello Tim,
    I am a complete novice at recording. I need to have Windows on my Mac Pro for my work. I am trying to record on power point files on office 10. I need to do a recording on each slide.

    This is working but when I replay the recording there is so much background buzz. It is terrible.
    I bought myself a set of the latest BOSE headphones with a speaker and tried this this morning but the buzz is still there.

    Do you have any suggestions as to how I can make this sound more professional?
    Many thanks in anticipation.

    Nerida

    • Tim Brookes
      August 9, 2016 at 1:30 am

      Hi Nerida,

      It sounds like the microphone is the issue in this case. Do you have multiple microphones connected to your Mac? Be sure to select the right one under Windows' sound preferences (I can't remember where as it's been so long since I've used it).

      You could buy a nice microphone — we have a few suggestions here: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/starting-podcast-recording-equipment-platforms/ but anywhere around $60-$100 should yield a huge improvement over any in-built one (plus you can use it for future projects, talking on Skype etc). Whenever you do connect the microphone you should make sure you select the right one as per the instructions above.

      Some microphones to consider: Samson Meteor, Blue Snowball, Audio-Technica ATR2100. Just make sure you get a USB one, not XLR.

      Optionally you could try recording the audio on a smartphone in a quiet environment, but do keep in mind the audio quality is likely to be poor too. Once complete you can just send the file to your computer and import it into PowerPoint.

      Hope this helps,

      Tim

  11. Heather
    July 14, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    I am having troubles while using Skype on my iMac running El Capitan. I use my internal speakers and have the noise reduction clicked. While I am talking there is a large amount of feedback. I can hear my own voice echoing through my brother's speakers in England and there is a ton of high pitched squealing. I've tried everything I can think of. Help!

    • Tim Brookes
      July 15, 2016 at 5:14 am

      While it might not be idea, headphones will solve this issue. It's possible that either you or your brother have your speakers too close to the microphone (a common problem on laptops), which is causing the feedback problem. As you say you can hear your own voice, it sounds like the problem is on your brother's side.

      Either use headphones or the Skype mobile app to chat as you would normally on the phone to solve this one.

      Tim

  12. Mason
    July 9, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    Ran into a strange problem today regarding input and output channels. I'm running an old OS on my MacBook Pro (OS X, 10.6.8), which I imagine could be part of the problem.

    When running a line-in, in this case, an external mixer connected via RCA (with 1/4" adapters) to 3.5 cable into the microphone/input jack, I'll recieve distortion and no playback from equipment plugged into the mixer or sometimes no sound at all.

    Perhaps more strange, when also having headphones plugged into the headphone jack, while the input is also plugged in, the sound is booted from my headphones and played through the internal speakers?

    In the sound preferences, the "headphone" option disappears and automatically assigns itself back to the internal speakers. When I unplug the input jack and re-plug in the headphones, sound comes through the headphones as usual. I tested this through iTunes, since I am recieveing no audio via the input jack.

    The strangest of all these things is that this seems to have happened out of the blue. I have been doing this process for quite a while, specifically, recording from the mixer into Logic via the input jack and monitoring out through the headphone jack.

    Through process of elimination I can deduce that this must be an issue with my Mac/ports, the mixer, cables, and equipment all work fine when connected directly to a different source (external speakers) and I have also checked and double checked the preferences in my applications/os.

    I tried most of these steps but to no avail. Just wondering if you had any other ideas before I give it a full wipe.

  13. John S.
    June 17, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    I've been struggling with distorted audio over google hangouts. We use it to play online games. I'm the only one using a mac and the only one having this issue. I was going to try your technique of killing the "coreaudioud" but when I called up the activity monitor I couldn't find it. Is this a file that comes and goes as needed?

    • Tim Brookes
      June 22, 2016 at 5:19 am

      Hi John,

      Open Activity Monitor, select the CPU tab, and search for "core" and it should pop up with about 5 other processes. It doesn't come and go, it should always be running. Hence the system automatically restarting it when you kill it.

      Alternatively, launch Terminal and type/paste: sudo killall coreaudiod

      You'll need to follow it up with your admin password (which is your account password, if you're the main admin user).

      Let us know if we can help further!

      Tim

  14. Molly
    June 15, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    I'm having problems with stuttering/crackling/completely distorted audio- both with headphones and without. It sounds similar to the problems in Mavericks, but I'm using El Capitan, any ideas?

    • Tim Brookes
      June 17, 2016 at 5:59 am

      Hey Molly,

      Have you tried resetting Core Audio as the article states?

      El Capitan occasionally causes issues like this, though it's generally a lot better than Mavericks was. This will also depend on what your hardware is.

