How do I add a custom alert sound in macOS Sierra? I've made some sounds I want to use in a variety of applications but when I try to add them to the /System/Library/Sounds folder, it says The operation can’t be completed because you don’t have the necessary permission. I also get the same message trying to add myself to the permissions on the Get Info window.

  • Okay I have System Integrity Protection already disable and why the file copied just with sudo so I've added instruction to disable/enable System Integrity Protection. Dec 4, 2016 at 3:55
  • dragging and dropping into sound folder (/Users/< username >/Library/Sounds/), won't necessarily work. I tried to do this and it would not let me. Then I realized my sound personal sound files were 16 bit and the OS's are 24. I'm sure that's the reason. If I convert them to 24 bit it should work. Anyone?
    – user260271
    Oct 19, 2017 at 5:18

3 Answers 3


Copy the sound file to ~/Library/Sounds, which is in your Home folder not /System/Library/Sounds in the root of the Macintosh HD. The sound file will then show in System Preferences > Sounds > Sound Effects for you to select as the alert sound.

Note: To expose the Library folder within your Home folder, click Finder > Go > press the option key and select Library.

Update to address comment:

First you need to disable System Integrity Protection.

  1. Reboot the Mac and hold down commandR keys simultaneously after you hear the startup chime, this will boot macOS into Recovery Mode
  2. When the macOS Utilities screen appears, click the Utilities menu, at the top of the screen instead, and choose Terminal.
  3. Type the following command into Terminal then press enter:

    csrutil disable
  4. You’ll see a message saying that System Integrity Protection has been disabled and the Mac needs to restart for changes to take effect

  5. Reboot the Mac.

After copying the file(s) to /System/Library/Sounds you'll need to enable System Integrity Protection using csrutil enable following the steps above.

With System Integrity Protection disabled, then to copy the sound file(s) to /System/Library/Sounds you'll needed to use sudo with cp in Terminal.


cd /System/Library/Sounds
sudo cp /path/to/custom_sound.aiff .

Note that is a . at the end of the command, so as to copy the file into the current directory. You'll be prompted for an Administrator password when using sudo and when you type the password you'll not see any response as the typing of the password is hidden. Just type the password and press enter for the command to execute.

  • I should have mentioned above that I have the sounds installed for me but I want them installed so every user will use them. That's why I was trying to copy them to the system's sound folder. Dec 4, 2016 at 3:16
  • Thanks for your detailed response. I will try it out but I have at least partially disabled SIP already so I can use TotalFinder. I have to go back and reread their directions so I don't mess something with Total Finder which is working for me. Thaks much though, Dec 4, 2016 at 16:34
  • Security concerns notwithstanding, I would leave SIP off. You'll probably need to replace the sounds again after installing updates, and redoing the whole SIP rigamarole will get old. Aug 7, 2017 at 18:49
  • If you already have Settings open, you may need to close it and re-open it.
    – Carl G
    Jul 4, 2019 at 16:56
  • You should not have to disable system integrity protection if you are putting the sounds in ~/Library/Sounds. Make sure to use an AIFF file and restart System Preferences.app May 26, 2020 at 23:14

From Apple level 9 user - an easy answer and fix for some reason not out on the net...

Open a Finder window, hold down option key and click GO.... GO>Library>Sounds (double click to open sounds- the folder will be empty if you have not added any personal sounds) then drag and drop .aiff sounds.

  • 4
    What exactly is an "Apple level 9 user? That's a new one.... As for your answer, you provided nothing that wasn't already provided.
    – Allan
    Feb 3, 2017 at 3:00
  • @Allan Probably an Apple Forums level 9 user (which is the highest level AFAIK)
    – Oion Akif
    Aug 7, 2017 at 15:12
  • this works on high sierra. to do without the mouse from finder: [command][shift][g] ~/Library/Sounds [enter]
    – Tomachi
    Oct 30, 2018 at 7:56

On macOS Sierra

You don't have to disable anything! /Users/< username >/Library/Sounds/_______.aiff It should be empty. Drag and drop your .AIFF file there then open System Preferences/Sounds, then click the Sound Effects tab, and it should be there.

You must log in to answer this question.

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