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How To Enable the Microphone on Mac

Microphone

Picture this – you are about to hop on to an important meeting, you speak up, but no one can hear you. What gives? Well, chances are that the microphone on your Mac is disabled. This can be due to a multitude of reasons.

Quick Answer

While there is no one size fits all formula, here are all the methods you can employ to enable your microphone on Mac:

1) Enabling through system privacy.
2) Enabling through sound/input menu.
3) Force enabling your microphone.

That said, this article covers everything you need to know about enabling your microphone on Mac.

Enabling Through System Privacy

Apple is known for keeping the macOS kernel tight and secure. With that said, the user’s privacy is also of utmost importance. So, the microphone is not enabled by default in most applications.

While this can be annoying if you are late for a meeting and can’t seem to have your microphone work, it is quite easy to get it back up and running again. 

So, here’s how you can enable a microphone on Mac using System Preferences:

  1. Click on the Apple icon and head to “System Preferences.”
  2. After doing so, click on “Security and Privacy.”
  3. Now, click on “Privacy.”
  4. After that, click on “Microphone.”
  5. You will now be met with a plethora of applications that can use your microphone. Enable or disable them as you see fit.
Info

The orange dot you see at the top of your taskbar indicates that your microphone is currently being used by an application. You can click on the icon to find out exactly which application is using your microphone.

Enabling Through the Sound Menu

If you’ve just set your laptop up and can’t seem to use your microphone, chances are that it isn’t enabled from the get-go. No worries, though. Enabling an input device such as a microphone doesn’t take long.

Here’s how you can enable your microphone from the sound menu on your Mac:

  1. Click on the Apple icon and head to “System Preferences.”
  2. Now, head on to “Sound.”
  3. Find the “Input” tab at the top and click on it.
  4. Now, click on “Internal Microphone,” which has a built-in type.
  5. After doing so, change the input volume to max or whatever level you prefer (we like it at 80%).
    Image 30
  6. Now, say something through the microphone. The input bars below should have some movement indicating that your microphone works.
Warning

Setting your input volume very loud won’t harm your microphone. But, it will cause a lot of crackling which can lead to a significant decline in the overall timbre of your audio.

If your microphone does not seem to work even after changing your input volume, there’s a high chance that ambient noise reduction is glitching out, which might confuse your voice as background noise (ouch). 

To remedy that, all you need to do is disable ambient noise reduction, and you should be good to go. If that still doesn’t fix it, you’ll need to move your input volume slider from 0 to max after disabling noise reduction.

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Are You Selecting the Right Microphone?

If you ever connected an external microphone or fiddled around with your sound settings, chances are that an application has changed your default input device. Once that happens, if that device isn’t connected, no input will be picked up.

And, since that device is set as the default, your Mac won’t automatically switch to your on-board microphone, thereby leaving it disabled. So, whether you want to enable an external or internal microphone, make sure that you have selected the right device. Here’s how you can check:

  1. Head back to the “Input” tab as mentioned above.
  2. This time, hover over to the left side of the input screen and select your primary device.
  3. If you aren’t sure which one is, test out every microphone until you land on one that picks up your voice.
  4. Once you do, adjust the input volume to your liking.
Info

If you are using an external microphone with your Mac, we recommend not turning on ambient noise reduction. This is because most external microphones have a carotid pickup pattern and already do a great job reducing ambient noise. So, turning the option on might lead to your microphone not picking up your voice.

Force Enabling Your Microphone

If the worse happens and all these methods still do not end up enabling the microphone on your Mac, there are two methods that can force enable the microphone on your Mac. Note that they aren’t bound to work as they rely on macOS not activating your microphones due to a software glitch.

Method #1: Enable Dictation

Huh? Dictation? How does that enable your microphone? Well, simple – dictation is a service offered by Apple that enables your microphone by default. So, if there’s a systemic issue that is plaguing your laptop, this will resolve it.

Here’s how you can turn on dictation to enable your microphone on Mac:

  1. Click on the Apple icon and head to “System Preferences.”
  2. Now, head to “Keyboard.”
  3. Once there, move to the “Dictation” tab and turn it “ON.”
    Image 32

Method #2: Resetting Your Temporary Settings (PRAM)

Your PRAM is used to store temporary information on your Mac. Without getting very technical, you might sometimes end up changing your settings so that they may be inaccessible through System Preferences.

Warning

Resetting your PRAM may lead to you losing a few system preferences and settings that you didn’t want to. So, use this as a last resort and proceed with caution!

In these cases, resetting your PRAM may end up helping you out. Here’s how:

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Now, turn on your Mac but hold the following keys: Command + Alt + P + R.
  3. Hold these keys down for 30 seconds, and your Mac should restart.

Summary

By following all these methods, you should now have successfully enabled your microphone on a Mac. If nothing still seems to be happening, we recommend checking whether there’s a hardware fault that may just lead to your microphone not working.

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