When i try to reduce my mac book volume it suddenly shows that this isn't possible, even the icon in the menu bar is (grey inactive)
This happens sometimes since i installed lion os
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I have experienced this issue starting with my new install of Lion. I haven't been able to find the cause of the issue but I do have a quick way to reset the audio system and get back volume control.
Open Activity Monitor (Its in Applications/Utilities)
Make sure it is set to All Processes, look for coreaudiod, click "Quit Process" then "Quit". Wait a few seconds and you should have volume control back.
If your a terminal buff a quick
sudo killall coreaudiod should whip it into shape.
The first thing to check is the selected output device in System Preferences. To do that, open System Preferences and click on "Sound".
Next, go through each of the tabs to verify that you don't see any obvious settings. I've seen this before on Snow Leopard, and although I'm now on Lion, I don't think this changed much.
I don't remember what the setting were, but it was fairly obvious to me what to change.
I personally tried most of the listed above. What I ended up doing before I did anything too crazy (i'm not super techy) is I just put in my earbuds again and took them out. I didn't have a read light going near the headphone jack, but it did the job. Now I have control again! I hope that helps you, my friends!