Where’s the Startup Boot Sound on New iMac & MacBook Pro?

Jul 14, 2017 - 50 Comments

No startup boot sound on iMac or MacBook Pro

The Mac startup boot chime has been around for decades, and is one of the most notable features defining a booting Mac.

Nonetheless, the latest MacBook Pro and iMac models (from late 2016 onward) are quiet and perform no startup boot sound, meaning the Mac boots up completely silently instead of making the traditional chime sound when the Mac starts up.

A lot of Mac users have wondered why their Mac is not making the startup boot sound anymore, and the next question is if it’s possible to return the startup boot chime to the new Mac hardware.

New Macs do not have a startup chime sound effect

Mac models dating before late 2016 will have the startup sound effect and familiar chime. Mac models built after late 2016 do not have this sound effect on boot, except for the 2017 MacBook Air. This information comes directly from Apple Support:

Mac models from early 2016 and earlier make a chime sound when they start up. Mac models from late 2016 and later don’t have a startup chime.* …. *The only exception is MacBook Air (13-inch, 2017), which does have a startup chime.

So if you have a new Mac and it’s not making a startup sound, that is why. It doesn’t have a startup sound effect.

Older Mac models do have the startup sound chime sound, and older Mac models can both disable and enable the startup chime.

Can you re-enable the startup boot chime sound effect on new iMac and MacBook Pro?

If you have a new Mac model that has arrived from the factory and does not have the boot sound, the answer is (currently) no. Of course this leads people to the obvious question, “can I enable a startup chime sound on the new iMac or macBook Pro?” but, currently, there is no proven or effective way of doing so.

One theory promoted online and originating from some web forums was that you could re-enable the Mac startup chime sound effect by turning to the command line. The claim was that by launching Terminal app and entering the following command syntax:

sudo nvram BootAudio=%01

Supposedly, after executing that properly, the startup chime would be enabled on the Mac again.

But it turns out that nobody bothered to actually test this out, because it does not work.

Go ahead and try it yourself. You can execute that command on a new silently booting Mac, but it will not actually re-enable the startup boot chime sound effect on a Mac which does not support the startup chime sound.

There’s also various claims that resetting the NVRAM on the Mac would somehow re-enable the startup boot sound, but that’s also not the case on the newer Mac models which do not have the startup sound chime.

So why did that command surface online and the claim spread? Presumably it originated from the idea of basically reversing the standard process of disabling the Mac boot chime using a similar nvram command, which, unlike newer Macs, is possible on older Mac models from before late 2016.

The ability to toggle the system startup sound on and off is not new, in fact you’ve been able to use the nvram command to disable the boot chime on Macs for years, and you can also temporarily mute the boot sound with a keypress, it’s just the late-2016 onward Mac hardware that has opted to disable the boot sound effect chime.

Whether or not you like the boot chime on start likely depends on personal preference, though many longtime Mac users enjoy the sound effect, while some users find it to be unnecessary. It’s possible that a method of re-enabling the startup chime will arrive sometime, but at the moment it’s not possible, and currently all new Macs do not have the sound effect on boot. And that’s why your new iMac or MacBook Pro is not making any sound effect on boot!

Have any questions, thoughts, or tips about the startup chime on Macs? Let us know in the comments!

Enjoy this tip? Subscribe to the OSXDaily newsletter to get more of our great Apple tips, tricks, and important news delivered to your inbox! Enter your email address below:

Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

50 Comments

» Comments RSS Feed

  1. JR says:

    Why would you want to turn it on? Since OS9 I’ve had to search for software that would MUTE that sound!

  2. Doug says:

    I think the startup chime was useful back when all Macs had mechanical hard drives. Now that we’re in the age of SSDs and almost instant startups, it’s no longer needed. When’s the last time you opened your iPhone or iPad and lamented the lack of a startup sound?

  3. David Allen says:

    On the new Macs, what is the process for resetting the NVRAM. The startup chime was key for knowing when to invoke the key command to reset. Push too soon, it didn’t work, push to late, it didn’t work.

    • Opi says:

      The process to reset NVRAM is the same on the new Macs.

      But now it’s a guessing game without a chime; when do you hold down the keystroke to reset NRAM? Now? Now? Oops too late. Oops too early. Reboot and try again. Oops not quite yet. Reboot and try again. Just take a few wild guesses, you will get no confirmation, no reboot sound effect, nothing to confirm or deny that anything has taken place.

      Much like removing the escape key on MacBook Pro, removing every port needlessly, removing the headphone jack from iPhone, removing Magsafe from MacBook, the dreadful Touch Bar, these are all just changes for changes sake and none of which improve the user experience in any way. I find the direction Apple is going with this stuff to be so disappointing.

