For example, I would like for iTunes to play thru my iMac's speakers, but iChat's notifications thru my headphones.

  • Welcome to Ask Different! I've edited this question to apply to more situations so that it isn't so narrow. It would also be good if you could update the question with a little more info, like model of your receiver. Thanks! Oct 3 '11 at 1:07
  • 1
    Although I did this using Airfoil, is there a way to do it without external apps?
    – Marcel M.
    Oct 3 '11 at 2:29
  • I would like to do the same thing! I have a USB digital coax output going to a DAC. I would like to send the audio from any one app, iTunes, Pandora, Chrome, etc., to the USB digital coax, and then have the rest of the sound continue to come out through the internal speakers on my MacBook Pro. Has anyone found a way to do this? I know you can do it with Airfoil + Airfoil Speakers, but it introduces a couple seconds of lag. I want something direct, like an audio switchboard, but I don't want to pay more than $30 or so.
    – orange80
    Oct 29 '11 at 0:56

If the software you're using doesn't support specifying an an audio output, you'll have to rely on a third-party utility. Someone else already mentioned Ambrosia's WireTap products, but there is one other I'm aware of: Audio Hijack by Rogue Amoeba. At $32, it beats the pants off WireTap for price.

Update for 2020
Audio Hijack is current, but now $70.
A simpler yet still effective solution targeted towards this very use-case by the same company is now SoundSource & is about half the price.
[Prices [& tax] vary by territory]

There's also a piece of software called SoundSiphon by Static Z Software that provides the same functionality as Soundflower, plus single-application audio capture. Priced at $29.

*Update for 2020
Soundflower no longer includes Soundflowerbed, which was the component allowing this type of routing.

Unfortunately, there are no free utilities for this. Not even Soundflower can capture audio from individual pieces of software. I think Rogue Amoeba's relies on the same underlying magic that allows them to hijack audio from individual pieces of software for their AirPlay utility AirFoil (which allows you to route any application's audio to any AirPlay device, as well as any device running their AirFoil Speakers app).


For iTunes specifically, you can install shairport-sync via macports. If you run it as

shairport-sync -- -n 'your desired output device'

This will appear as a fake airplay audio server that you can connect to in iTunes (it's name will match your computer's hostname by default), which will output to whatever audio device you set it to. If you connect iTunes to the airplay server, iTunes is able to play to a different device then the rest of your computer.

  • This is just what I want. I actually installed shairport-sync on a Raspberry Pi box which is connected to a pair of loud speakers. So now I can direct Apple Music audio on my Mac to the loud speakers while play other audio through the built-in devices. Very nice.
    – gpanda
    Nov 9 at 13:46

The easiest way to do this depends on the application supporting it;

Some applications have a sound output (and input) picker that allows you to choose the output device, like the official Last.fm app.

Last.fm Application Preferences Screen

(My apologies for the poor example considering I only have one output source.)

If an application is written to support it, you can simply change the device as shown above. Otherwise you'll have to rely on premium (paid) apps, such as one of Ambrosia SW's "Wiretap" series of apps. Though those are pricy, $69 for WireTap Studio and $129 for WireTap Anywhere.

  • As an aside, I feel like there could be some trivial 'helper' app that could change this setting for apps that don't otherwise let you pick it. But I certainly don't know this for certain. Oct 29 '11 at 2:21

I think this free app should do the trick. https://www.rogueamoeba.com/loopback/

  • Free version is considered trial and will lower audio quality after 15 minutes of continuous playback routed through the app. But for the purposes OP specified (iChat notifications, etc.) it shouldn't matter.
    – omranK
    Mar 10 at 0:45

After some research I found the following apps

Stated with the current price:

Features that both apps have

  • Set different app output to different sound levels and to different output devices
  • Add sound effects / equalizer per app output
  • Support Mac volume keys (the uppermost key row) for all kind of output devices (which does sometimes not work with the native solution)
  • Menu bar access

Additional features per app

Sound Control

  • TouchBar support


  • Recording
  • Recording levels in the menu bar
  • Even more sophisticated UI modes (floating window, etc)

I tried this to stream each app output to different sound channel


  • 1
    This merely duplicates an answer from six years ago, but with far less detail.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 13 '20 at 11:21

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