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Code to silence the startup chime on Intel-powered Macs System
I've created a simple three-line startup item that silences the Mac OS X boot chime, colloquially known as the "bong" sound, on Intel-based Macs. PowerPC-based Macs use another method for changing the startup chime's volume, so this tip won't work for them.

So why not just run sudo nvram SystemAudioVolume=" " and be done with it? Because of my normal volume settings, my MacBook keeps resetting the chime volume automagically. Until a simpler solution is found (and honestly, three lines is pretty simple), this should work fine. TinkerTool System can silence the startup chime, but it is shareware. StartupSound.Prefpane can do this, too, but DebongIntel is a simpler solution if all you want is to silence the chime. You can also modify the script to set the volume to a non-silent level.

The solution involves making a directory, then two files, then modifying the permissions slightly.

First, the directory (all of the following steps are done in Terminal):
$ sudo mkdir -p /Library/StartupItems/DebongIntel
Next, the two files -- remember to use sudo to create and edit these files.

File #1: /Library » StartupItems » DebongIntel » DebongIntel:
#!/bin/bash
[ "z$1" == "zstop" ] && nvram SystemStartupSound=" "
File #2: /Library » StartupItems » DebongIntel » StartupParameters.plist:
{
  Description = "DebongIntel";
  Provides = ("DebongIntel");
}
Finally, the permissions:
$ sudo chown -R root:wheel /Library/StartupItems/DebongIntel
$ sudo chmod -R 755 /Library/StartupItems/DebongIntel
$ sudo chmod 644 /Library/StartupItems/DebongIntel/StartupParameters.plist
This will, in just three "real" config lines and some change, permanently silence the chime. I've tested this on a first generation MacBook running OS X v10.4.8. If you try this on other Intel hardware, please post your results!

If You Don't Like the Terminal:

If you're too busy to bother with these changes, or unsure of your abilities on the command line, you can download the friendly graphical installer instead. In order to explicitly grant all readers more rights, this text is provided under a CC BY-SA license.

[robg adds: I found this older hint hiding in the queue, and felt it interesting enough to publish. It was written for 10.4, and 10.5 uses a different startup task mechanism, but this one should still work fine. Note that the security certificate on the linked site has expired, so you'll need to authorize an exception (in Firefox) to view it; I'm not sure if you can do the same in Safari or not. I haven't tested this one.]
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Code to silence the startup chime on Intel-powered Macs | 27 comments | Create New Account
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Code to silence the startup chime on Intel-powered Macs
Authored by: Morwen on Jan 16, '09 08:34:48AM

If you apply this code to silence the start up chimes, does this mean you won't hear the chimes you need to hear when you need to boot into single user mode or perform a PRAM reset etc?



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Code to silence the startup chime on Intel-powered Macs
Authored by: hasseg on Jan 16, '09 08:51:04AM
I silence the startup chime via a LogoutHook that sets the volume to zero. Find more info on how to do this here: Here's the text of the article (in case it doesn't ever come up again and the google cache gets reset or something)

“Let’s turn on my shiny Apple MacBook … DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG!”

If you own a MacBook you know what I’m talking about, that annoying (and sometimes extremely loud!) sound that it plays when it boots. I’m quite egocentric, but I don’t like to let the whole building know that I’m using my computer in the middle of the night, or be hated by all the library when I check my emails.

There are ridiculous applications around like this, 3.3mb and not even free to simply turn that stupid sound off. It only turns the volume off before Mac OS shuts down and turns it on when it starts. Does this need a *censored*ing GUI application?

I just wrote this two lines of AppleScript: add this to /etc/rc.shutdown.local :

osascript -e "set volume output muted 1"

and this to /etc/rc.local :

osascript -e "set volume output muted 0"

and it’s done!

The cool thing is that it doesn’t change the volume level, so when you boot into Mac OS you’ll find the same volume level you left before the shutdown :)

I hope this helps

Edit: with Leopard, Apple removed the support for /etc/rc.shutdown.local, but /etc/rc.local still works. To disable the startup sound we can use a LogoutHook, something that is executed when we logout/shutdown/restart: just create a script wherever you want (/opt/local/bin/ and ~/bin/ are a good choice) and add it with a LogoutHook: in you script write:

#!/bin/tcsh -f osascript -e "set volume output muted 1"

make it executable with:

sudo chmod +x /PATH/TO/YOUR/script.sh

and then:

sudo defaults write com.apple.loginwindow LogoutHook /PATH/TO/YOUR/script.sh

In this way we can make this trick work, even without rc.shutdown.local. There is also an old macosxhints.com article that explains how to do that, but its weak point is that the volume is not restored properly, but it’s alway set to 3/10.



