One of the most notable features to vanish with the launch of late 2016 Macs was the startup chime. This short sound, as we know it, was composed by Jim Reekes and first played on the 1993 iMac G3 and became the iconic noise of a Mac computer booting up, regardless of the computer line – desktop or portable – until the fall of 2016. The launch of the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and the introduction of the automatic boot feature marked the end of this startup noise for all new Macs except for the 13-inch MacBook Air of 2017.
About the Startup Noises Your Mac Plays
When you power on a Mac, it performs a power-on self-test or POST and BootROM test. This is the point where you'll hear the chime if your Mac is from early 2016 or earlier. The sound signals that the diagnostic tests the computer performs at startup have been passed. With recent Macs you won’t hear this startup sound, so the only way to determine that there are no hardware problems is if the progress bar and then the login window appear.
You might hear other startup noises, however, all of which signal a problem: a) one tone repeating every five seconds; b) three successive tones, a five-second pause before repeating, etc. – all of which mean something different. In this case, you might want to check what the sounds mean on this support page, and contact Apple Support if needed.
How to Turn On/Off the Startup Sound on Early 2016 or Older Macs
While the automatic boot feature – which is where your computer starts automatically when the lid is opened – is a handy option, some Mac users miss the iconic sound, so the search for how to restore it has started.
Apple doesn’t go into too much detail about why the models released in the fall of 2016 and after don’t include the startup chime on boot. Shortly after the Mac community notice the lack of the sound, with a theory appearing online claiming to be a valid method for re-enabling it. The harsh reality is, however, there is no possible way to do so.
The theory promoted online originating from one “MacRumors demi-god” claimed to re-enable the sound by typing the following command into Terminal:
sudo nvram BootAudio=%01
But don’t bother testing it on any newer Mac models, as it won’t work. This feature is limited to early 2016 or older Macs, and it can be both enabled or disabled on these models. This iconic sound can be either temporarily or permanently toggled on or off with any older models by following these steps…
How to Temporarily Disable the Startup Sound on iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air
- Launch Terminal, and type the following command:
- Enter the admin password and press Enter.
- Restart your Mac, and you will no longer hear the startup chime.
sudo nvram SystemAudioVolume=%80
Note that different Mac hardware will require certain variations of the above command, so here we’ll list all the commands you should copy and paste into Terminal to mute the startup sound:
sudo nvram SystemAudioVolume=%01
sudo nvram SystemAudioVolume=%00
sudo nvram SystemAudioVolume=" "
How to Re-enable Startup Sound on Early 2016 or Older Macs
If you’d like to hear that iconic sound again when powering on your Mac, paste in the following command into Terminal:
sudo nvram -d SystemAudioVolume
Temporarily Mute Startup Chime
If you have been using a Mac long enough, you might have noticed that the sound of the startup chime mostly depends on your current sound settings. This obviously means that if you mute your external speakers, the Mac won’t play that startup noise when powered on. So, to temporarily disable the sound, all you need to do is press the mute button on your Mac’s keyboard before shutting down the computer. If you don’t have a volume button (F10 key on newer Macs), you can always use the volume slider from the menu bar to silence the speakers.
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