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 May 9 '13 at 22:53
  • This is seriously naff - how can there not be a free solution to this?? – geotheory Apr 3 '15 at 12:30
  • I will be happy to pay for one too – pathikrit Apr 3 '15 at 12:31
  • Also asked on SU - superuser.com/q/150304/978 – warren Nov 23 '16 at 15:38

12 Answers 12


A free and open-source solution is BackgroundMusic.

A nicer and paid solution is Rogue Amoeba's SoundSource

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    Not working on 10.15. Anyone have a working solution? – SwimBikeRun Apr 7 '20 at 23:41
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    @SwimBikeRun I can confirm is working on 10.15.4, just installed it today. – William Bello May 27 '20 at 0:57
  • BackgroundMusic harms you !! – Darwin OS X Feb 26 at 14:45
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    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 Mar 1 at 10:15

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 Apr 11 '14 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 Feb 2 '16 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 Dec 24 '16 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.


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

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

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

  • Will not install with Mavericks Xcode. =( – JVC Dec 22 '16 at 1:17
  • Did you copy and paste the install code from their Readme? – Chelsea Bridson Dec 22 '16 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 Dec 23 '16 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 Dec 31 '16 at 11:23

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 Jul 1 '20 at 18:35

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 Feb 26 at 14:15

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: alvinalexander.com/apple/itunes-applescript-examples-scripts-mac-reference [the form wouldn't let me submit more than 2 links so i had to make this inactive]

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    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 Nov 2 '14 at 13:34

While focused on the app.. OS X Mavericks:

Command+option+up/down arrows

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    In which applications does this work? – nohillside Mar 16 '14 at 9:46
  • Cmd + ctrl up/down changes volume in online music streaming, but that's not the same as the browser – geotheory Apr 3 '15 at 12:29

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

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    Doesn't address the actual question, this is just how to adjust the overall Mac volume. – JVC Feb 2 '16 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!


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