Microphone Not Working on a Mac? Let's fix it!

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The microphone on your Mac is likely not something you use often, but when you need it – it’s critical. Making calls or FaceTime video chats are always important, and those working remotely may use their Mac mic to hold important business meetings.

When the mic fails to operate as desired, it’s problematic. Here we’ll tell you why your Mac microphone not working is not always as bad as it seems, how to turn on microphone on Mac devices, and what to do when Mac internal microphone not working.

Reasons why Mac’s Microphone stopped working

There could be several reasons for a Mac or MacBook mic not working. Here are a few options to consider:

  • It’s just broken. If you recently purchased your Mac, it’s possible the mic is just broken. Though all Macs go through quality checks, sometimes things are just broken. This is a good time to return or repair your Mac.
  • A new app. A Mac or MacBook microphone not working can be caused by apps. If you recently downloaded an app that requires permission to use your mic, it could be causing issues that prevent the mic from working at all. 
  • It may not be your Mac at all. Using a monitor with a mic included? Many modern monitors have mics, and it’s possible your app or computer are defaulting to that mic rather than your Mac’s internal microphone.
  • Check your settings. Your Mac’s mic may not have been set up properly, or its settings could have been changed for some reason. To check the settings when your mic input not working Mac “System Preferences” menu is your best option.

Microphone Not Working: Here’s How to Fix It

How to turn on microphone on mac

Unless your Mac’s mic is just plain broken, you can turn it on in the system Preferences menu. Here’s how:

  1. Click the Apple logo in the top left corner of your Mac’s menu bar
  2. Select “System Preferences” from the drop-down menu
  3. Select “Security and Privacy” from the menu
  4. Select the “Privacy” tab at the top of the window
  5. From the options on the left side of the window, select “Microphone”

This shows you all of the apps or services which have requested access to your Microphone. If you want to make changes, click the ‘lock’ icon on the bottom left side of the window, then select the apps you want to have access to your mic. If you’re using an app and your internal microphone not working Mac settings are often the fix.

turn mic on mac

Find out Which Microphone Your Mac Is Using

Remember when we mentioned some monitors have built-in mics, and that can cause issues? Sometimes you don’t need to know how to get  Mac microphone to work, you just need to know which mic it’s using!

Here’s how to check:

  1. Click the Apple logo in the top left corner of your Mac’s menu bar
  2. Select “System Preferences” from the drop-down menu
  3. Select “Sound” from the me
  4. Select the “Input” tab at the top of the window

This shows you which mic your Mac is using, and which microphones it has access to.

which mic your Mac is using

Check Application Permissions

Here’s how to check which apps have permission to use your Mac’s mic:

  1. Click the Apple logo in the top left corner of your Mac’s menu bar
  2. Select “System Preferences” from the drop-down menu
  3. Select “Security and Privacy” from the menu
  4. Select the “Privacy” tab at the top of the window
  5. From the options on the left side of the window, select “Microphone”
  6. Select apps you want to have access to the mic; de-select those you want to block access to

Check the Sound Input Settings

A common fix for a MacBook, Mac, or MacBook Pro microphone not working is to manage the settings. First, let’s dive back into the sound menu:

  1. Click the Apple logo in the top left corner of your Mac’s menu bar
  2. Select “System Preferences” from the drop-down menu
  3. Select “Sound” from the me
  4. Select the “Input” tab at the top of the window

When you select a microphone from the list of available mics, you’ll see two important settings: input volume, and input level. 

Input volume shows you the sensitivity your Mic is set to. If you have it set to a low setting, your Mac won’t pick up much at all. This is the first option you should check when you’re on a call and someone says they can’t hear you very well; chances are your mic input volume is just set really low. Knowing how to fix mic on Mac devices is sometimes as simple as managing this setting.

Input level shows you in real time what sounds your Mac is picking up. Give it a shot; speak in a normal tone, repeating the same word or phrase, and slide the input volume up and down as you speak normally. You’ll see the input level rise and fall, which indicates the sensitivity of your mic.

