I connected my earphone and when I tried to change the volume, I got a prompt like

enter image description here

Except that there was a small "cancel" icon in it (like this). I could not change the volume. I had to unplug and plug again the earphone.

What does that mean?

OSX Yosemite. Macbook Pro Retina Display, Mid 2014 model.

  • Does the audio start to work after you unplug and plug the earphone back in? Also, do you have any other devices such as a Thunderbolt or HDMI monitor plugged into your computer? Lastly, Go to Apple Menu -> About This Mac -> System Report -> Audio. Do you have any devices (such as Intel High Definition Audio) listed for driving sound?
    – smoooosher
    Apr 24, 2015 at 22:42
  • 2
    Yes, it starts to work after re-plugging it. No, I don't have other such devices. I do see an Intel High Definition Audio under System Report, yes.
    – Saturn
    Apr 24, 2015 at 22:57
  • That shows up when system thinks the internal volume has been replaced with the external (the device) volume control.
    – Ruskes
    Apr 24, 2015 at 23:05
  • @Buscar웃 well, that would be true, yes. But why would it block me from changing the volume? It is until I re-plug it that it will finally let me change it.
    – Saturn
    Apr 24, 2015 at 23:07
  • good question, as said, it gets confused thinking the external device is the master volume control. What kind of plug are you using (the Apple kind?)
    – Ruskes
    Apr 24, 2015 at 23:11

2 Answers 2


It means that you cannot change the volume for the selected output device. For example, if you connect your mac to a TV using a HDMI cord, you will not be able to control the TV's volume with your mac. You'll have to use the TV's remote instead.

This shouldn't ever happen when you connect something into the headphone jack though. Perhaps you have a faulty set of headphones?


It means that you cannot control volume for that output device.

Usually I solve this issue going into sound preference panel and changing the output device to speakers and back to headphones. Now your volume control should work as expected.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .