Get Rid Of The Mac Startup Chime [OS X Tips]



Macs are distinctive among the computing fraternity in the melodious chime they make while booting. While PCs that do nothing more than beep might look on enviously, the fact is that the chime isn’t always welcome—boot your MacBook in a library, for example, and several annoyed faces will willingly hand out censure.

Here’s how to turn off the chime. These instructions are created for OS X Lion but should work with older versions of OS X.

Here’s another tip from the new book available from Amazon as well as other bookstores, and also as an eBook for all eReaders. 

Because there’s no official way of deactivating the boot chime (via a hardware settings switch, for example), the solution below is a hack that works by muting your computer’s volume when you shut down and then unmuting it when you log in again upon rebooting. Unfortunately, if you’re using OS X Lion this only works if you don’t have FileVault turned on, because that uses a different login procedure.

Follow these instructions exactly. Don’t use a different text editor such as TextEdit! TextEdit outputs plain text files that–perhaps because of a bug–cannot be interpreted as boot-time scripts, which is a vital part of this procedure.

  1. Open Terminal (Finder->Applications->Utilities->Terminal) and type nano, to open the nano command-line text editor. Then copy and paste the following two lines within nano:
    osascript -e 'set volume with output muted'
  2. When you’ve finished typing, hit Control + O, then copy and paste the following for the filename: ~/Documents/ Hit Return to save the file. See the screenshot for an example of how it should look.
  3. Don’t close the Terminal window, but alter the second line within nano to read as follows (that is, change with to read without):
    osascript -e 'set volume without output muted'
  4. When you’ve finished typing, hit Control + X, hit Y, then copy and paste the following for the filename: ~/Documents/ Hit Return to save the file. nano will quit.
  5. In the Terminal window copy and paste the following series of commands, typing your login password when prompted (copy and paste each line individually, hitting Return after each; note that the last two lines are actually one line but are broken in two because of website formatting issues–just copy both lines at once, then paste):
    sudo chmod u+x ~/Documents/
    sudo chmod u+x ~/Documents/
    sudo mv ~/Documents/ /Library/Scripts/
    sudo mv ~/Documents/ /Library/Scripts/
    sudo defaults write LogoutHook /Library/Scripts/
    sudo defaults write LoginHook /Library/Scripts/

When you reboot, you should find the chime volume is now muted.

Paste the script, hit Ctrl + O, then type the filename, as highlighted

To restore the chime at a future date, open a Terminal window and copy and paste the following series of commands, hitting Return after each line, and again typing your login password when prompted:

sudo defaults delete LogoutHook
sudo defaults delete LoginHook

  • KeirThomas

    I sense people are going to ask about the wallpaper used in the screenshots. I forget where i downloaded it from  but I tweaked it slightly to darken the edges, making it more usable. You can grab it here:….

  • Stuart Cox

    or you could just use the app that these guys make….

  • Penderworth

    Or you could just mute your volume before starting up the Mac — which may require unplugging any headphones or external audio first. When I mute mine, there is no sound. So what is the point of this “tip?”

  • Nathan Glass

    I just mute the computer as well.

  • KeirThomas

    I think you’ve answered your question yourself, Jacob. 

  • Daniel Jansen

    Way, way, way simpler. Install the StartupSound preference pane at… and avoid the Terminal. I have this on my OS X 10.4, 10.5, and 10.6 Macs. (No 10.7 here at Low End Mac yet.)

  • prof_peabody

    Who turns their computer on and off anymore?  Most of the time it’s just sleeping.  

  • Les Kern

    Title of story should have been: “How to do something completely useless the hardest way possible”

  • Andreas Booher

    This sound just needs to disappear from the OS or become a toggle switch in System Preferences (perhaps in Sound or within Users & Groups under Login Items).

  • Andreas Booher

    I turn mine off all the time, probably about once a day on average.

  • KeirThomas

    I’m always surprised by the number of people who are obsessed with shutting-down/booting. My main Mac laptop just sleeps when I’ve finished with it. But a surprising number of people shutdown every day, and reboot the next. Each to their own, I suppose :-)

  • KeirThomas

    I respectfully and strenuously disagree, Les! 

