Is sound not working on your Mac?

Sound issues on Mac are pretty common. You may run into them when you connect or unplug an audio accessory during playback, use an app that accidentally misconfigures sound settings in the background, update to a buggy macOS version, or sometimes, for no apparent reason at all.

mac sound not working

If you’re experiencing a sound glitch on your Mac, wherein there’s no audio from internal speakers and increasing/decreasing volume isn’t helping either, there are some really effective fixes that can help you fix the audio problem on your Mac.

Here’s a list of such solutions we find effective in troubleshooting Mac’s sound not working issue.

1. Trivial Fixes for Mac Sound Not Working Issue

Before you embark on the complex sound troubleshooting process, we’d recommend you try out a few trivial fixes to resolve no sound issues on your Mac. Of course, if you’ve been a Mac user for some time, chances are you’ve probably already tried these fixes, in which case, you can skip to the next solution.

I. Check Mac Volume

First off, check if your Mac’s system volume hasn’t been muted accidentally.

For this, press any of the volume buttons on your keyboard (F10 (mute/unmute), F11 (volume down), F12 (volume up)) to see if you’re able to change the system volume. Alternatively, you can click on the volume control in the menu bar and move the output volume slider to do this.

check volume

If your Mac’s audio is muted, pressing any of these keys should unmute it, and you should be able to hear the audio again.

Another way to check if your Mac’s audio is on mute is through the device settings. To do this, go into Sound Preferences. Here, tap on the Output tab and make sure the Mute option is unchecked.

check mac volume

II. Reconnect Audio Devices and Choose the Right Output Device

A lot of the time, connecting a defective audio accessory, leaving an audio accessory plugged-in to your Mac for an extended period, or abruptly connecting/disconnecting an audio device during playback can also cause sound issues on Mac.

If you’ve started experiencing sound issues after switching output devices, you must, first, disconnect all audio accessories connected to your Mac. And then, make sure your built-in speakers are set as the output source by clicking on the volume icon in the menu bar and selecting Internal Speakers under Sound.

select correct output device

Once that’s done, test your speaker by playing some audio.

III. Check if the Sound Is Working on Other Apps

Although uncommon, there are times when you may not hear sound in a particular app on your Mac. It usually occurs in browsers with the mute feature, which lets you mute a specific tab in the browser.

To rule out its possibility and ensure this isn’t causing sound issues on your Mac, open the browser and make sure the tiny speaker icon in the tab playing audio is unmuted.

check if sound is working fine in other apps

Alternatively, you can also try playing audio in other apps to see if there’s sound.

If, despite performing all of these trivial fixes, the volume icon remains grayed out, or you don’t hear sound from your built-in internal speakers, move on to other fixes.

2. Reset the Core Audio API

Core Audio is a low-level API that deals with sound in Apple’s macOS and iOS. It’s responsible for various audio operations on macOS, including playback, recording, compression, decompression, and more.

As such, when there’s no sound on your Mac—and the trivial fixes don’t help—resetting Core Audio makes perfect sense.

Depending on whether you prefer CLI or GUI, you can reset the Core Audio API as shown below.

Reset Core Audio Using Activity Monitor

  1. Launch Activity Monitor.
  2. Tap on the search box on the top-right corner and search for coreaudiod.
  3. Click on the coreaudiod process name and tap on the x button on top.
  4. In the confirmation prompt, tap on Force Quit.

Reset Core Audio Using Terminal

  1. Launch the Terminal.
  2. Type in the following command and hit Enter:
    sudo killall coreaudiod
  3. Enter your administrator password.

Once Core Audio is reset, play some audio/media on your Mac. Most of the time, this fixes the sound not working problem on Mac. But in case it doesn’t, run the following command in the terminal to stop and restart the Core Audio API:

sudo launchctl stop && sudo launchctl start

3. Restart Your Mac

If resetting or reinitializing the Core Audio API doesn’t help either, you must try restarting your Mac.

