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 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 there 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!