My 13" MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is connected to my Apple Thunderbolt Display via a genuine Apple Thunderbolt to USB-C adapter. The audio from the MacBook is piped through to the built-in speakers in the Apple display.

Music, movies, YouTube videos… all that audio comes out of the display's speakers. What's weird is that certain system sounds come out of the MacBooks speakers… like Messages notifications and the screenshot camera click sound. What's more, is that I can't seem to adjust the volume of the sounds coming from the MacBook's speakers. Adjusting the volume on the MacBook's Touch Bar and on my Apple Bluetooth Keyboard only affect the Apple Display volume, not the MacBook.

This is a problem, of course, and quite annoying. I've done all of the typical troubleshooting things: restarted, unplugged and replugged, set, unset, and reset the output destination in the Sound preference pane.

Any ideas?

1 Answer 1


Follow these steps to solve this issue on a Mac running macOS 10.12:

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Go to Sound
  3. Click 'Sound Effects'
  4. Set Play sound effects through: to Selected sound output device
  5. Optionally: Select 'Output' and set your desired sound output device (e.g. your external display).

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  • Brilliant!!! That's the answer! I had no idea you could even set sound effect to a different output location. Thanks!
    – Sam
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 14:58

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