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

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

(View all)
Avatar
3 weeks 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.
Rating: 5 Votes
Avatar
3 weeks 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.
Rating: 2 Votes
Avatar
3 weeks 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.
Rating: 2 Votes
Avatar
3 weeks 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.
Rating: 2 Votes
Avatar
3 weeks ago
Thank you! Having to adjust the volume from the screen menu system was getting tiresome. This is very helpful!
Rating: 1 Votes
Avatar
3 weeks ago
Oh thank you! I just picked up a new Mac mini and two 4K monitors with speakers (connected via DisplayPort) and it bugged the heck out of me that I had to adjust the volume either in app or with the hardware keys on the monitors.
Rating: 1 Votes
Avatar
2 weeks ago

Looks promising, except the feature we are discussing here doesn't seem to work on Mojave yet?

I use it to control audio volume of external speakers connected to a 4k monitor over DisplayPort on a 12" Macbook running Mojave.
I think they meant that you can't route sound from individual apps to different audio outputs on Mojave, but I never used this feature.
Rating: 1 Votes
Avatar
3 weeks ago

entirely ridiculous that all monitors do not come with built-in speakers


I wouldn't want a monitor with built-in speakers, because I'm certainly not willing to pay for some plastic piece of crap I didn't ask for. The video and the audio are two separate systems.
Rating: 1 Votes
Avatar
2 weeks ago
I'm on the fence about this solution, but I would like to control the volume from my Mac (as opposed to the speakers themselves).

I can control the volume output level of HDMI/DisplayPort audio without modifying Windows 10 from my PC. It works out of the box with the volume slider and volume keys on keyboard.
Rating: 1 Votes
[ Read All Comments ]