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A common, but simple, request I see from Mac users is “How can I mute the sound my Mac makes when I start it up or restart it?” For example, if your desktop Mac is hooked up to a set of (loud) external speakers, or if you don’t want your laptop Mac to disturb those around you. You’d think the solution would be as simple as muting the computer before you shut down or restart, but, unfortunately, that doesn’t work with all Macs.

The easiest way to solve this problem is to turn to third-party developers, who—in true Mac-developer style—have taken it upon themselves to provide a feature Apple hasn’t. There are a number of “startup-sound-muting” utilities out there, but my favorite is Arcana’s free StartupSound.prefPane 1.1b1 (   ). The reason I like it is that because it works through Mac OS X’s System Preferences utility—I like it when system-type preferences are actually located in, you know, System Preferences.

StartupSound.prefPane has actually been around for a while; the original version was released three years ago. But version 1.1b1 adds support for Intel Macs, so it’s usable on pretty much any Mac running OS X 10.4 or later. (Oddly enough, to download 1.1b1, you have to go through the utility’s VersionTracker page ; the developer hasn’t posted the latest version on the official Web site. If you’re still using Mac OS X 10.3 or 10.2, you can download version 1.0, available from the official Web site.)

Once you install StartupSound.prefPane, you can adjust the startup-sound volume via a new Startup Sound pane in System Preferences; note that you need administrator access to change any settings. Simply check the “Turn on startup volume control” box and then choose your startup volume. Click on the Mute box (or drag the slider all the way to the left) to completely mute the startup “bong"; or you can instead choose an audible, but softer, volume level than your Mac’s default.


StartupSound.prefPane 1.1b1 is, as its name indicates, still a beta, but it’s been at the same version number for nearly a year and it hasn’t caused any problems on the systems I’ve tested it on. The only issue noted by the developer is that a non-administrator user can’t adjust the startup-sound volume; the option to enter the name and password of an administrator doesn’t currently work. The only issue I’ve personally experienced is that once you set the startup-sound volume using StartupSound.prefPane, it seems to stay at that level, even if you uncheck the “Turn on startup volume control” box; if you want to hear your startup sound again, you need to use StartupSound.prefPane to turn the volume back up again.

StartupSound.prefPane 1.1b1 requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later and is a Universal binary; earlier versions of the utility work with earlier versions of Mac OS X.

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