Silence Your Mac Boot Startup Sound Altogether [OS X Tips]

Silence Your Mac Boot Startup Sound Altogether [OS X Tips]

The iconic Mac startup sound has evolved over the years, but it is a distinctive part of being a Mac user. Sometimes, though, you just want to boot your Mac up silently. You can keep it from sounding out if you hold down the audio mute key on modern Macs (it’s that F10 key on my Macbook Air), but what if you want to disable it completely?

You can drop into the command line to do just that, it turns out. Here’s what to do.

Launch Terminal from the Utilities folder, which is inside your Applications folder. Once it’s up and running, type the following command after the blinking prompt:

sudo nvram SystemAudioVolume=%80

You’ll need to enter your administrative password after you hit Return on your keyboard, since this is a super user command (sudo). When you restart your Mac, you’ll notice that your boot sound is silent.

If you want to return to hearing the Mac startup sound, you can type or paste the following:

sudo nvram -d SystemAudioVolume

Again, you’ll need to enter your admin password to support the sudo command.

Give it a shot and let us know what you think in the comments below.

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  • tomp

    haha… who turns off or reboots his mac anyway?!?! The only couple of times a year I turn it off is when I travel.

    On another note, if you have floppy disk with valuable data you can buy an external floppy disk drive and restore all your ‘valuable’ data.

  • David Ilsignorino

    It worked for the Startup sound but it still makes the sound when I restart it. Any idea how can I silence that as well?

  • David Ilsignorino

    It worked for the Startup sound but it still makes the sound when I restart it. Any idea how can I silence that as well?

  • certified_dan

    This does not work! I tried it multiple times on my 2011 MBP running 10.8.2.

  • skeese

    Rob, did my previous comment get thru or was it lost in the log in process?

  • gml08231

    Instead of %80, try %00
    That turns the sound way down on a Lion without totally silencing it (which is what I prefer)
    I did not try %80

  • Sphinx

    Well the Mac’s chime is not just a “distinctive part of being a Mac user”, is it? It’s there for a very good reason. It’s an audible confirmation that the diagnostic your Mac runs on itself at startup has been done and passed. It actually has an important function because if you DON’T hear it it’s a sign that there’s a problem with your Mac. Over the 23 years I’ve been using Macs the lack of chimes has alerted me that there’s a problem somewhere and a need to reset NVRAM/PRAM. Knowing about this and sorting it can save problems later on that, if you have your chime turned off, you won’t realise. I really don’t see the point of turning it off – it’s only a couple of seconds noise! And, as Tomp says, how often do most Mac users reboot? Apart from when going away, it’s usually only after something has gone wrong. And that’s precisely when you’d want to hear the chime to see if all’s well or not!

    • hp79

      Man, I hate guys like you Apple fanatics, thinking this is the way you’re supposed to use it, Apple way or no way.

      I’m a heavy Windows with moderate Linux user and I switched to OSX (rMBP13) about 6 months ago. I appreciate the hardware especially the high resolution and build quality of my rMBP and how fool proof the OS is overall, but some things like this is what I really hate about OSX. This and Finder of course.

      Why force the users to listen to that stupid boot up sound? If it was that important to be used as a diagnostic method, why is it even allowed that we can mute it before powering it off? Macbooks are also no longer user serviceable, so there’s no point in letting the users do any diagnosis at all.

      I hate this boot up noise. My colleague always comes in later than me, turns on her MacPro every fukin morning and I have to listen to that stupid sound playing every single day.

      I know it’s an old article and it’s 2014 March right now, but this problem is still not fixed. This is really stupid.

      • Bomyne

        All operating systems have a boot up sound. Windows 95 has the one that i remember the most. Many PCs also have a boot up sound. For most, that’s a simple beep… but i have seen variants. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xh1JzHWvPqY

        Start up sounds last about 2 to 5 seconds at the most… So why do they bother you?

  • ks899

    Nobody should be leaving a Mac or any other electrical device “On” ever when not using it. Have you heard of saving energy people? Get with it. Yes, anything plugged in, even if turned off, is still sucking phantom loads of electricity off the grid. Turn your crap off, seriously. If you’re using a battery, it just wears out quicker if you leave it on. Reduce your usage so you consume less. Duh. Secondly, the noise is LOUD and disturbs my think-tank like office. If I’m late and I walk into my pin-drop-quiet office, and switch on my Mac, it sounds like a top volume explosion, its so quiet in here, and draws attention to the fact that I’m late. I would like to slip in to my perch unnoticed sometimes. If something goes wrong with my Mac, I call the IT guy and he fixes it, so I don’t care if I don’t hear a chime, if there’s a problem, I’ll know soon enough. Bottom line, Apple should add a controller in System Preferences where you can control the volume of the start up sound.

    • Bomyne

      Computers do not suck up “phantoms of energy”.

      At home we have 5* computers (including one iMac and one Windows laptop) running 24/7/365. We only reboot them if we need to install updates that cant be done while running, or shut them down to upgrade components (rare). Our power bills have always been exceedingly low, despite 5 computers using it. I also have never had a computer fail on me due to over usage.

      Also, if i turn on my systems every time i want to use them to check email, or whatever i do with them, i’ll use a lot more power because computers use power relative to what they are doing…. and boot up requires a lot of power.

      * = Before you ask, two of the computers are not mine… and the other three are development machines, each dedicated to a separate OS (Windows/Android, Linux, Mac/iOS). It is not unusual for me to be jumping between all three at a time.

  • catlee

    I work as a consultant and share office space with my co-workers. I’m often at several meetings throughout the day and in and out of the office. The startup sound is conspicuous and disruptive. Your command line worked like a charm for my MacBook Air running OS X 10.8.3 (12D78) for both restart and shut down/start. Thank you!

  • freddieorrell

    Startup sound is yet another reminder of how computer designers are dazzled by fripperies while blind to the real needs of users. A default silent startup with an optional (base level function) keypress to enable the chime would make most sense (as disabling it altogether prevents using it to diagnose a fault). Thus silent startup (a) in a quiet office, (b) when family are asleep, (c) without alerting thieves while outdoors, (d) on a train or plane, (e) in a library, (f) when the same volume used in the environment you last shut down in is too loud, (g) if you don’t want everyone around staring at you, (h) when connected to public address in a conference hall or studio monitors etc etc etc, leaving keypress-enabled sound to (a) diagnose a fault or (b) draw attention to yourself.

  • Bomyne

    I actually like the sound…

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, Creative Screenwriting, Shelf-Awareness, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef, and send him a cookie once in a while; he'll really appreciate it.

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