Make The Volume Ultra-Quiet [OS X Tips]

Make The Volume Ultra-Quiet [OS X Tips]

Here’s how to access a secret setting to make your Mac’s volume very quiet indeed—ideal if you’re trying to listen to something in a very quiet room where somebody else is working or sleeping, for example. As a tip this can be filed under the category, “Cool! I never knew that!”.


Here’s another tip from Mac Kung Fu, which contains over 300 tips, tricks, hints and hacks for OS X. It’s available from Amazon as well as other bookstores, and also as an eBook for all eReaders.

If your Mac has built-in speakers, you’ll be familiar with altering the volume using keyboard shortcuts (usually via the F11 and F12 keys). What you probably don’t know is that there’s a secret ultra-low volume setting. To access it, press the volume decrease hotkey until the sound is muted (that is, the speaker icon onscreen is struck through). Now press the actual mute hotkey (usually F10). You’ll see that the volume level is set at no bars. However, the sound isn’t muted. In fact, it’s a notch quieter than the lowest setting usually allowed—enough to hear things in a very quiet room.

This way you can still hear new mail notifications, for example, without the worry that somebody will complain about the noise!

Related
  • brimstone93

    I wish I had the ability to lower the volume more on my iPhone. Listening to music in a quiet room, it can still be loud on the lowest setting. 

  • Christoffer Kirk Poulsen

    Not directly related to the tip, but I would very much like to know what wallpaper that is? I have seen it on Cult of Mac before, but wasn’t able to locate the original file.

  • Karl

    I think I’ve seen that pattern on an album cover… but the name escapes me.

  • Aristocat

    Wow that was helpful!

  • Brandon Dillon

    Don’t be an asshole.

  • Pup K

    Very nice!  A related tip is that if you change the volume while holding the SHIFT key, you won’t hear the chirping sound at each bar level.

  • Kalani Thielen

    Strictly speaking, it is actually helpful.  It’s only a partial answer, but a total answer can be constructed from many partial answers.

  • KeirThomas

    It’s a William Morris print wallpaper — a real-life wallpaper! 

    Here it is: http://mackungfubook.com/macku

    If you want to thank me buy my sodding book!

  • baby_Twitty

    Great tip!

  • Tronjheim79

    Interesting!

  • KeirThomas

    Unfortunately I can’t provide a link for the wallpaper because Cult of Mac moderate any comment that contains a link, including mine, despite the fact I write for the site. And my experience has been that anything held for moderation just gets lost in the system. >:-( 

    Let’s try providing the address in bits to see if we can overcome the moderation: You’ll find the wallpaper at mackungfubook com forwardslash mackugnfu-wallpaper.jpg

  • joewaylo

    A more useful tip might be “How to delete the volume file”. I’d like to disable the bleep bleep bleep when I’m turning the volume down.

  • Brian

    There is a short cut for that actually. If you google it, it is something like command and the key or command option and the key. Don’t remember off hand.

  • Michael Gijselhart

    holding shift while pressing F11 or F12

  • Steve Lawrence

    Try a search for similar images on Google image search. Right click the image in this post and copy the URL to it to your clipboard. Go to google.com and click on images, then click the camera icon in the search dialog. Paste the image URL and hit go. I started looking for you but the images it threw up were so depressing I had to stop…

  • Joel Bruner

    Good to know… but Jesus – can Apple bring back Option-Volume to Lion!? So angering! Option-Volume had the effect in 10.5 and 10.6 of adjusting volume by quarter clicks, and they took it away, I’ve bugged them in every seed build of Lion to no avail… :( By the way, for the person who hates the clicking sound. Just go into System Prefs -> Sound uncheck “Play feedback when volume is changed” no file deletion necessary.

  • Al

    I still use 10.6 on one machine – thanks for the great tip! Another reason not to upgrade it to Lion it seems.

  • Stephen Dovile

    In sound preferences you can untick the “Play feedback when volume is changed”

  • Alex Pasternak

    Absolutely, I have the same problem. I think the solution is to get headphones with their own volume controls (usually a little wheel). I keep meaning to buy this.

  • fever18

    Amazing Tip ! Thanks for sharing……

About the author

Keir ThomasKeir Thomas (http://keirthomas.com) is the author of Mac Kung Fu, which contains over 300 tips, tricks, hints and hacks for Mac OS X Lion. He's also the author of over 10 other computing titles.

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