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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Quick Tip: Adjust startup sound volume

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

When I visited my parents this weekend, they–as ever–had their fair share of technology questions for me to resolve. In particular, my mom wondered if there was any way to adjust the volume of the startup chime for her iMac, which was quite loud. I was a little puzzled, since she has speakers connected to the Mac and they’re generally off, but she said the sound seemed to be coming from the iMac’s own speakers. Fortunately, a little digging yielded a tip from good old Mac OS X Hints.

Sound Preference Pane

Long story short, even if you have external speakers connected to your Mac, OS X still has a volume level for the internal speakers. But, if you go to System Preferences > Sound and select the Output pane, you might not see an option to adjust the internal speaker volume if your external speakers are still plugged in.

So here’s the fix: unplug the speakers and wait until you see the option for internal speakers. Then adjust the volume using the slider at the bottom, which will control how loud the startup chime is–if you don’t want a startup chime at all, just lower the volume all the way or select Mute. Afterwards, you can plug the external speakers back in and, if need be, adjust their output level separately.

And voilà: your Mac’s startup chime will now stay at the level you want it.

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is now available for pre-order.]

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