How to Setup External Microphone in Mac

While there are tons of different kind of microphone available all over the world today, theoretically speaking, nearly all of them can be used on your Mac to help you talk to your loved ones on Skype, or to record your voice for any purpose whatsoever. Newer Macs do ship with a built-in microphone, but many people live or chat in places where there is a lot of background noise, and using an external microphone can give the amount of privacy that you want. The problem is nearly 50% of all external mics fail to work exactly right, just out of the box.

Fortunately, it’s very easy to get your external microphone to work with your Mac. Here’s a quick run down on how to set up external microphone in Mac.


Get your microphone out, and plug it in your Mac’s USB or audio line-in port, depending on which type of connection your microphone uses. Once you plug in your microphone, your Mac should recognize it immediately.

There’s a fair chance that you tried looking for the microphone port on your new Mac, but couldn’t find one. That’s because Apple has removed the dedicated audio line in port that was present on Macbook Pros released prior to 2012. The Macbook Air never had a microphone jack when it was released back in 2008, and Apple still hasn’t included one despite requests from various consumers.

You won't find a microphone port on newer Macs.

Most microphones use a audio line-in cable to connect with the PC/Mac. If you’re using one similar to the one mentioned above, simply plug it in your Mac’s headphone port. Apple has combined the audio line-in and audio line-out port on its latest Macs, into one headphone jack.

With that done, we’ll now need to tweak your apps so that they use your plugged-in external microphone instead of the default, built-in mic. We’ll be showing you how to do it on Skype and Quicktime , but the process is pretty much same for any app out there.

First, open up Skype. Next, open up the Preferences window. This can easily be done by clicking “Skype” in the menu bar, and then selecting “Preferences”.


In the Preferences windows, click on the “Audio & Video” tab. and you will see a drop-down menu. It will say “Built-in Microphone”, change it to your external microphone. That’s it, you’ve now set up your external mic to work with Skype.


Quicktime is the easiest of all here, as it’s audio settings can be edited directly in the screen recording window.

To change your microphone’s settings in Quicktime, simply navigate to the “Menu Bar -> File -> New Screen Recording”. Once done, you’ll see a white arrow appear on the right side, which will show a drop-down of available microphones you choose from when clicked.


From the same menu, you can also change the video quality and the location where the video file will be created.

That’s all there is to setting up your mic on Quicktime.

You can use the “Sound” pane in System Preferences to change your audio input device. To do this, open “System Preferences” and click on the “Sound” icon.

setting-up-mic-mac-system preferences

Once you have opened the Sound section, you can see all audio devices you have connected to your Mac. Simply click on the one you want to select. System Preferences will also list what type of connection the particular audio device uses, such as USB, audio line in or built in. You can also use the “Input volume” slider to change the selected microphone’s sensitivity or toggle. Remember to use “ambient noise reduction” if your microphone has that feature.

setting-up-mic-mac-sound preferences

A faster way to quickly switch your audio input device is to hold down the “Option” key and click on the sound icon in the menu bar, instead of the slider to control your Mac’s volume you normally see when clicking there, you will see a list of all audio output and input devices, just click the one you want to make the selected audio device.