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Code to silence the startup chime on Intel-powered Macs
Authored by: Tlalox on Jan 16, '09 08:58:13AM
Have a look at http://www.satsumac.com/Psst.php :
"Psst is a simple but beautiful faceless application that
lets you adjust/mute the volume of your Mac's startup chime.
It runs in the background and uses no CPU"

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How do you restore the chime?
Authored by: chimerical on Jan 16, '09 09:14:33AM

How do you restore the chime in case you change your mind?



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How do you restore the chime?
Authored by: palahala on Jan 17, '09 03:14:09AM

First of all: note that robg states "It was written for 10.4, and 10.5 uses a different startup task mechanism, but this one should still work fine".

On my 1st generation Intel MacBook 10.5.6, on which I did NOT use this tip, I have no setting SystemStartupSound:

sudo nvram SystemStartupSound
nvram: Error (-1) getting variable - 'SystemStartupSound'

So, I assume there's no default value for this setting. sudo nvram -xp reveals I do have a value for SystemAudioVolume, but that was not used in this tip. When changing your mind (or when other problems arise) then deleting SystemStartupSound might help, but I don't know for sure:

sudo -d SystemStartupSound

Using one of the preference panes from the other comments at least helps you remember that you changed the startup volume...



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Use this - easier
Authored by: hexghost on Jan 16, '09 10:13:56AM
I've found http://www5e.biglobe.ne.jp/~arcana/StartupSound/index.en.html works great, and it's just a simple preference pane.

Works on my quad core mac pro, my core iMac, and my macbook.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Use this - easier - x2
Authored by: doneitner on Jan 16, '09 04:53:11PM

I have been using this Startup Sound pref pane for years. It's great because it provides a user interface to change the volume of the startup chime (so you can choose to mute it or simply make it quieter) and works perfectly within OSX's preference panes interface, where such an item should be found. I give this two thumbs up.



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Works sometimes
Authored by: rottenchops on Jan 19, '09 09:18:07AM

This worked for me for a while, then stopped. Nothing I did made it work again. FWIW.



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Code to silence the startup chime on Intel-powered Macs
Authored by: arizdave on Jan 16, '09 10:14:59AM

There is an an important reason why Apple put that startup sound "dong or bong" whatever it sounds like to you. Actually there are multiple different sounds if a hardware failure occurs during this startup process. It has happened to me twice in 25 years of using Mac's !!!!! Its almost like Windows "blue-screen-of-death". If it happens to you "out-of-warranty" you have a very large paperweight.



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Code to silence the startup chime on Intel-powered Macs
Authored by: BrentT on Jan 16, '09 10:36:30AM

Since not all Mac users can hear this points out they probably should have a visual warning as well.



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Code to silence the startup chime on Intel-powered Macs
Authored by: pony777 on Jan 16, '09 12:11:39PM
In the old days, these tones were accompanied a sad mac icon. I only encountered that once in all my years of using macs. Newer macs instead use tones as indicated above. A quick glance at [link:http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1547] reveals that, with exception of some new iMacs, the system power LED blinks along with the tones. Of course, on my Macbook Pro, the power LED is busted (anybody know how to fix that?) so I'll just have to listen carefully!

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Code to silence the startup chime on Intel-powered Macs
Authored by: richardmac on Jan 16, '09 10:53:54AM

Here's an alternative method that doesn't involve any code. Find a set of headphones you no longer want that use the standard stereo mini-jack (or go to a Dollar Store or 99 Cent store and pick up a set). Cut the cord just after the jack.

Now, whenever you want to start the Mac silently, just plug in the jack that now goes to nothing. The Mac will be silenced.

This creates a silent booting Mac without making any permanent (or semi-permanent) modifications.



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Code to silence the startup chime on Intel-powered Macs
Authored by: wallybear on Jan 16, '09 02:28:26PM

This on iMacs it's not enough. The startup chime will play thru speakers anyway, headphones plugged or not.



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Code to silence the startup chime on Intel-powered Macs
Authored by: Mr. H on Jan 16, '09 03:41:35PM

Unfortunately, Apple changed this behaviour. With new Macs (all Intel ones, I believe), the start-up chime will play through the built-in speakers, even if you have earphones plugged in. This (to me, at least) seems counter-intuitive and I logged it as a bug with Apple, but they closed it saying that it "works as intended".



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Code to silence the startup chime on Intel-powered Macs
Authored by: michelle_eris on Jan 16, '09 10:59:36AM

The easiest way to get around this problem (and it is a problem, but it doesn't happen with every file) is to use "Secure Empty Trash".



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Code to silence the startup chime on Intel-powered Macs
Authored by: Ilo on Jan 16, '09 12:37:56PM

You can also silence the startup chime for that particular startup by pressing and holding the mute button on the keyboard during the boot process.



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For PPC Users there is a prefpane
Authored by: tice on Jan 16, '09 01:10:31PM
The PrefPane Startup Sound does the same for PPCs and you can even control the volume.

