How to Use Your Mac's Media Keys to Adjust Speaker Volume on a DisplayPort, HDMI, or Thunderbolt Monitor

Tuesday November 20, 2018 6:13 AM PST by Tim Hardwick

If you connect your Mac to an external display, you may find that the Mac's on-screen and keyboard volume controls are disabled. That's because HDMI, DisplayPort, and Thunderbolt connections carry a fixed volume digital audio signal, so the external device (in this case, a monitor) controls the sound level.


This can be frustrating if the volume controls on your external display are concealed in the bezel or buried in a fiddly on-screen menu. Fortunately, it is possible to re-enable your Mac's native volume controls and use them to adjust the sound level coming out of your monitor's speakers. The steps below show how it's done, although you will need administrator privileges to follow them.

  1. Download the free SoundFlower extension (v2.0b2) from Github.

  2. double-click the SoundFlower.dmg file to mount it.

  3. Hold down the Ctrl key and left-click the Soundflower.pkg file, then choose Open from the contextual menu.

  4. If you see a dialog asking if you're sure you want to open it, click Open. If you see a dialog saying the package can't be opened, click OK, open System Preferences' Security & Privacy pane, and in the General tab click Open Anyway.

  5. Let the Soundflower installer continue and enter your password if necessary.
  6. Next, download the SoundflowerBed utility (v2.0), mount the .dmg file, and drag the flower icon to your Applications folder.

  7. Launch the SoundflowerBed utility.
  8. Click the SoundflowerBed icon in the menubar and select DisplayPort, Thunderbolt or HDMI as the output in the (2ch) list.

  9. Click the volume icon in the menu bar and choose Soundflower(2ch). You can also make this selection in the Sound System Preference pane.

You should now be able to adjust the volume of the speakers in your HDMI or DisplayPort monitor using the native media controls on your Mac.

Top Rated Comments

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18 months ago
I installed this once 10 years ago and it conflicted with other audio apps. It took me 5 years to figure out what the problem was and get rid of the driver (by finally doing a clean install). Never again.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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18 months ago
Make sense that because it's a digital signal it would be harder to adjust the "volume" but you would think there would be some CEC ('https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumer_Electronics_Control') like mechanism so the volume control on the system can adjust the monitor/external device volume.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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18 months ago

I installed this once 10 years ago and it conflicted with other audio apps. It took me 5 years to figure out what the problem was and get rid of the driver (by finally doing a clean install). Never again.


The need for this hack demonstrates Apple's lack of forethought both in its hardware and in its software.

I personally would not bother with this since it can cause more problems than it solves.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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16 months ago

And, it works with the standard Mac volume keys. The only thing that's not perfect is the volume range. When it's at the lowest volume, it's not quite as low as I might want it.


Just installed this and it seems to be working well for me. As BobMcBob mentioned the volume control range is not as expansive as I would prefer, but volume control from my keyboard is back, so I am happy.

It is on sale at the moment so I bought a license after downloading and installing the trial version.

Thanks for the tip!



Sorry for late reply, I don't visit macrumors often.
You can go lower than one notch of volume, hold Shift+Option+[your volume key]. It's stock Mac OS feature.

A similar problem is adjusting the brightness on an external monitor. The standard Mac brightness keys don't work. I installed Brightness Slider from the app store. It's not bad, but it doesn't use the normal brightness keys. You can set your own keyboard shortcut, but you can't use the normal brightness keys. Does anyone have a better solution for that?

I use free app called Lunar https://lunarapp.site
It works if your external monitor supports DDC (most of them do)
It mirrors your internal screen brightness level on your external screen, which is great if you have auto-adjust on.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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18 months ago
Thank you guys so much for this!

I've actually had Soundflower installed for nearly a decade for capturing system audio while screen recording. I'd never thought to use it like this. :oops:

I noticed a bit of a lag when adjusting the volume, but I don't think it carries over to other audio; lip syncing seems alright.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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18 months ago
Apple really should add native support for this in macOs. Every other OS (at least Linux and Windows) are able to adjust the volume when audio is delivered over HDMI/DP.
I’m waiting for this functionality to be added since forever...
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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