  4. Jay says:

    First, the chime is useful when the computer has some problems and needs to be rebooted. When the screen is completely black the chime is the only way to tell if you tried to restart the computer is working. Second, it would have been nice if the article had explained why Apple removed it. If there are people who really don’t like it why not create a way to mute it instead of removing it entirely?

  5. Elwood Downey says:

    Well I liked the sound and miss it. I also miss the magsafe power cord connector. Ah well, progress I guess.

    • Peter says:

      I’m with Elwood. It costs nothing to have the option. Some times I like it on. In other places I like it off.

    • Pablo says:

      Removing the magsafe adapter is a huge loss, I agree. And I also would miss the boot sound.

      Personally I bought a 2015 MacBook Pro rather than a new one, it has more ports and a real keyboard with function keys and Escape button, all of which are essential to my work. Plus magsafe, and the boot sound!

      Kind of funny but if you were describing this backwards it would almost sound like you’d be describing a new upgrade…. except it’s 2.5 years old.

  6. Bill R says:

    How do you boot in Safe Mode without the startup boot sound?

  7. Gelphyn says:

    An explanation as to why it was necessary to make the change would be great.
    Since the ‘Chime’ indicated that the POST had successfully completed it would be nice to know how the User would be informed that things are awry.
    Typical rubbish Apple implementation.

    • Chonglethorp says:

      There is no explanation from Apple, they removed the boot chime because it had been around for 25+ years and oh dear you must change what is original and unique.

      It was probably a decision of the industrial design team. I think their new motto is “More dongles, less personality.”

  8. George says:

    The chime lets me know when to hold the option key and go to bootcamp or select another disk to boot from. I’m sure it could also be used for recovery or something else with other key combinations.

    • no way says:

      No ti doesn’t you hold it when you press the power button and power up, if you press it when you heard the chimes you’re too late.

      • George says:

        Not on my 2013 MacBook Pro, when the chime sounds I simply press the option (alt) key and my boot choices for Time Machine, Bootcamp and Mac OS appear. No need to hold the key down any earlier!

  9. Bert Visscher says:

    Surely you meant “A lot of Mac users have wondered why *their* Mac…”.

  10. Dog says:

    I wish I could permanently remove it on my 2015 macbook air.

    • no way says:

      You can easily permanently mute the start up on older macs using this.

      I have used it for years, it works great, and using a simple terminal command.

      Open terminal and type exactly this:

      sudo nvram SystemAudioVolume=%80

      If you ever wish to restore it just type this into terminal:

      sudo nvram -d SystemAudioVolume

      Source of this is http://osxdaily.com/2012/11/04/disable-mac-boot-chime/

      • Dog says:

        Old news. Does not work.

      • Zapped says:

        That “trick” is not a fix at all. It is the same thing as turning the volume down. One or two book cycles later, and you have your chime back.

        • no way says:

          Wrong, turning the volume down does nothing to stop the startup chimes. I have used it for years on multiple macs, and it works 100%. It’s not a trick, it’s a terminal command that permanently changes the volume of the chimes.

  11. Piet says:

    Irrespective of which disc format is the primary disc, the Startup chime, as mentioned by other respondents above, acts as an alert to boot-up timing so that other actions can be performed. We are now as good as deaf.

  12. Alan Briscoe says:

    As I multiboot Bootcamp and High Sierra beta I did find the chime useful, but on my mid 2012 Macbook Pro – A1278 when the sound is off, there is still a quieter two-tone sound after boot, though I am sure just like many other multi-booters I am now used to the time it takes my machine to boot, and am able to hold alt down at the correct time in order to display the boot menu. … :)

    • no way says:

      The correct time to hold this is when your computer starts to reboot, the chimes has nothing to do with that, and waiting until then results in the computer booting normal, as it is too late.

  13. Adeline says:

    Just bought a new iMac. I think it’s terrible that they turned off the chime. Who do they think they are depriving us of something that has become part of a daily experience for 18 years ??!!! It’s only good customer relations that they should leave it be a choice for each customer, and not dictate what a person should like and not like, and then force them to put up with something they don’t like…especially when you consider the price tag for these things.

  14. Jan says:

    The chime indicated a successful hardware (POST) test, and also useful regarding the timing of certain fixes such as “press and hold the Shift key after the start up chime before the Apple logo appears”.