To do this, tap on the Apple icon in the top-left on the menu bar and select Shut Down.

shut down mac

When it prompts you to confirm, hit the Shut Down button again, and your Mac will automatically close all open apps and shut down.

After this, press the power button to boot the Mac. When it starts up again, try playing some audio again.

4. Update/Downgrade macOS to the Latest Version

Although clearing the Core Audio API and restarting the Mac should fix most sound problems, in case it doesn’t, your current version of macOS could be the culprit.

If you’re using an older version of macOS than what’s currently available to the general public, you may want to update it to the latest version.

To update your Mac, click on the Apple icon in the menu bar and select About This Mac. Tap on the Software Update button. If an update is available, click on the Update Now to install it.

update mac to the latest macos version

Conversely, suppose you’ve started experiencing sound issues after upgrading to a newer macOS version. In that case, you can try downgrading to the previous stable version of macOS to see if that resolves your Mac’s sound problem.

5. Reset the NVRAM

NVRAM or non-volatile random access memory is a type of computer memory that’s responsible for holding certain system configurations about your Mac.

Audio/volume happens to be one such aspect saved on the NVRAM. As such, when none of the above fixes solve the audio issue on Mac, resetting the NVRAM is the next logical step.

Follow these steps to reset the NVRAM on your Mac:

  1. Shut down your Mac. Tap on the Apple icon in the menu bar and select Shut Down.
  2. Once it’s powered down, press the power button.
  3. As soon as the screen comes back up, press and hold the Command+Option+P+R keys for about 20 seconds. On older Macs, you’ll hear a startup sound by now, whereas, on newer Macs (with T2 security chip), you’ll have the Apple logo appear and disappear.
  4. Release the keys.

Upon resetting the NVRAM, some of your settings, such as date, time, volume, keyboard preferences, etc., will be lost and reset to default. So make sure you set them again after you log in to your system.

If Nothing Works, Reach Out to Apple

Fixing sound issues on Mac can be challenging. Since you can never determine the exact cause of the problem, you have to go through all the possible fixes until you get the sound working again.

All the solutions listed in this guide aim to simplify this process by providing you with a structured approach to troubleshooting Mac sound problems.

If you follow these fixes correctly, it will most likely restore your Mac’s sound, and you’ll be able to hear audio from its internal speakers once again.

However, if it still refuses to work, it’s very likely due to a hardware issue, in which case, you need to reach out to Apple support to seek further assistance.

FAQs About Fixing ‘Mac Sound Not Working’ Issue

If your Mac is stuck on mute, it's very likely a software issue or glitch. While a number of factors can cause this problem, it mostly occurs when you unplug an audio device during playback or use an audio recording/editing program that ends up misconfiguring your Mac's sound settings in the background.

Fortunately, there are ways to fix it. Resetting or reinitializing the Core Audio API is probably the easiest one, and you can do it by either force stopping the coreaudiod process from the Activity Monitor app or running sudo killall coreaudiod (to reset the API) or sudo launchctl stop && sudo launchctl start (to reinitialize the API) in the Terminal.

macOS offers two ways to reset the sound. You can either reset the Core Audio API that deals with all audio operations on the Mac or reset the NVRAM that stores all the information about audio, among other others, on your Mac.

To reset the Core Audio API, run sudo killall coreaudiod in the Terminal. Or, go into Activity Monitor and force stop the coreaudiod process. For resetting the NVRAM, first, shut down your Mac. Then, hit the power button and immediately press the Command+Option+P+R keys together until you hear a beep or the Apple logo appears on the screen. As soon as one of the two events occurs, release the keys.

If your MacBook Pro outputs sound to your headphones but isn't able to do so via the built-in speakers, it could be that you've selected the wrong device in the device output settings. In which case, you can fix it by tapping on the volume icon in the menu bar and choosing Internal Speakers under Output from the available output devices.

However, if this doesn't address the problem, you must try other fixes, as listed in the guide above.

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