I have been trying on and off for a fair while to edit the default Mail.app system sounds from their defaults. Ideally I'd like access to all my system sounds eventually, but Mail.app seems like a good start.

A link from LifeWire shows that you can duplicate your mail app and then overwrite the names but it seems clunky to me - does anyone know where the plist is that activates the sounds for Mail.app?


You can change the 'new message sound' in the mail preferences, as well as disable other sounds (send message 'swoosh' etc.). Granular control outside of that isn't possible via the GUI. See screenshot.

As per here Changing New Mail Sound in macOS Sierra, you can copy custom sounds to ~/Library/Sounds and they will show up as an option to select in Mail preferences.

One could then programmatically use the defaults command to select your custom sound via Terminal or script if you run the following command from within the folder "~/Library/Containers/com.apple.mail/Data/Library/Preferences":

defaults write com.apple.mail NewMessagesSoundName -string filename

where "filename" is the name of the file, without the extension, of what you copied to ~/Library/Sounds

enter image description here

  • Thanks, ideally I wanted to be able to manipulate all the default sounds via the terminal really – Scott Anderson Sep 9 '18 at 15:48
  • You should still be able to manipulate this via terminal 'defaults'l commands. The .plist for mail is ~/Library/Containers/com.apple.mail/Data/Library/Preferences/com.apple.mail.plist - you'll see the keys that need be to changed for mail sounds if you open via xcode - but again, only the options shown above are what's changeable – Hefewe1zen Sep 9 '18 at 15:52
  • Ok, is there literally no way to edit the file name of the sound it uses in the plist? Even when disabling csrutil? – Scott Anderson Sep 10 '18 at 17:18
  • the defaults write command will allow you to change the value. Iplease see my example in the answer – Hefewe1zen Sep 10 '18 at 23:19
  • You said "I am not sure if this would ultimately work but you can try!", well if you're not sure something works, then you probably shouldn't post it as part of the answer without first verifying whether or not it works! One thing is for sure though, it will not work if Mail is running. – user3439894 Sep 10 '18 at 23:39

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