    • POST is why I always felt that the boot chime was acutally useful. I liked that Apple didn’t want to use a boring boot beep like a “normal” PC. I miss the boot chime, but I can live without it. One bad thing about the boot chime was that it could also serve as an indication that a Mac user in the office was having a lot of trouble. Their coworkers would hear that boot chime several times while the Mac user rebooted.

    • Billy the Bummed says:

      I really like the chime. It was helpful for troubleshooting, and it was also part of the personality and whimsy of the Macintosh.

      I fear Apple is just turning the Mac into a boring generic PC with less ports and more dongles, and a much higher price tag. What made the Macintosh unique needs to be maintained, encouraged, and persisted.

  15. Gordon says:

    Terminating the Mac Boot Chime in Terminal never worked on any of my Macs (2009 iMac, 2011 MBP, 2015 iMac). Where’s a good set of dikes when you need them?

  16. Robert H says:

    As a service tech I certainly miss that chime. It was one of the benchmarks during POST that made life a little easier in troubleshooting.

  17. no way says:

    About time this antiquated sound was permanently removed. It serves NO purpose, and in the world we live in, starting up your computer silently is a necessity in meetings and common courtesy in public places.

    I replied to several inquiring how to do this on older Macs that still have this feature, if you wish a permanent solution to muting the start up chimes, check that link. I have used it for years going back to Snow Leopard, it works great!!

    • Flaccid Hamster says:

      It DOES serve a purpose. How else is a user supposed to know when to hold down the Option key when rebooting to Windows partition via Bootcamp?…

      I’m waiting…

      • no way says:

        You hold option when you hit the power up, if you wait for the chime, it’s too late.

        The chimes have never served any purposes in OSX. Any tech that says it does isn’t very up to speed on OSX.

  18. Michael says:

    I have a MacPro mid 2012 (5,1) and after upgrading to OS 10.12, the chime was gone. I saw on osxdaily a method of going into the terminal and activating the chime again. I tried that and the chime was still gone. Several attempts gave me the same results. I guess on some configurations the chime is now a thing of the past. For me it was a lazy way of knowing when select another boot option. So far, I can still make everything happen without hearing the chime.

    • Daniel says:

      I had this same thing happen to mine. But when I reset the NVRAM, it came back, no Terminal commands. Just allowed the NVRAM to reset three times.

  19. RM says:

    I miss the chime – without it the machine is just a machine, quite without soul. It’s very telling. ;)

  20. Neil Fiertel says:

    The chime actually tells the user that a number of systems were checked and passed muster. If for example there is a RAM issue one hears the sound of broken glass..no chime I think is a foolish decision. One should have the option of course not to know what is going on aurally but it should not have been removed totally. Apple does what it does for example the changing to the hard see thin fonts I am forced to squint at as if every Mac user is under under 30 with perfect vision. I could go on but I think I have said enough. The system is in so many ways, terrific it would never stop me from staying with a Mac but having some choices in the OS like chimes and fonts for the system itself would work for me bigtime.

  21. mag jade says:

    these options shoudsl be left to the user as many others that had dissapear and were very usefull (The colore title of a file, replace by almost unvisible colored dots! The point of the whole name being colored was of course to easier to find or identify). I dissaproove of engineers who believes that they know better than the user! No, I hate that! If you don’t know what to change to justify your job, change job!

  22. rickatk says:

    I suspect the chime was dropped as part of the hardware product line unification. Not unlike macOS;iOS;tvOS and alike. The iPad,iPhone,TV and Watch don’t chime on bootup nor do they have hard drives. Macs are going the same way.

    Alternatively, the chime may represent old slow and not “always on.” Accordingly the boot chime was done away with.

    The boot chime is reminiscent of days gone by when the Mac was king. Now the Mac is part of a greater Apple ecosystem experience, which I certainly identify with more these days as I ponder all my Apple products.

  23. Bob Hogan says:

    I might be missing something here but…I have always used the startup chime as an indication that the Mac has passed POST (power-on-self-test). If the machine did not chime you knew there was a serious hardware problem (or the machine was muted!!).

  24. Dog says:

    I am a Linix admin. I know what the command line is for.

    I have tried the alleged fix. My friends tried it. It does Not stop the chime more than one cycle.

    I have considered modifying the hardware to disable the speakers for the first 20-30 seconds after a power on.

  25. ccavno! says:

    For these useless argues,We should do nothing but blaming Apple Inc,
    At least,
    they should add lots of easy things into system preference settings. not only this one!

Leave a Reply

 

Shop for Apple & Mac Deals on Amazon.com

Subscribe to OSXDaily

Subscribe to RSS Subscribe to Twitter Feed Follow on Facebook Subscribe to eMail Updates