How to switch audio output and input sources on Mac

In this tutorial, we will show you how to change the audio input and output devices on your Mac from System Settings, as well as doing that quickly from the top menu bar.

Audio output and input on Mac

What are audio input and output sources on Mac?

In simple terms, audio input signifies the microphone that’s set to pick up what you speak. On a MacBook, by default, it will be the built-in internal microphone. And if you have connected a device like AirPods or a webcam, then their microphone can work as the input device. You can also get dedicated microphones that will record your audio in high-quality.

Audio output is the speaker where the sounds from your Mac play. It could be the internal speaker of your MacBook, Mac mini, Mac Studio, iMac, or any wired or wireless speaker connected to it like AirPods, Bluetooth buds, HomePod, etc.

Set the input and output audio source on Mac

  1. Open System Settings and click Sound.
  2. Choose an available device under the Output heading. The options here depend on the compatible devices connected to your Mac. Once you make your pick, your Mac’s audio will come from this selected speaker.
  3. Next, click Input and pick the microphone you want to use as the input source. Now, whether it’s for using Siri, Dictation, voice search, video calls, or recording audio, your Mac will use this selected microphone as the voice input device.
Customize sound settings in Mac System Settings

Quickly change the audio input and output source from the menu bar

  1. Open System Settings and click Control Center.
  2. Set the Sound icon to Always Show in Menu Bar. After this, you will see a tiny speaker icon in your Mac’s top bar. The icon here may be different depending on which speaker is connected. For example, for AirPods, you will see their tiny symbol. And for other headphones, you may see a headphone icon.
  3. To change the audio output, click the speaker icon and pick one of the available options.
  4. And to change the audio input, click the speaker icon in the menu bar while holding the Option key. It will reveal the list of available built-in, connected, or possible devices (like your iPhone) that can be used as a microphone. Pick one from here.
Change Output and Input devices from Mac menu bar

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