The Terminal tabs in OS X can sometimes trigger a persistent "bell" condition where a bell icon appears in the title tab, and every time I navigate to that tab using cmd-tab, the alert sound occurs, and the bell icon fades away, and then whenever I change tabs again, the alert sound occurs again and the bell icon reappears. Switching screens can also trigger the same pair of alert sounds.

The upshot of all of this is that I can easily enter a condition where I'm hearing spurious alert noises many times per minute; it's irritating. Obviously, I can just close that particular tab, but this causes several problems--I many have long-running processes in the background of that tab, or a specific arrangement (the leftmost tab contains a particular job, for instance.

EDIT: I think I didn't make it clear that I don't want to disable the bell sound; I want it to occur when a bad thing happens. What I don't want is for a given Terminal tab to have a permanent error condition where every change to that tab sounds the bell.

Here's a movie:


Unfortunately, these movies don't include the irritating sound--I think Apple doesn't want to make it too easy to capture computer audio--but you can see the bell icon disappearing and reappearing, and imagine the bell occurring for both of these.

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    Something similar started happening for me when I upgraded to Catalina -- after a terminal bell sounding in a particular tab, the bell icon remains in the tab's title and will not go away even after foregrounding that tab.
    – Ether
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 17:51

2 Answers 2


Shell > Reset

This keeps it enabled, but clears the state.


Terminal > Preferences, Profiles > Advanced and disable Audible and Visual bell.

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    No, this just disables the bell altogether. I certainly want a bell when I hit a ctrl-G, or indeed when any error condition occurs. The problem is the persistent bell in the tab that makes a sound every time I change to or from that tab. I'll add a short movie. Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 12:42

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