Whether you’re using an external setup — either cabled or Bluetooth — or relying on internal speakers, there are a number of reasons why you might run into issues with sound not working on Mac.
There’s the obvious: discovering that you’ve accidentally muted your audio, haven’t updated your operating system in a long while, or a general build-up of detritus in your headphone port. A few fixes for these would look like a hard reset and often successfully address problems with sound not working right.
Then there are other problems, like finding your MacBook volume low or Bluetooth hiccups, that require a little more work. Sometimes, using a third-party app is the best way to get around here.
Luckily, you’ll find more information about all the tricks, in addition to some simple fixes for no sound on Mac, below.
Why isn’t my sound working on my Mac?
We won’t lie, this is a challenging question. But we’ll try to crack the case. Here are a couple of things that could cause audio on MacBook not working:
- Wrong output device is selected
- Your output sound is muted
- An external device connected to your Mac interferes with audio output
- Your macOS needs an update
- There’s a Bluetooth connection issue
- Your Mac needs a NVRAM or SMC reset.
How to fix audio not working on MacBook
Let’s do some comprehensive troubleshooting, step by step. No worries, all the solutions we provide are pretty simple DIY fixes that require no hardcore technical expertise.
Check your sound preferences
MacBook speakers not working could be a simple problem. Are you sure the right speakers are selected as the output device? Maybe the sound is muted? Let’s check:
- Open System Preferences/System Settings
- Choose Sound
- Check which device is selected as output
- Make sure Mute is not selected.
Unplug your speakers or other connections
If there’s an external audio device connected to your Mac, such as speakers, headphones, etc., try disconnecting it. Then, play the audio and see if the problem is fixed.
Mac volume locked at a low level
When Mac users complain about volume not working on Mac, or that they find their MacBook volume low, what they’re really having issues with are the volume limitations imposed on Apple devices by the manufacturer. Although these are designed to protect users (and their eardrums), they can leave users working in noisy environments or trying to listen to audio from their Mac at a distance frustrated.
An app like Boom 3D, in addition to offering virtual surround sound using normal speakers or headphones, lets you bypass the protocols that leave Mac volume locked and push the volume of your audio to higher levels.
Boom 3D also allows you to use customizable presets, adjust the default volume of individual apps, and elevate your music based on genre. In other words, if you’ve ever found your MacBook volume low, it could just be your new best friend!
Restart your MacBook
Sounds like a cliche fix, but it might really help fix sound not working on MacBook in case your computer didn’t initialize audio drivers during startup. Click the Apple logo in the menu bar > Restart, and let’s keep our fingers crossed.
Turn off Bluetooth
As anyone who’s ever seen the Bluetooth symbol inexplicably struck through with a straight or jagged line can attest to, wireless audio technology isn’t quite perfect yet. Even pairing devices that have been successfully connected before can be a headache sometimes, resulting in either no sound on Mac or your Bluetooth device.
Try the following:
- Click the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar or access Bluetooth via Control Center
- Disable Bluetooth
- After a few seconds, enable Bluetooth again
- Try re-connecting your wireless device.
Tip: Install AirBuddy to connect your wireless devices faster. This app has a beautiful connection screen that pops-up each time you open your AirPods case. Just like on iPhone!
Reset NVRAM and SMC
Note: you should only proceed with the instructions below if you have an Intel Mac. It’s impossible to reset NVRAM or SMC on Apple Silicon Macs.
Not all Mac users will know much about NVRAM (non-volatile random access memory) or PRAM (parameter random access memory) which appears in older PowerPC Macs. Essentially, they control some settings relating to sound and volume, which can be useful if you find sound not working on Mac, your Mac volume locked, or some other audio issues.
The solution for this is to reset PRAM/NVRAM on your Mac. To do that:
- Turn off your Mac and disconnect any USB devices other than wired keyboards
- Turn it back on and hold down Command + Option + P + R immediately after doing so
- Keep pressing those keys until your Mac restarts and you hear a second startup chime or, on Macs with a T2 Security Chip, until the Apple logo appears and disappears again.
Certain settings relating to time, keyboard preferences, and volume will reset. Ideally, this will also fix any issues with volume not working on Mac.
Another component that can be reset on Intel Macs to fix sound not working on MacBook is called SMC (system management controller):
- Turn off your Mac
- Press and hold down Shift + Control + Option + power button for about 15 seconds
- Turn on your Mac.
No sound on Mac due to suspected malware
Although most issues that involve Mac sound not working can be resolved quickly and easily, there may be something more sinister going on below the surface.
Using an app like CleanMyMac X is useful for identifying malware or junk that may be clogging up your MacBook. Sound not working is just one potential issue of many that malware might cause. Finding any unwanted presence on your Mac with CleanMyMac X is as easy as navigating to Malware Removal and hitting Scan.
Although there’s no dedicated “Audio Junk” section in CleanMyMac X, the app looks deep into your MacBook with Optimization and Maintenance scans, and will surely find any problems that are serious enough to result in audio issues like sound not working on Mac.
Your Mac might let a multitude of bugs into the system if the system is not up to date. This is why it’s important to regularly check for macOS updates so you don’t experience issues like volume not working on MacBook Pro or MacBook speakers not working.
Go to the Apple menu > About This Mac to ensure your Mac is running the latest version of macOS. Check if there are any pending updates in the Software Update tab. If there’s an update available, click Upgrade Now.
Restart the sound controller on Mac
If everything seems to be alright but your Mac still won’t play audio or you stumble on constant volume issues, restart the sound controller:
- Open Activity Monitor
- Type “coreaudiod” in search to locate the Core Audio controller
- Click the controller, then click the X button to quit it
- The controller will restart automatically. Hopefully, it brings your audio back!
Mac won’t play sound through the TV
Trying to make your TV play the sound from your computer? Unless your Mac is older than 2010, it should work fine. Here’s what you need to do if you have issues with playing Mac sound through the TV:
- Check Sound settings on Mac. Access Sound in your System Settings and make sure your TV speakers are selected as the Output device.
- Check Audio MIDI Setup. Go to Applications > Utilities and open Audio MIDI Setup. If there’s no speaker icon next to your TV device, click the wheel icon and ensure the sound output is selected.
Change Format values in Audio MIDI Setup. If your TV speakers are selected but you still can’t hear the audio, try selecting the TV device from the list and setting the Format values to 00Hz.
Power cycle both your Mac and TV. Power down both devices and plug out their power supply. Then press and hold the power buttons for 5 seconds. Plug in the power supply, turn your devices back on, and try playing audio once again.
Tip: Install JustStream to stream video or mirror screen from your Mac to TV with ease. It’s way more robust and customizable than AirPlay. Best of all, you can stream to any Smart TV and DLNA devices.
Mac sound not working is common but fixable!
Issues with limited or no sound on Mac are something that most Apple fans will encounter at one time or another but, as we’ve seen above, fixes are often pretty simple and rarely indicative of significant or costly issues. If all else fails, sound not working on Mac can often be resolved with a simple reset of your machine.
If the above tips don’t help then it’s worth looking at your hardware itself. A stuck key or a blown speaker might be responsible for your getting no sound on Mac too, and all the software tinkering in the world won’t fix that.
Although Apple does a lot right when it comes to audio, there are various apps out there that can fix audio issues and otherwise improve the performance of your Mac’s sound system, such as Boom 3D, AirBuddy, CleanMyMac X, and JustStream. All of them are available for a free 7-day trial from Setapp, a platform for the most useful Mac and iPhone apps around (240 and counting). Now you can make sure your Mac sound won’t let you down.