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What to do if your Mac sound is not working

If the sound has stopped working on your Mac, follow these steps to help you get your Mac’s internal speakers working again.

If your volume controls are greyed out, or there is a red light beside the headphone jack, here’s what to do.

How to fix a Mac that’s not playing sound

Here’s what to do if the sound stops working on your Mac

  1. Play something: To begin with, check if there is definitely no sound coming from your Mac by playing something in iTunes. Open iTunes, click on Songs and select any track in your music collection. After you have pressed Play you should see the bar progressing even if you can’t hear the music.
  2. Turn up the volume: Make sure the volume isn’t turned down – press the Volume Up button, usually located on the F12 key in the top-right of the keyboard. When you tap this an overlay should appear on your screen. If this doesn’t work then try clicking on the Volume option in the Menu bar at the top of the screen.

    No sound from Mac: turn volume up

    No sound from Mac: turn volume up

  3. Check a different app: It is possible that sound is playing in iTunes but not in Safari, this may be because the sound is turned off in Safari. If you are watching a video in Safari and there is no sound you will find sound controls in the video window so you should be able to adjust it there. The video may be muted by default, requiring you to choose to hear the sound.
  4. Turn it off and on again: Sometimes the process of restarting your Mac can solve an issue like this.
  5. Look for earphones: Check your headphone socket and make sure there are no earphones connected to the Mac. If they are remove them and you should hear sound playing through the Mac’s internal speakers.
  6. Check your ports: Disconnect anything that is plugged into your Mac – not just from the audio port as Thunderbolt, HDMI, and USB devices could be channeling the audio. If there is just a cable plugged into one of those ports remove that too.
  7. Check the headphone jack for a red light: There may be something blocking the port, a bit of fluff or dust. If the port is blocked the Mac may be acting as if headphones are plugged in. Try blowing into the port to see if you can dislodge whatever it it. Then plug in some headphones while pressing and holding one of the volume buttons to see if that fixes the problem.
  8. Update your software: Check you are running the latest version of Mac OS X or macOS available for your Mac.  
  9. Restart the sound controller: Open Activity Monitor locate ‘coreaudiod’ in the list of processes, select it and click on the X to quit that process. The process will restart straight away and in doing so may fix your problem.
  10. Check System Preferences: Open System Preferences and click Sound. Click the Output tab and click on Internal Speakers. Check that Mute next to Output Volume is not muted (there should be no tick in the checkbox). Make sure that the Output Volume slider is moved to the right.
  11. No Internal Speakers? If you see Digital Out instead of Internal Speakers in the window, disconnect anything that is plugged into your Mac (as above). If Internal Speakers still isn’t listed as an option in the Output window then you need to contact Apple Support for help.
  12. Update your software: Check you are running the latest version of Mac OS X or macOS available for your Mac. 
  13. Reset the PRAM: This process can fix a some sound-related issues. Restart the Mac while holding down Command, Option, P, and R. Keep holding them down until the computer starts and chimes. Keep them held down until it chimes again, now release the keys.
  14. Reset the System Management Controller (SMC), see how to do that here.
  15. If this doesn’t solve the problem you may need to get your Mac serviced as it could be a sign of failing hardware.
  16. If none of these solve the problem then consider taking the Mac back to the Apple Store and getting the hardware checked out.

How to fix a Mac that won’t play sound through speakers/headphones

If you have an external speaker or headphones plugged into your Mac that has stopped working, try these steps:

  1. Unplug the speaker/headphones: Try connecting it to another device, such as an iPod touch or iPhone to see if it works.
  2. Plug it back in: Some times all it takes is to unplug and plug in again to get things working.
  3. Check the headphone jack for a red light: There may be something blocking the port, a bit of fluff or dust. Try blowing into the port to see if you can dislodge whatever it it.
  4. Plug in your headphones (or speaker) back in while pressing and holding one of the volume buttons. See if that fixes the problem.
  5. Check the volume level of your speaker or headphones. Sometime there are volume controls on the speakers themselves. You may find that they are turned right down, or even switched off.
  6. Check your ports: Disconnect anything else that is plugged into your Mac – not just from the audio port as Thunderbolt, HDMI, and USB devices could be channeling the audio away from the headphones or speakers. For example, if you have plugged your Mac into your TV via HDMI, and you are wondering why the speakers plugged into your Mac aren’t getting the audio, it’s because the sound is being routed to your TV. 
  7. If you want the sound to play through speakers plugged into your Mac while the pictures play on the TV screen you should be able to switch to your speakers by right clicking on the audio icon in the menu bar at the top right of your Mac and selecting the speakers there.
  8. Restart the Mac: Sometimes the process of restarting your Mac can solve an issue like this.
  9. Restart the sound controller: Open Activity Monitor locate ‘coreaudiod’ in the list of processes, select it and click on the X to quit that process. The process will restart straight away and in doing so may fix your problem.
  10. Update your software: Check you are running the latest version the Mac operating system available for your Mac. 
  11. Try Apple: If you are having problems with non-Apple headphones, try using Apple branded headphones to see if they work.
  12. If none of these solve the problem you may need to get the hardware checked out by Apple.

How to fix a Mac that won’t play sound through the TV

If you have connected your TV to your Mac via HDMI and sound isn’t transferring to the TV speakers, read on…

  1. Check System Preferences: Open System Preferences and click Sound. Click the Output tab and if you’re trying to play sound from your connected TV, select the HDMI option. Alternatively, right click on the sound icon in the menu bar and select the HDMI option. 
  2. Check your equipment: While this is an unlikely scenario, note that while HDMI cables are capable of transferring audio as well as the pictures, some older equipment may not be able to receive the audio. Check this isn’t the case with your set up.
  3. Check your HDMI cable: If the cable is looped into coils or bends that might affect it. Also check to see if there are any bent pins in the port where you have connected with the HDMI cable.
  4. Try the applicable steps in the tutorials above, including resetting the PRAM and SMC on your Mac.

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