Disable Ambient Noise Reduction

Disable Ambient Noise Reduction

Users on macOS Mojave may see an option to disable ambient noise reduction below “Input Level” in the sound settings menu. This feature was meant to block random noise and focus on voices, but it can confuse voices for ambient noise and filter you out as well. If you’re on Mojave, toggle that option off to see if your Mac’s mic performance improves.

Turn on Dictation

You may not know why your Mac’s mic is failing you, but you can often force it back on with dictation. An accessibility setting, Apple’s Mac computers all come with a dictation setting that ‘takes over’ your mic for speech-to-text functionality.

mac dictation settings

Here’s how to enable it:

  1. Click the Apple logo in the top left corner of your Mac’s menu bar
  2. Select “System Preferences” from the drop-down menu
  3. Select “Keyboard” from the me
  4. Select the “Dictation” tab at the top of the window
  5. Toggle dictation to “On”

This forces your Mac’s mic to start working for you, even if another app is causing issues.

Reset Your PRAM

Your Mac’s Parameter RAM, or PRAM, stores temporary settings for your Mac, and may have saved a setting that is blocking your mic from working properly. If nothing else fixes your mic issue, resetting your PRAM may do the trick. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Power down your Mac fully
  2. Hold down the command + alt + P + R keys while powering your Mac on again
  3. Hold all keys for 20 seconds
  4. Release all keys and allow your Mac to restart normally

What a fussy process, right? In fact, a lot of the fixes for your Mac are clumsy, if we’re being fair. A much better way to make sure your Mac is running in perfect order is CleanMyMac X.

CleanMyMac X knows exactly what settings your Mac should be using, and performs routine checkups to ensure you’re operating at peak performance. Its Smart Scan feature is a quick and easy way to get rid of unnecessary junk and toggle settings on your Mac. If you need to do a deeper cleanse for your Mac, the System Junk and Optimizations features are more thorough. CleanMyMac X also identifies malware, handles updates and deletion of apps, and monitors your file storage for large, old, and unwanted files.

cmm mac

How to test the microphone on Mac?

A simple, effective way to test your Mac microphone is the included Voice Memos app. The app is meant for spoken-word notes, but it’s also a great way to test your Mac’s mic. Open the app, start a new note, and speak normally. If the soundwave in the app is active as you speak, your Mac can hear you.

how to test your mic

Boost your Mac sound

Looking to improve the quality of your Mac’s sound output? Boom 3D is exactly what you’re looking for!

Boom 3D for Mac is an impressive equalizer app with a really sharp ‘surround sound’ feature that makes it seem as though your tiny Mac speakers are actually fully immersive. You’ll feel like you’re in a theater watching videos on your Mac – and Boom 3D even works with headphones!

A feature we really enjoy is the ability to manage audio notifications. You may be watching a movie while expecting an important email. Think about it – friends messaging you, social media pinging you left and right, and all you care about is that email. Boom 3D lets you immerse yourself in a movie, block or reduce notification sounds for other app, but keep your email notifications pinging loudly. 

boom3d

Conclusion

Unless your Mac’s mic is just plain broken, chances are there is an app or errant setting blocking it from performing correctly. It’s frustrating, but we’ve shown you how to fix it!

The best advice is to be preventative. If you notice an app is blocking access to your mic for some reason, stop using it. The best way to delete unwanted apps and manage your Mac’s settings is with CleanMyMac X. For keeping your Mac running its best, CleanMyMac X can’t be beat.

Both CleanMyMac X and Boom 3D are available for free as part of a seven day trial of Setapp, the world’s best suite of productivity apps for your Mac. In addition to these two apps, you’ll get access to nearly 200 other incredible apps, and once your trial period is over continued access to the full Setapp catalog is only $9.99 per month. A great deal, so what are you waiting for? Give it a try today!

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