How to set different audio output speakers for individual apps on Mac

Learn how to set up custom audio output preferences for specific apps on your Mac, allowing you to enjoy your music and media exactly how you want.

Audio output selection for individual apps on Mac

You can play a song or video on your Mac and select an available speaker by clicking the speaker icon in the top menu bar and picking an output. No big deal.

But what if you want to define specific rules for specific apps and only want audio from them to play via a specific speaker? For example, you may want to always listen to Spotify on your HomePod connected to your Mac. Likewise, you may want YouTube to always play through your AirPods, and audio from VLC to always play via your Mac’s built-in speaker.

On Windows PC, the built-in operating system lets you do this with relative ease. However, macOS lacks this feature. And thus, you will have to rely on third-party apps.

One such app is Audio Hijack, which lets you define output routes for each Mac app and select the speaker. This tutorial shows you how to do that.

Set the preferred audio output speaker on a per-app basis on Mac

Step 1: Change the security settings of your Mac

To run the Audio Hijack app, you will have to reduce the default security of your Mac. This involves going to Mac’s Recovery and choosing Reduced Security as opposed to the default Full Security. You can learn more about it on Apple Support for Apple silicon and Intel Macs with Apple T2 Security Chip.

If you’re ready to proceed, follow our separate guide on changing the startup security level of your Mac. Alternatively, you can also see a step-by-step tutorial on Audio Hijack’s developer website.

Reduced Security for Mac

Step 2: Route the audio output for each Mac app to different speakers

1) Go to Audio Hijack’s website and click Free Download. Double-click the zip file to open it if it hasn’t already.

Next, launch the Audio Hijack app on your Mac. You may have to attend to some alerts in System Settings and restart your Mac a couple of times.

The first time you open it, go ahead and install its audio handling component, ACE. After that, finish the short app tour until you reach the main screen.

2) Click New Session from the bottom left.

Click New Session in Audio Hijack

3) Double-click Blank.

Create an empty session in Audio Hijack

4) Drag the Application option from under the Sources heading and drop it on the empty left panel.

Capture audio from any application in Audio Hijack on Mac

5) Click Select an App on the Application tile and choose your desired application. I have selected Spotify.

Select an app in Audio Hijack on Mac

6) Now drag Output Device and drop it onto the left canvas.

Send audio to an output in Audio Hijack

7) Click the Output Device tile > Default System Output and select the desired output speaker. Depending on how many speakers are currently available on your Mac, they will all appear in the list here. It will include AirPlay-capable HomePod, Bluetooth AirPods, built-in speakers, monitor speakers, and others. Select one from the list.

Select speaker for app in Audio Hijack

8) Optional: You can customize other options such as setting the output volume, left & right channels, etc. You can also click the Info tab and give it a name.

Give your Audio Hijack rule a name

Click the red close button from the top left, and it will take you to the Session List screen. You can follow the above steps to create more rules.

9) Click Run next to all the rules.

Run created rules in Audio Hijack on Mac

10) Now, open the concerned app (like Spotify) and play something. It will play via the speaker you chose for it. Next, open another app like VLC and play something in it. You will again notice that the sound is routed only via the speaker you picked for this app.

Running sessions in Audio Hijack on Mac

Step 3: Be amazed by the app

I created three rules (for Spotify, Firefox, and VLC), opened all three apps, and played something in all of them:

  • Spotify sound was output only through my HomePod;
  • The media played in VLC only sounded through my monitor speakers;
  • The audio for YouTube videos played in Firefox only came through my AirPods (with a slight video-audio lag).

That way, I could play three things on my Mac at the same time, with the audio for all three outputting individually to separate speakers.

Playing three different media from three speakers on the same Mac

Step 4: Purchase a license

The free version of Audio Hijack is just a trial that lets you set up and explore the app. You can’t use the free version for meaningful listening as it will overlay extra noise after 10 minutes of use. But once you have given this app a spin and love its functionality, check out their website and upgrade to the pro version ($76) to remove this noise watermark.

Audio Hijack trial limitations after 10 minutes

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