RIP Mac startup chime

MacBook, coffee mug, and cactus

Updated on December 10, 2021

Last week’s Apple keynote gave us plenty of information about what the new MacBook Pro line is featuring (Touch Bar) and taking away (a lot of ports).

However, one thing that’s been taken away was a quiet one: the startup chime, a part of the Mac OS startup process since the Macintosh II. (However, prior Mac models had a generic startup beep.) The sound’s changed over the decades, but it’s been a part of every desktop and laptop Mac since the 80s. At least, until now.

The chimes signal that the Mac’s in physical working order, and are sometimes used for troubleshooting/diagnostics. It’s also been a way to make Macs a bit friendlier to users, and set them apart from Windows PCs.

The new MacBook Pros are designed to be powered on (if turned off) as soon as the lid is opened. (That’s similar to how my Chromebook works.) Doing away with the chime’s thought to make opening the lid quieter in public places or at offices.

It’s possible to bring the chime back (at least for now), as it’s merely silenced, not deleted. Entering a Terminal command can bring the old startup chime back, as well as disable the power-on-via-opening-the-lid function.

There’s no indication whether it’ll be ditched on future desktop Macs.

While I can see why Apple made these changes, from a nostalgia standpoint, it still feels disappointing. It might be a reminder of how Apple’s mobile device sales are more prominent nowadays than their computer sales. It also makes Macs feel (in a very small way) a bit more like PCs, despite that one can buy a decent PC for half the price of a MacBook. Granted, they opted for a Touch Bar instead of a touchscreen, so the differences between Macs and PCs aren’t completely gone yet.

History of Macs’ startup chimes

Here’s a YouTube video of the various Mac startup chimes. I came in as a Mac owner with chime #4 (the Quadra), but did use older Macs with chimes #2 and #3.

How do you feel about the startup chime going away? Any nostalgia for startup chimes or beeps?


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Anthony Dean

Anthony Dean is the owner of Diverse Tech Geek and Diverse Media Notes.

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