  • MacRat

    I think you would be surprised at the number of people who don’t even KNOW they can sleep a laptop.

  • flyoverland

    This might be a problem if you ever need to reset your PRAM. The signal it has been reset is the second tone. 

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  • mjrmd

    There is an free System Pref pane called “Startup Sound,” which does one thing. It mutes or tones down the Startup sound. It’s from Arcana Research.

  • David Clark

    Why the hell would you want to get rid of the iconic boot up sound? It’s the only thing I don’t like about the iPhone – no boot up sound

  • KeirThomas

    Sorry but this isn’t right. 

    You’re referring to the slightly louder chime you hear after resetting the PRAM. However, if you turn off the chime as described above, and then reset the PRAM upon booting, you’d also be resetting the hardware volume setting—so you woud STILL hear the chime after the PRAM reset. 

    Essentially, you’ll be unmuting the sound when resetting the PRAM.

  • KeirThomas

    Good point. 

  • jd78

    That does not work. I can mute my iMac turn off the external speakers, but the chime will play every time from the internal speakers. 

    This will be useful to me since there are some days I reboot my iMac a couple times a day especially if I booting to Windows via boot camp (lately to play SWTOR) and then later booting back to Lion when I am done. 

    Unfortunately my office is adjacent to my son’s room and I am afraid the chime is going to wake him up late at night.

  • TylerHoj

    Awe c’mon now, it’s the little bells and whistles like that that make Apple products so unique and iconic. Watch Wall-E and that seamlessly designed white robot boots up with the same sound! It’s the little things that make Apple so…Apple-ly. 

  • Albert

    Couldn’t get it to work on either snow leopard or lion; not sure why.

  • TylerHoj

    Turning off your computer saves electricity. Little amounts can add up. After I started turning off my Apple products at the end of the day I’ve noticed a savings of at least 3 or 4 dollars on my hydro on a monthly basis. Do the environment and your wallet a favour. I’m sure waiting the extra ten seconds for your computer to boot up everyday won’t kill you. Especially since Lion has the resume feature. 

  • Andre Angelantoni

    Thanks for the tip. Just installed it (it’s free) and it’s very nice. About to reboot to test.

  • notyouraveragebarnaby

    the chime, or POST (power on self test) is the way you know that your mac is working correctly at startup.  it’s how you know that the computer recognizes the RAM and HD and is working properly.  best not to turn it off.

  • pcmedman

    Unfortunately, this did not work for me. I tried it twice, following the directions exactly as they are.  However, both times, in step 4. after I hit Return, I am asked “save file under different name?” then Yes or No. I said yes. Is that correct?
    I hope I get this working, because the chime really annoys me. I pretty much never shutdown my iMac, but it’ll happen that after an update, it needs to reboot, and since I often work at night, it wakes my wife up. And if I press mute before restarting, it still sounds the chime. So I have been looking for a solution for a several months now.

  • Albert

    Same thing happened with me; I aslo hate the chime.  I have both my computers in the bedroom and have elimated the start up chime on my PC but have been unsuccessful with my iMac.  It is just so arrogant of Apple to force the chime upon users.

  • CA_Jim

    Yep, same deal with me. Guess I’ll just keep scrolling through the comments to see if somebody found a solution.

    Edit: Nope, guess not.

  • sach3d

    why not using this:… ? :)

  • Craig

    StartNinja worked for my mac mini:

  • NothingNice2Say

    Thank you for this, Keir. Those of you saying to mute or plug in headphones or use an app, shove it. I’ve tried all those things, and this is the only method that has come close to working. While the pervasive startup noise will become quieter as I lower my volume, when muted or with headphones it plays at full default volume over the external speakers–but I shouldn’t have to adjust my volume every time I shut down anyway. I’ve tried both arcana and startup ninja and they had absolutely no effect. So please, shut the hell up forever, you’re not helpful.

    The only problem with this method is that the noise still plays when I leave my headphones plugged in. Apple seems determined to force me to listen to their iconic noise, thank you for giving me some small measure of control.

  • Shah Rahimi

    Worked like a charm! I had to do it a couple of times to get it right and that is because this was my first time to even open my terminal application. Thanks a lot for helping me get rid of that annoying BOOOONNNNNNNG sound!