The ups and downs of volume on a Mac

The ups and downs of volume on a Mac
Mac Tip #552, 19 September 2012

Pressing one of the 3 volume buttons on the Mac’s keyboard will certainly alter the sound level on your Mac, but here I explain some additional tricks, for your interest and entertainment. Here’s a round-up of several Tips related to changing the sound volume on your Mac.

Change the volume.

Change the volume.

Change volume silently

When you press the hardware keys on your Mac’s keyboard to increase or decrease the volume you hear a ‘blip’ sound for each increment. To change the volume silently hold down the Shift (⇧) key while you press the volume key.

Change volume by ¼ steps

Each time you press the hardware volume key on the keyboard it increases or decreases the volume by one whole unit. Hold down the Shift (⇧) and Option (⌥) keys together while you press the volume key. Now the volume will change by quarter units.

These two Tips were originally published in 2 quick tips for changing your Mac’s volume. Donald Manalla emailed to suggest the first one, but I found I’d already covered it.


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Make your Mac much louder

I often want the sound on videos or podcasts to be louder than the loudest setting on my Mac — sometimes because I’m making dinner or doing some other fairly noisy chores at the time.

The solution I’m very happy with is to use the software called Audio Hijack Pro (US$32). I wrote it up in detail in Make your Mac much louder. Check the comments for some suggestions by readers of alternatives.

Change the sound your Mac uses when it beeps

Apple’s System Sounds — the ones your Mac uses when it beeps at you — haven’t changed in forever. But at least you don’t always have to use the one your Mac was set to when you bought it.

My new sound for alerts.

My new sound for alerts: myAlert.

In Change the sound your Mac uses when it beeps I explain where and how to choose between Basso, Blow, Bottle, Frog, Funk, Glass, Hero, Morse, Ping, Pop, Purr, Sosumi and Think. Quick Tip: System Preferences > Sound > Sound Effects.

You can also change the volume for Sound Effects in the same place.

How to make a new system sound for your Mac

I find Apple’s System Sounds boring, and prefer to make and use my own. I explain how in How to make a new system sound for your Mac.


Using Mountain Lion (OS 10.8) and can’t find your Library folder? Open a Finder window then hold down the Option (⌥) key while you look under the Go menu. The Library folder is visible as a destination.

Change loudness with Applescript

Back in 2010 I wrote an entry on my KnowIT blog about changing the Mac’s volume with Applescript: Change loudness with Applescript:

Applescript can remember the loudness your Mac is set to, while using a different volume for an alert. Here’s how.

That post also linked back to Speak the time or date with Applescript. You may like to refer to those two posts if Applescript interests you.

But if all you want to do is use Applescript to change the volume on your Mac, here’s what you need:

set volume output volume 100

Add in say "Hi Miraz." on a new line at the end to test it.

In place of 100 (loudest volume) use a value between 0 and 100. Here’s a script to let you hear the volume in 10 step increments, starting with 0:

set myvol to 0
repeat until myvol ≥ 101
	set volume output volume myvol
	say "Hi."
	set myvol to myvol + 10
end repeat 

Applescript is particularly handy if you use software such as Keyboard Maestro for automating your Mac. I use a version of the first volume changing script above with Keyboard Maestro to change the volume to my preferred level whenever I launch the game Bejeweled, for example.

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One Comment;

  1. Miraz Jordan said:

    Ross McCrostie emailed:

    Anyone who still make use of a mouse in preference to a track pad might find the following of interest.

    As a user of a Logitech V450 Nano Cordless Mouse I have configured the left and right tilt of the wheel to decrease or increase the volume. I have found this most useful and use it frequently when listening to iTunes. The Logitech Control Centre, if installed, appears under “Others” in “System Preferences”.

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