How to Enable HDMI Audio & Toggle Audio Output in Mac OS Quick Guide

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If you’ve ever connected your Mac to a non-TV via HDMI, you’ve probably noticed that, unlike a video source, the audio output doesn’t automatically switch to newly connected hardware. This is intentional, but many users misinterpret it as a problem with the output features of an HDMI adapter or cable, or even a Mac, when it’s almost always adjusting OS X’s audio output settings.

The usual approach is to go through System Preferences to Audio Options and change the output, but there’s actually a much quicker way to adjust the direction of the audio output, and it can be done from without entering any settings.

Quickly change audio output on Mac

This works on almost all versions of OS X and exposes all audio sources:

  • Hold down the Option key and click on the Sound icon
  • Find the desired audio output item in “Output Device” and select it from the drop-down menu

Change audio sources in Mac OS X to HDMI audio, speakers, etc.

The change is immediate, and the audio output destination has a checkbox next to its name set. Play a sound effect or any audio format to make sure it works. Although we focus on HDMI here, this also applies to all other ways to export audio, including applications such as WavTap that capture all audio.

Of course, it is still possible to use another way to go through System Preferences > Output to control this, but since everything can be done from anywhere without starting the settings, there is not much reason to go in this way.

To return to the default audio source (usually internal speakers or an audio connection), select Option + Click the audio menu icon again, and then select “Internal Speakers” from the drop-down menu.

Conversely, this menu trick also lets you switch input sources, making it easier to switch the input from an external microphone, another audio source, or back to the default internal microphone.

Why is the Sound menu icon locked?

You’ll notice that when an HDMI audio source is selected (and many other output options), the Audio menu icon turns gray:

A gray volume menu icon on a Mac indicates that you need to change the volume through the device instead of OS X

This doesn’t mean that audio export doesn’t work, it simply means that the volume has to be controlled via the hardware that the Mac now sends via HDMI, which is usually a TV or presentation screen, because the volume controls aren’t internal and the keyboard buttons are no longer there. work.

HDMI audio output still not working? Check that your Mac supports HDMI audio

Almost all new Macs support audio via HDMI, and almost everything newer than the 2021 model year has its own support. However, if none of these work, the HDMI output source does not appear in the menu options or audio output settings, and you are absolutely sure that there is nothing wrong with the HDMI cables and adapters, then you might want to check that your Mac supports HDMI audio output.

  • Hold down the Option key and click the  Apple menu, then select “System Information”
  • From the Hardware menu, select “Sound”
  • Click on the triangles to open each audio channel option and search for “HDMI Output”, “HDMI / DisplayPort Output” or something similar

How to find out if your Mac supports HDMI audio output

If you don’t see any HDMI output in your hardware’s audio menu, your Mac doesn’t support audio export via HDMI. If your Mac is brand new and should therefore support HDMI audio, there may be a hardware problem with the adapter itself (this is a very common problem with super cheap adapters bought online, find a trusted brand like Monoprice, and it costs a few). bucks more), or less In some cases, this could be a problem with the Mac itself, and you may want to contact AppleCare if you want.

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FAQ: Enable HDMI Audio & Toggle Audio Output from Mac OS X Quickly

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Apple devices only.

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