“On older Macs, the headphone jack and the internal speakers are essentially separate ports on a single output device, and only one of these ports is allowed to be active at a time,” Kafasis reports. “With these new Macs, there are actually two distinct output devices. The headphone jack and the internal speakers are separate devices, completely independent from one another.”
“Perhaps the most obvious way to take advantage of these two devices is to send the Mac’s sound effects to the built-in speakers, while using the headphone jack for music and other audio. This way, you’ll never be jarred out of a good listening session by an error message beep blaring over your music,” Kafasis reports. “To split things up, head for the ‘Sound Effects’ tab in the Sound System Preference. There, you can configure the ‘Play sound effects through’ setting to use the the device speakers set the Sound Effects.”
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MacDailyNews Take: Hallelujah!
Paul also notes that “if nothing is plugged in to the headphone jack, the OS will hide that output away. This is mostly just good housekeeping, as it prevents you from sending audio to what is effectively a muted device. As soon as a pair of headphones or speakers are plugged in to the new Macs, that second device will appear, ready for use.”