Once I plug headphones into my iMac I no longer have the option in the sound preferences panel to output audio to the built-in speakers. I have to unplug the headphones to get audio output through the built-in speakers. Since the plug is on the back of the display this is inconvenient. Does anyone know of an audio app that allows me to easily switch between built-in speakers and headphones for audio output?

  • 2
    If you don't find an app that will over-rule the hardware signal indicating to route the sound to the jack - you can get a Griffin iMic or similar product and keep things connected through USB and still retain software control of the sound.
    – bmike
    Aug 29, 2011 at 22:53
  • For some reason I thought SoundSource would do this, but you're right: it's one or the other. To be clear, did this change in Lion?
    – Andrew Vit
    Aug 30, 2011 at 6:07
  • No, works the same in Lion
    – nohillside
    Oct 4, 2011 at 18:05
  • You should consider adding that as an answer, @bmike. Oct 4, 2011 at 23:23
  • I have the same problem here, but I'm sure it can't be only due to hardware. I recently instaled Bootcamp with Win Vista and I can have sound in both headset and speakers at the same time...
    – user13697
    Nov 15, 2011 at 13:00

1 Answer 1


I think the condition has always been there. I believe plugging into the headphone jack physically disconnects the sound output from the speakers. I believe you will have to use bmike's suggestion to get the desired outcome.

  • If the speakers get physically disconnected when you plug in headphones, how does the startup chime play out of the speakers when headphones are plugged in.
    – user19346
    Feb 26, 2012 at 19:14
  • 2
    I believe this is done in software and is not just a physical re-routing of the audio. This is why you get independent volume control on each and when the system is under leavy load it might take a second or more for the audio to switch from one system to the other upon a plug/unplug. So theoretically it should be possible but this might be controlled at a very low driver level.
    – kLy
    Feb 26, 2012 at 20:32

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