How to Fix the Sound Not Working on Your Mac

Troubleshooting a Mac with no sound

Whether you're playing a game, listening to music, or streaming video, you need to be able to hear sound coming from your Mac. And, if the sound on your Mac has stopped working, you want to fix it right away. This article explains the common causes of sound not working on a Mac and how to fix them.

The instructions in this article apply to all Macs—desktop or laptop—running macOS 12 (Monterey) and higher. The principles remain the same for earlier versions, but the specific steps might be slightly different.

Why Has the Sound on My Mac Stopped Working? 

There are several reasons that the sound on your Mac could stop working. It could be a software problem, either with the parts of the operating system that play the sound or the apps you're using. It could also be a hardware problem, such as a defective speaker or headphones that the audio is going to without you realizing it. There are so many possible causes that it's hard to list them all—so let's get to the solutions.

A man listening to audio on his iMac

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How Do I Get Sound Back on My Mac?

Whatever the reason sound isn't working on your Mac, follow these steps—in this order—to get sound back on your Mac.

  1. Check the volume. You might not be hearing sound because your volume is at zero. It may seem silly, but the first troubleshooting step should always be the simplest. If the app you're using has a volume control option, adjust it. You can also check the volume at the system level (not just the app level) by clicking the Control Center in the top right corner of the menu bar (it looks like two sliders) and moving the Sound slider to the right.

  2. Try a different app. The bug preventing sound from working might be in the program you're using. Whether that's Apple Music or Spotify, Apple TV or a game or something else, try to play sound in a different program. If it works, then the earlier program is the culprit. See if there's an update for the app to install that fixes your problem.

  3. Check ports and jacks. If the sound isn't playing from your speakers, the sound could be playing somewhere else, like a pair of headphones or another audio accessory. Check all of the ports and jacks on your Mac—USB, Thunderbolt, headphone, HDMI, etc.—to make sure nothing is plugged in that could be taking the audio. Try unplugging anything you find and, if necessary, cleaning out the ports to remove dust and debris.

  4. Check output settings for built-in speakers. If the sound isn't playing from the built-in speakers on your Mac or MacBook, there could be a problem with your Output settings. Fix them by going to the Apple menu > System Preferences > Sound > Output > select the built-in speakers > move the Output Volume slider to the right > uncheck the box next to Mute.

  5. Check for wireless speakers or headphones. If you played audio to wireless speakers or headphones, your Mac might have automatically re-connected to them without you realizing it. The sound might be playing to them now. The simplest way to check for, and fix that, is to turn off Bluetooth since that's how you connect almost all wireless audio devices. Click Control Center and then click the Bluetooth icon to change to grey/Off.

  6. Force quit the sound controller. The macOS plays sound using software called the sound controller. You can quit and restart that software without restarting the whole computer. To do that, open the Activity Monitor (found in Applications > Utilities) > search for coreaudiod > click it > click the x > click Force Quit.

  7. Restart the Mac. Restarting your computer is a cure for all kinds of problems, including when the basic features of the computer aren't working correctly. If nothing else has worked so far, try rebooting your Mac to see if the sound starts working again.

  8. Install an OS update. Updated versions of the macOS deliver new features and fix old bugs. It could be that the sound problem you're facing is coming from a bug that's fixed in an updated version of the macOS. Check for an update and, if there is one, install it.

  9. Get support from Apple. If nothing else has worked at this point, it's time to go to the experts: Apple. You can get online and phone support from Apple or make an appointment for in-person help at your nearest Apple Store.

  • How do I record audio on my Mac?

    You have plenty of options for audio recording in macOS, including GarageBand, Voice Memos, and QuickTime. In QuickTime, go to File > New Audio Recording. For more options, you can download a third-party app like Audacity.

  • How do I screen record on a Mac with audio?

    If you're trying to record sound through your Mac's microphone while recording the screen, you're in luck; most apps that can make a screen recording (including QuickTime) also have an option to record audio simultaneously. Unfortunately, macOS doesn't have a built-in way to record the screen and audio output simultaneously. You'll need to find a reputable third-party app for that.

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