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Travis, Mac-Trained Product Designer
Category: Mac
Satisfied Customers: 759
Experience:  19+ Years of Mac Experience, BSA in Design and 6 Years of Mac Training from University of Cincinnati
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Macbook computer volume is very low

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I get very low volume from my Macbook computer. It's currently running 10.4.11.
Output volume under system preferences is at max.
One help page online suggested going to Utilities and opening Audio MIDI setup. I did this, and under output, the Master Stream and Master Volume slider is greyed out. The Master Volume slider is very low.
Is there any way to change this or restore factory audio settings?
Master Stream and Master Volume Slider grayed out is normal in Audio Midi Setup.

Have you recently had anything plugged into your headphone jack? If so, look in the jack and see if there is a red light on.

Next go to System Preferences / Sound / Output. Is the Internal Speakers selected for output? Confirm that the output volume is all of the way up.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
No, the light is off inside the headphone jack and the output volume in preferences is at maximum.

As for connecting anything recently, I occasionally use headphones, but this has been a problem for some time. I do get some audio, but maximum volume is so low that when playing something where there is average background noise I cannot make out speech.
Another question, did the volume on the internal speakers change after an event occured or have they been this way since purchase. The MacBook is notorious for having very low quality internal speakers. Or does the low volume problem occur when using headphones or external speakers as well?

If it works fine in headphones and external speakers and the System Preferences are not showing the ports active it is possible that the problem is just the MacBook speakers. Do you have another MacBook to compare the volume to?

If the volume is low in headphones and external speakers as well as the internal speakers, then there may be an issue with the OS. The first thing to do would be to try it in a new admin user account.
Go to System Preferences / Accounts and create a temporary admin account to see if the issue is occuring system wide or is user specific This will help narrow down the troubleshooting.
Create this temporary account by clicking on the + button. Make sure you make it an admin account. You may have to click the "lock" in the bottom left corner first though. Once you have this new account created, log in to it and test your issues there. Let me know if the issue occurs here as well.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Sorry, I should have mentioned this earlier but the reason I don't think it's just bad speakers is that the problem also varies. One time the volume went up dramatically when I quit a media program I use called VLC, but became low again when I rebooted. The problem is worst when using my browser and iTunes.
Just now I made a temporary admin account as you suggested, which caused the volume to go back up again.
If the volume is up in the new user, then there must be a conflict somewhere.

First of all, I would suggest you run some general maintenance on the computer. It is an obvious square-one approach. I normally suggest this first because it is good practice plus if we dig too deep into a problem and simple measures could have repaired it in the beginning we'll be kicking ourselves later... This is going to be a long email so I suggest printing it out for your reference.

First let's reset the PRAM on the computer.
1) Shut down the computer.
2) While the computer is shut down, locate these keys: command (has an apple on it), option (sometimes called alt), P, and R.
3) Turn the computer on, then press and hold Command-Option-P-R before the gray screen appears.
4) Hold these keys down until you hear the startup sound a total of 3 times.
5) Release the keys.

Next, let's try a Safe Boot. This will perform several clean up procedures that may be affecting the machine's performance and startup.
1) Shut down your computer completely.
2) Start up the computer and immediately after the startup chime, press and hold the Shift key
3) Once the gray Apple and progress indicator appear, release the Shift key
4) Note: Startup will likely take substantially longer than normal
5) In Mac OS 10.4 or later, you will have to login to your account, even if it normally does so automatically.
6) Shut down the computer.

Now let's check / repair the disk permissions. Although this doesn't fix all problems it is a great way to start when working on a machine, besides it often cleans up any other smaller problems you may or may not be experiencing.
1) Restart the machine.
2) Before you have opened any programs, go to Applications / Utilities / Disk Utility.
3) Run the "Repair Permissions" after selecting your Hard Drive from the list on the left.
4) Shut down the computer.
5) Restart and try running JUST iTunes and see if the volume is correct.

Let me know
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