Apple Mac turn off chime symbols

Since 1984, Apple computers played an endearing sound when powered on. This tone became a cultural calling card for the platform, but with the rise of automatically-booting Macs in 2016, Apple decided to remove this feature. If you miss the chime, there is a way to turn it back on. Here’s how.

How Does the Modified Setting Work?

To turn the chime on, we have to modify a setting in your Mac’s NVRAM (short for Non-Volatile Random Access Memory) using a terminal command. It’s not as scary as it sounds, but here’s some background on what’s going on.

In a Mac, NVRAM is a small amount of memory that stores computer-wide settings. It remembers these settings without power, so they’re accessible at startup and available between system restarts.

With the commands below, we are changing a setting in NVRAM called “StartupMute” that tells the computer whether or not to emit the chime at startup. The ‘sudo’ command is necessary because ‘nvram’ is a powerful command that requires superuser permissions to use.

If you’re curious for more information about NVRAM—what it is, and what it does—check out this handy How-To Geek guide. Also, Apple has more info on startup tones and what they mean on its website.

How to Enable the Mac Startup Chime

First, launch Spotlight Search by hitting Command + Space on your keyboard. You’ll see a large search bar pop up in the middle of your screen.

Apple Spotlight Search Bar

Type terminal and then hit the Return key.

Launching Terminal.app through Spotlight

This will launch the Terminal app. With its default settings, Terminal appears as a window with a black background.

In the Terminal window, type sudo nvram StartupMute=%00and then hit the Return button.

Mac OS X Terminal Window - Turn on Startup Chime

It will ask you for your password. Type in your password and hit Return again.

Now restart your Mac and see if it works. The chime should be there.

How to Disable the Mac Startup Chime

If you’re tired of hearing your startup chime and would like to disable it again, here’s how to do it.

Launch Spotlight Search by hitting Command + Space on the keyboard. You will see a large search bar pop up in the middle of your screen.

Apple Spotlight Search Bar

Type terminal and hit Return.

Launching Terminal.app through Spotlight

This will launch the Terminal app. With its default settings, Terminal appears as a window with a black background.

In the Terminal window, type sudo nvram StartupMute=%01and hit the Return key.

Mac OS X Terminal Window - Turn off Startup Chime

If it asks you for your password, type it in and hit Return.

Now restart your Mac and see if it works. The chime should be turned off.

Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a Staff Writer for How-To Geek. For over 14 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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