Something very cool I just noticed on my MacBook Pro: There's separate volume settings for headphones versus built-in speakers. I had the sound muted for external speakers last night. But, when I plugged my headphones in at work this morning, the volume jumped back to exactly where I'd left it yesterday. When I realized it happened, I tried alternately plugging and unplugging the headphones, marvelling at the volume icon going back and forth.

Has it always done this? Is this something new? Do other laptops do this? Am I on crack?

Archived Comments

  • I noticed this by first thinking it was some kind of bug - whenever I'd use my laptop after having it plugged into the TV/stereo the sound was muted. Then after some experimentation I realised it really is remembering. It's a great feature - as with my wireless headphones plugged in I want max volume for maximum goodness through the wireless transmitter, but obviously when I unplug them I usually don't want the laptop at max volume.

  • No, you're not on crack. I've noticed it too and it's very handy--another Apple design touch that "just works".

  • Mmm. Noticed it on my intel iMac a couple of days ago, too. Nice feature.

  • I don't know about always, but Macs, laptops at least, have done that for a while. My iBook G4 did it, and my current MacBook. It's slick. No idea if other laptops do it, haven't used a non-Mac one in a while.

  • Awesome I was just wishing for this feature the other evening after I almost deafened myself using headphones on my Powerbook. I hope the Macbooks have this feature.

  • My laptop has done this in Linux since I bought it, although I haven't gotten it to do the same thing in Windows yet.

  • It depends on the audio mixer that's in your laptop. My Dell Windows laptop does it, too, because it has two output volume settings.

  • Yep it's like this, you're not on crack. I noticed this too on my MBP awhile ago and a confirmed I wasn't hearing things.

  • Ahh bad HTML tag, I meant to link to the MacWorld article.

  • Matthew, I have a regular (non-Pro) MacBook and it does have this nice feature.

  • I noticed this on my MacBook a month or so ago; it's a very nice feature.

    You can see what's going on if you open the Sound preference pane and switch to the output tab; with the headphones unplugged the display will refer to "Internal speakers" and you can set the volume for them; plug in the headphones and it switches to "Headphones", and you can set a different volume (and, indeed, balance). Presumably, if you use (say) a USB audio output device, you could also have separate volume and balance settings for that.

    It's cool that, while you retain explicit control over these settings via the System Preferences, the system just behaves in a sensible way so that you never need to think about it. That's Apple for you.

    I mentioned it to a long-time (15+ years) Mac user who is also a usability consultant, and even he was impressed. We agreed that, on Windows, the likely consequence of plugging in a set of headphones would be a notification balloon saying "You have inserted an alternative Audio Signal Output Device. Click here to open Control Panel and configure your new settings." :-)

  • I hit my Apple (Command?) key with my cursor over the battery status icon on the system tray at the top of my new Macbook pro and it went "poof" complete with cloud and sound effects. In trying to retrieve it I then eliminated my volume icon as well. How can I get these indicators back? Any help is appreciated, even just an email. Thanks! Ken Mills