Quickly Switch Between Audio Outputs on macOS and Windows [Quick Tip]

If you have multiple sets of headphones or audio interfaces connected to your computer at the same time, it’s convenient to toggle between them swiftly. You might want to do this when switching from headphones to desktop speakers or for toggling between a professional audio interface and a consumer audio interface. Here’s how to quickly switch between audio outputs (and, for macOS, inputs) on all the major operating systems.

1. Make sure you can see the small speaker icon in the menu bar.

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If you do not see the speaker icon, navigate to “System Preferences -> Sound.”

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Click on the Output tab, and then tick the checkbox next to “Show volume in menu bar.”

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2. Hold down the Alt/Option key on your keyboard.

3. Click on the speaker in the status bar. You should see a list of available audio outputs listed.

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4. Click on the desired audio output to activate it. If you don’t see your desired audio output, go back to “System Preferences -> Sound” and see if it’s listed there. If not, you’ll need to reconnect the interface.

You may notice you can also change audio inputs in the same fashion, independent of your audio output.

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1. Click on the small speaker in the taskbar near the clock.

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If you don’t see that speaker icon, right-click on your clock and select “Customize notification icons.”

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Then, scroll down and click “Turn system icons on or off” under Notification Area.

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Finally, turn the slider next to “Volume” to the on position.

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2. Click the small disclosure arrow next to your current audio interface.

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3. Choose the desired audio interface from the list.

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Unfortunately, Windows 7 does not have a native capability for quickly switching audio outputs. However, with the help of a freeware app called Audio Switcher, you can add the capability to your system tray.

1. Download and install Audio Switcher.

2. Double-click “AudioSwitcher.exe” to open the application.

3. Click the Settings tab.

4. Tick the checkboxes next to “Close to Tray” and “Enable quick switch mode.”

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5. Close the window.

6. Right-click on the Audio Switcher icon in your system tray.

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7. Choose your desired audio interface.

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If you have multiple audio interfaces, you can use built-in system commands in macOS and Windows 10 to toggle between them, or use Audio Switcher on Windows 7.

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