MacMost Now 260: Change Your System Alert Sound

You can change your system alert sound, even using a custom one that you create.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 260: Change Your System Alert Sound.

Hi this is Gary with MacMost Now. Today lets learn how to change your system alert sound. So the system alert sound is what plays when you try to do something you shouldn't be doing or something goes a little bit wrong. You hear it pretty often. So it could be fun to actually change it to something besides the default. There's several different sounds that are included with Mac OS10 but you could also make your own. So here in system preferences is where you would go to change this. You go to the sound preferences and here you see choose an alert sound. You go and choose from some of the defaults or you can actually choose one of your own. I'll show you how to do that in a minute. Other things you can do here is you can select the device to play the sound through. This is useful if you've got the speakers hooked up to your computer and you also have the internal speaker in your Mac. So you can choose for instance which ones if you've got more than one choice. You can choose the alert volume as well. So to create your own sound the first thing you need to do is make the sound. You can use GarageBand to do this or a tool like Audacity. You can record something or you can make something up. So you want to save it as an AIFF sound. In GarageBand that's saving in an uncompressed format. Once you have that you have to go to the finder. In the finder you'll see that you've got your user folder here and you've got library. Click on library and down in library look for sounds. In sounds is where you can put the file. So I put one called Bark.aif. Now you can also go ahead and put it on your hard drive level in library and put it in the sounds folder there. Now you notice the sound folder isn't there by default but if you create it and then put aif files in there they'll show up in your system alert sound choices as well. So if you wanted to create this in GarageBand what you would do is open up GarageBand and create a new loops project. And then once you're in there you can go ahead and add things to it. Now one place to get some stuff is in the sound effects. You click on the third button here you can look at effects, jingles, stingers, sound effects that type of thing. You can go into sound effects, say go into animals and you can see here at the bottom there's some choices like the bark choice, or choices that are a little weirder. And you can go ahead and drag these into your GarageBand project here. Now when you go to share what you want to do is export onto disk and you want to turn off compression and this will save it as an aif file, then save it and go ahead and choose where you want to save it and what you want to call it and you can save it directly into that sounds folder in the library folder or save it some where else in the collection and then drag the ones you wanna keep into that sounds folder. You can also go and hear and record your own voice. So you can go ahead and create a new track that is a real instrument track and once you create that you'll be able to go ahead and record your own voice by hitting the record button having the microphone turned on and experiment with recording the sounds or recording your own voice to use an alert sound. Another place to get sounds if of course the internet. You can search around for sounds for aif files all sorts of different collections. Find some sounds there and go ahead and bring those in. If they're not in an aif format you can always bring them into Audacity or drag and drop them into GarageBand and export them out again. Now you can also go ahead and use the same sounds in mail. All you need to do is open up mail. Go to mail preferences and click on general and then look for new mail sound right there and that's the sound that plays when new mail comes in. And you can set it to uh any of the defaults or the ones which you've chosen which are just off the screen on the bottom. So that's all for now. Until next time this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Comments: 4 Responses to “MacMost Now 260: Change Your System Alert Sound”

    10 years ago

    Thanks Gary, I’ve been trying to figure out how to do this for 6 months. Duh, it is so easy!

    10 years ago

    Hi Gary,

    I have been trying to figure out how to set my computer so it doesn’t make that loud “dada” on start up. I haven’t been able to figure it out thanks.

      10 years ago

      Three ways: 1. Hold down the mute button while starting up. 2. Lower the volume before shutting down. 3. Install the free StartupSound.prefPane extension.
      A 4th option is to ask yourself why you are starting up your Mac at all. Put it to sleep and wake it up instead. See episode 240.

    10 years ago

    Thanks Gary.

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