      To reset, open a Terminal window and input: sudo killall coreaudiod

      You'll need to type your admin password. Audio will stop for a second then the process will restart. I suggest you move on to resetting PRAM, as per the article, if this doesn't help.

      Tim

  15. Luro
    June 12, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    This is a very important article for every OS X user, thank you for this.
    My problem was no sound after unplugging headphones, sleeping iMac, then returning hours later. Although the sound bar was adjustable and not muted in preferences, no sound was to be heard, headphones in, or headphones out.

    Quitting "coreaudiod" from Activity Monitor worked fine!

    Just another thanks, Tim, you're a cool guy.

    • Tim Brookes
      June 17, 2016 at 6:00 am

      Glad this article could help you out! I'm really glad El Capitan suffers from these audio problems a lot less than Mavericks did, but it's definitely handy to know how to restart Core Audio when things start sounding weird.

  16. Joed
    June 6, 2016 at 4:04 am

    didnt work! :(

    • Tim Brookes
      June 9, 2016 at 4:21 am

      What's the problem, Joed?

  17. chris
    April 27, 2016 at 3:42 am

    thank you for this article..
    Was enjoying watching using VLC and suddenly the audio was distorted for the speaking part but the background (laughter, music) was fine.. Really weird..

    Anyway, used the terminal and reset the core.

    It didn't work at first, then removed headphones, now audio is clear then replugged earphones = working!!

    cheers !!

  18. Aaron
    April 1, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    This was hugely helpful and I had success!

    I picked up the Microsoft Designer Bluetooth (both keyboard and mouse).

    The mouse connected easily but I could never get the keyboard to connect, no matter what I tried. When doing a Google search I even tried some specific examples in the Apple support forum for this particular device. Once I tried this it worked like a charm.

    Thank you Tim, great write up!

    -Aaron

  19. Marcus Iannello
    March 13, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    Hey everyone, My macbook Air ( OS X El Capitan) is being dodgy.in Sound input and output, No devices get recognised.My macbook is also slow.My macbook says it's on mute and wont play music, please fix!!

    • Tim Brookes
      March 15, 2016 at 1:54 am

      Hey Marcus,

      There's not much I can really suggest with such a vague description. Assuming you've tried everything here, you might want to backup with Time Machine and reinstall OS X. If it's a software issue, that should fix it. It should also make things run a little faster too.

      How to backup and restore: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/how-to-reinstall-mac-os-x-for-a-fast-squeaky-clean-mac/

      Good luck!

  20. Daev
    March 1, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    Does anyone know how to delay audio output? I have managed to get all audio air playing through my sonos (yes it took a lot of work) but there is always a 4 second delay. I know you can delay certain apps like VLC player but can you just delay all output so you don't have to do it for each app? I'm starting to think you can't but it seems like such a simple feature.
    Thanks in advance for any help.

  21. Kathie
    February 11, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    I use a headphone and speaker with my iMac. Today on a call, my internal microphone was on, how can I resolve that?

    • Tim Brookes
      February 18, 2016 at 12:25 am

      Hey Kathie,

      You can fix this by defining your input device in System Preferences > Sound > Input. You'll need to connect your headset in order for it to show up.

      Hope this helps :)

  22. memskye
    February 7, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    my volume in the bar keeps coming and going continually, or just greys our completely.. help

  23. Sraddha Durand
    October 26, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    My issue is with the Sound Preferences. I use an external device, i.e. tv as my monitor and select the HDMI option. This works. My question is 'why do I have to do this every time I turn the computer on?' When I choose other preferences they stay 'chosen'.

    I'm having a similar problem with my iPhone contacts. I select iPhone contacts only (I don't want to scroll down my entire list of contacts looking for a number to call), but then after my next charge it goes back to all contacts. Its not a big deal, just annoying.

    Any ideas out there on how to make selections permanent until I want to change them?

    • Tim Brookes
      October 27, 2015 at 3:07 am

      Hi Sraddha,

      I generally find that my Mac remembers the settings, based on the device I have connected. E.g. if I connect my LG TV, I never have to specify HDMI audio out because it seems to remember that the LG TV is the preferred destination. Granted, I don't connect any other HDMI devices to my MacBook so I can't say whether this is entirely down to the device.

      Are you running El Capitan? If not I'd suggest updating your Mac so it's as up to date as possible, you may also want to submit feedback to Apple: http://www.apple.com/feedback/macosx.html

      Tim

  24. Augusts Kolms
    October 20, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Thanks for the post! Sound output had suddenly stopped working for me — both for the speakers and the headphones, although System Preferences (and Option + clicking the menubar sound icon) listed all my output devices correctly. Killing coreaudiod through the Terminal fixed my issue.

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