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Code to silence the startup chime on Intel-powered Macs
Authored by: braintoniq on Jan 16, '09 09:05:14PM

Another fan of Startup Sound. It's worked for years and works perfectly on 10.5.6.



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Code to silence the startup chime on Intel-powered Macs
Authored by: jaguarz on Jan 16, '09 10:07:11PM
yeah... the preference pane "Startup Sound" has both intel and ppc versions which include a nice gui... for all you out there who are timid to use terminal commands, or for anyone who would like to be able to easily undo any changes to their system, Startup Sound is the way to go!

http://osxdaily.com/2007/01/03/startupsound-adjust-the-startup-sound-level/


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Code to silence the startup chime on Intel-powered Macs
Authored by: Natoi on Jan 17, '09 12:48:41AM

Used this on a early 2008 Macbook Pro 15". Now I have no sound whatsoever. Not even on my Windows Boot Camp section... The sound worked fine yesterday evening when I was watching a movie, put the lid down for the night and came back in the morning to find a completely mute computer. I've removed the files from /Library/Startupfiles and rebooted and shut down the computer all together. No help... Can anyone tell me how I might enable the sounds again?



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Code to silence the startup chime on Intel-powered Macs
Authored by: palahala on Jan 17, '09 02:06:17AM

I assume you mean /Library/StartupItems rather than /Library/Startupfiles? Removing these will only stop setting SystemStartupSound when you shutdown your computer -- as a workaround for the author's "because of my normal volume settings, my MacBook keeps resetting the chime volume automagically". So, removing these files will only stop setting SystemStartupSound to nothing when you shutdown, but will not restore its original value. Odd though that is seems to apply to all your sounds, not just the startup sound. Maybe Boot Camp somehow propagates the value.

Anyway, what did you already try? Hit the volume buttons, change Sound through System Preferences, reset PRAM and NVRAM (which in fact uses the sound, which you then might not hear the first time, but when not releasing the keys it will just reset again and maybe you'll then hear it it the second time)? Or maybe use one of the preference panes mentioned above?

On my Intel MacBook 10.5.6., on which I did NOT use this tip, I get:

sudo nvram SystemStartupSound
nvram: Error (-1) getting variable - 'SystemStartupSound'

So, I assume there's no default value for this setting. sudo nvram -xp reveals I do have SystemAudioVolume, but that was not used in this tip. Deleting SystemStartupSound might help, but I don't know:

sudo -d SystemStartupSound

Let us know!



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Code to silence the startup chime on Intel-powered Macs
Authored by: palahala on Jan 17, '09 02:18:12AM

Also note robg's comment: "It was written for 10.4, and 10.5 uses a different startup task mechanism, but this one should still work fine".

I've taken a look at the author's uninstall.sh script, and that also just removes the folder /Library/StartupItems/DebongIntel.

Did it in fact work after you applied the hint? Or did you never shutdown until you went to sleep at night?



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Much much simpler way...
Authored by: mario_grgic on Jan 17, '09 09:12:45AM

Edit your local shutdown script located in:

/etc/rc.shutdown.local

and append the following line:

/usr/sbin/nvram SystemAudioVolume=%80

If the /etc/rc.shutdown.local does not exist, create it and put the line above into it.



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Code to silence the startup chime on Intel-powered Macs
Authored by: flammable on Jan 17, '09 01:31:27PM

The chime is important, and you probably shouldn't disable it. The chime verifies that the basic internal components are working as they should.

It's not foolproof - if the system is muted, you won't hear a chime - but it's an important troubleshooting tool when things go horribly wrong.



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Startup chime on headphone out?
Authored by: sayling on Feb 09, '09 05:13:00AM

On my Mac Mini (C2D 2Ghz) the startup chime has always sounded on the internal speaker, never on the external speakers (analog electrical connection from 3.5mm headphone socket). It works well enough after startup, with all audio output going via the headphone mini-jack and nothing from the internal speaker.

On my PBG4, the startup chime came out on the external speakers and not the internal speakers once the mini-jack was connected.

Is there a way to enable the headphone output for startup on the Intel Mac Mini?

Sayling



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I can't believe no one knows about
Authored by: mario_grgic on Jun 20, '09 06:22:12AM

the simple way to do this. No need for custom preference pane or scripts or silly kludge solutions.

Simply edit the local shutdown script

sudo vi /etc/rc.shutdown.local

and append the following line

/usr/sbin/nvram SystemAudioVolume=%80

save the file, and you are done. If the file rc.shutdown.local does not exist create it.

To enable the chime, remove the line above from the startup file.



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Code to silence the startup chime on Intel-powered Macs
Authored by: tonytheodore on Apr 10, '10 10:22:46PM

That works well, thanks.

The only thing to note is that I had set SystemAudioVolume to "%b7" on a MacBook Air and "%b0" on a MacBook Pro. The way to check what these values should be is to run:

$ nvram SystemAudioVolume

while the machine is muted (F10).

Tony



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