I recently switched from PC to Mac and one thing I miss is Windows' application-level volume control (i.e. mute Firefox, turn up iTunes, turn down Skype etc). How can I achieve the same on a Mac? Or better yet, I want volume settings based on location (using HTTP location API or WiFi network name) and time of day or day of week etc.

  • FYI - I'm not aware of any way to control volume on a tab-level.
    – TJ Luoma
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 22:53
  • This is seriously naff - how can there not be a free solution to this??
    – geotheory
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 12:30
  • I will be happy to pay for one too
    – pathikrit
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 12:31
  • Also asked on SU - superuser.com/q/150304/978
    – warren
    Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 15:38
  • 1
    honest question: really macos doesn't have this built in? Is there a way to do it without downloading anything?
    – Sebastian
    Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 20:28

13 Answers 13


A free and open-source solution is BackgroundMusic.

A nicer and paid solution is Rogue Amoeba's SoundSource

  • 2
    Not working on 10.15. Anyone have a working solution? Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 23:41
  • 1
    @SwimBikeRun I can confirm is working on 10.15.4, just installed it today. Commented May 27, 2020 at 0:57
  • BackgroundMusic harms you !!
    – BabyBoy
    Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 14:45
  • 1
    How does BackgroundMusic "harm you"? Anyway, I've installed and it doesn't work, the sliders do nothing to the audio. I'm on High Sierra 10.13.6 so it should work, since, according to their homepage, it only has issues with Big Sur.
    – OMA
    Commented Mar 1, 2021 at 10:15
  • 2
    Looks like BackgroundMusic is EoL and another Company is shilling their product at that domain
    – JGurtz
    Commented Jul 13, 2021 at 17:58

Detour is no longer under development, and doesn't work in MacOSX 10.5+

Hear is a rather expensive utility ($49.95) and has a number of other audio "Pro" features.

Jack is a low-latency audio server written originally for GNU/Linux and I believe can change volume on a per-application basis. And it's free.

  • There's an alternative UI for Jack by the name of QjackCtl. A compiled binary can be fetched here.
    – user36018
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 18:42
  • Maybe it's changed, but I'm seeing Hear is $19.99. May give it a try since SoundBunny apparently won't work with an external audio interface.
    – JVC
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 18:23
  • Oh incidentally, I could not get Jack to do any volume controls at all, only audio routing. It doesn't seem to me that it can do any per-application volume control, but if anyone knows differently I'd love to be pointed to instructions, I was unable to find any.
    – JVC
    Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 6:40

SoundBunny ($9.99) also provides this function. Supports 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8

SoundBunny by Prosoft Engineering

Update: As pointed out below by Steve Moser SoundBunny cannot change the volume of Sandboxed applications.


If you have Xcode installed, you can use BackgroundMusic. Xcode is required to build the binaries.

  • Will not install with Mavericks Xcode. =(
    – JVC
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 1:17
  • Did you copy and paste the install code from their Readme? Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 18:52
  • Yes, first I am greeted by WARNING: Your version of Xcode (6.2) may not be recent enough to build Background Music. and when I accept this and run anyway, it fails with ERROR: Install failed at line 196 with the message: A build command failed. Probably a compilation error. Failed command: sudo /usr/bin/xcodebuild -project BGMDriver/BGMDriver.xcodeproj -target Background Music Device -configuration Release RUN_CLANG_STATIC_ANALYZER=0 DSTROOT=/ clean install
    – JVC
    Commented Dec 23, 2016 at 3:57
  • It's a long way behind master, but we have a branch 10.9Support that I think should build with Xcode 6.2. IIRC, app volumes should work on that branch. You could also try passing OTHER_CFLAGS="-Wno-error" to xcodebuild, which turns off warnings-as-errors.
    – freshtop
    Commented Dec 31, 2016 at 11:23

Just found http://volumemixer-app.com/ it's very similar to the one found on windows.

  • BAH... requires at least Yosemite?? Suck.
    – JVC
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 18:09
  • 2
    And it's expensive! Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 12:16

Rogue Amoeba's SoundSource utility does exactly this, and more.


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  • Thank you! This is great! Will add to accepted answer
    – pathikrit
    Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 14:15
  • It will be nice to mention that it costs a fortune for answers like this. Don't get me wrong the app is great actually.
    – Willa
    Commented May 9, 2022 at 14:37
  • @Willa I know times are hard, but it's $49. I guess it depends how much you value having this functionality, instead of manually changing the volume.
    – benwiggy
    Commented May 9, 2022 at 16:52

Here's a possible workaround, for a subset of use cases, that doesn't require any new software.

We use Slack at work, and I like to play iTunes kinda loud (in my headphones). Sometimes I was missing Slack audible "bings".

Just fyi that you can set iTunes volume lower in the iTunes UI, and then set the overall system volume in upper right system menu reasonably high, so that relatively the non-iTunes notifications will be noticeable.


  • iTunes volume can bet set independently of other sounds, WITHIN the iTunes UI
  • And then the overall volume in the upper right controls the combination of everything.

I suspect this works in other apps that have an independent volume control.

Note: I see some possibly similar answers with negative votes, but I've taken the time to explain how it works, and clearly disclosed that it's a subset/workaround to what was asked, so please don't ding me for this answer.

This is one of those things that's "obvious" to gurus, but not obvious to the rest of the folks using Mac.


I just figured out how to do this on macOS Sierra. I was playing Roblox, and I wanted to watch a YouTube video in the background, but mute Roblox. So I tried using Siri and just saying "Mute Roblox" did the trick. I honestly didn't believe that it would work, but there you are.

  • I just tried this in Catalina, and all it did was mute all sound, not just from one app.
    – Ian Newson
    Commented Jul 1, 2020 at 18:35

I also found Sound Control by Static Z Software. I've personally not used it so YMMV.

  • I just installed Sound Control. In addition to changing the volume per application, it allows you to set custom keyboard shortcuts to change the volume. This enables me to set to volume for an output that Apple does not provide volume controls for: the Toslink digital out.
    – Hobbes
    Commented Mar 31, 2023 at 19:11

I use Butler & USB Overdrive to setup key commands and map media keys (play/pause/skip back+fwd/volume/mute) to control iTunes & Spotify, as well as other system wide controls. Regular in-app key commands can be setup in the Mac OS System Prefs -> Keyboard -> Application Shortcuts.

While these will give you more control via key commands when you're working in the app, they won't work if the specified app is in the background. So if you want to change the volume of iTunes or Spotify, skip tracks, or pause while you are working in another app, these 2 apps will allow you to do that. Both apps provide built-in basic iTunes controls, but I had to use AppleScript to control Spotify.

Here are some Applescript examples that can be used for these types of functions in both of these apps: Alvin Alexander: iTunes AppleScript examples (command examples).

  • 2
    This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post.
    – nohillside
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 13:34

While focused on the app.. OS X Mavericks:

Command+option+up/down arrows

  • 5
    In which applications does this work?
    – nohillside
    Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 9:46
  • Cmd + ctrl up/down changes volume in online music streaming, but that's not the same as the browser
    – geotheory
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 12:29

Control+Command+Up/Down Arrows works for me Mac OS 10.9.5

  • 7
    Doesn't address the actual question, this is just how to adjust the overall Mac volume.
    – JVC
    Commented Feb 2, 2016 at 18:10

On mac, with i tunes the command is cmd and the UP arrow, this also works for divx, vlc ext, with the internet, just use the volume controls F11 / F12.

No need to spend monies on silly apps!

  • 11
    That's not what was asked. Commented May 9, 2013 at 8:54

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