Why the return of the Mac’s startup chime is a big deal

Back in 2016, for some unknown reason, Apple decided to kill the Mac’s startup chime at the ripe old age of 32. Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus even put together a tribute video to memorialize the occasion:

Those of us who missed the Mac’s chime brought it back with a simple command in the Terminal. Ah, the beauty of having Unix under the hood.

This year, happily, Apple reinstated the Mac’s chime by default.

Jason Aten for Business Insider:

Mac Finder iconIt might seem like a small change, but it’s actually a big deal.

The startup chime had been around since the original Macintosh, though at the time it was more of a beep. Over the years, the chime changed several times, but the purpose was the same: to tell a user that the computer’s hardware had passed diagnostic tests and was working properly. When you heard it, you knew your Mac was going to boot up.

In 2016, the startup chime went away. At the time, Apple didn’t say anything about why it was removing the sound you hear when you start up a Mac. Most likely, removing the startup chime was a signal that the Mac is like the iPhone or iPad in that they’re essentially always on… [But] the thing about the startup chime is that it’s a part of the identity of a Mac. That’s important, and it’s also easy to overlook when you think of it purely from a functional standpoint. If you think the startup chime serves one specific purpose, when that purpose no longer exists, you have no need for the chime…

Bringing back the boot chime isn’t functional. There’s literally no technical reason it needs to be there, and it only serves one purpose — to delight the user… Which is exactly why it’s a big deal.

MacDailyNews Take: Our Macs are whole again, now Terminal commands required! While we rarely reboot anymore, certainly compared to the the pre-Mac OS X days, when we do, we like our Mac’s to chime on startup!

14 Comments

  1. “In 2016, the startup chime went away. At the time, Apple didn’t say anything about why it was removing the sound you hear when you start up a Mac.”

    MOST EXCELLENT!

    Another Cook mistake rectified in parallel construction replacing the trashcan Mac Pro with a true pro computer…

  2. Our Macs are whole again, now Terminal commands required!

    NOw need to remove to w… unless you want to give the impression that Terminal commands are indeed required.

  3. “Bringing back the boot chime isn’t functional. There’s literally no technical reason it needs to be there, and it only serves one purpose — to delight the user… Which is exactly why it’s a big deal.”

    In a word: Bullshit.

    The startup chime, once it moved to a combined multi-tone way back when, actually gave you diagnostic information if the POST (Power On Self Test) did not pass all tests. If POST did not pass the different tones did not sound together but rather sounded individually in a specific order. If you knew the meaning of the order of the tones you could rapidly diagnose the problem. For example, while maintaining a large number of Macs back in the late 80s and early 90s, I had a bunch of RAM DIMMs that were failing across several machines. What gave me the rapid diagnostic tool to point out what was wrong? The start up chime. The tones were in a specific order that pointed to the RAM DIMMs. A relatively quick and easy fix all due to the Mac’s chime system associated with POST.

    I’m really glad it’s back, I just hope they have restored, as a default, the diagnostic association with POST too. I must admit I have not tested it yet.

  4. The Big Sur chime is disgusting and very rough-sounding, like an old jalopy trying to puke! Yes, you read that correctly: if an old car could puke, it would sound like the Big Sur “chime.”

  5. For the rest of us who use the Macs in the real world, as long we can switch OFF the dame chime then fine. Who wants the chimes when you boot up a laptom in a meeting/conference/class/working with other people/late at night/early in the morning?

    Why not chime ONLY if the Mac does not pass POST?

  6. I recently bought a macbook pro 16″ (my old one was a MBP mid-2012) and there is no on-off button and power light! I effing hate this! I had to use the terminal to be able to hit a key to turn it on but WTF do you do if it locks up?

    Apple seems bent on slowly talking things out of their MBPs. Probably in 10 years, we’ll by an aluminum case that holds a monitor and keyboard and connect all the electronics via cables.

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