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Archived - Mac OS X: How to add an alert sound

This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.

If you'd like to add your own alert sounds to Mac OS X, you can as long as your audio file is in AIFF format and has the ".aiff" extension appended to the filename. (Note: The suffix ".aif" is not sufficient in Mac OS X 10.1.5 and earlier.) Here's how to add your own alert sounds to your system.

  1. Locate the AIFF sound file you want to use in the Finder.
  2. From the File menu, choose New Finder Window to open another Finder window.
  3. Select your Home folder in the new Finder window.
  4. Open the Library folder.
  5. Open the Sounds folder—you should now be in ~/Library/Sounds, where the tilde (~) represents your Home folder.
  6. Drag your AIFF file from your first Finder window to the Sounds folder in the second Finder window.
  7. From the Apple menu, choose System Preferences.
  8. In the resulting window, click Sound to display its pane.
  9. Click the Sound Effects tab.
  10. Your sound should appear in the alert sound list; just select it to put it in use.

Tip: If you'd like to make your sounds available to other users on your computer, create a Sounds folder, put it in the Library folder at the root of your system (/Library), and drag in your AIFF files.

How to convert a sound file to AIFF format

If your sound file is not in AIFF format, you can use an audio application, such as iTunes or QuickTime Pro, that can convert sound files between formats—as long as your selected application can open and play the file that you wish to convert.

Using iTunes to convert audio files to AIFF format

  1. Open iTunes (it's in the Applications folder).
  2. From the iTunes menu, choose Preferences.
  3. Click the Importing button.
  4. From the Import Using pop-up menu, choose AIFF Encoder.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Hold down the Option key and from the Advanced menu, choose Convert Selection to AIFF.
  7. In the resulting Convert window, navigate to and select your audio file.
  8. Click Choose. iTunes begins to convert the file.
  9. After iTunes finishes the conversion, drag the AIFF file from the iTunes library to either /Users/username/Library/Sounds or /Library/Sounds (if you are using Mac OS X 10.1.5 or earlier, be sure to change the filename extension from ".aif" to ".aiff").

You can then delete the audio file from your iTunes library if you wish (just select the file and press Delete).

Note: If you're using Mac OS X 10.0 and cannot use iTunes, you can use QuickTime Player to do the conversion as long as you've upgraded to QuickTime Pro, and the file is one that QuickTime Player can open and play.

Using QuickTime Pro to convert audio files to AIFF format

Note: Certain files that work with the Mac OS 9 version of QuickTime Player may not work with the Mac OS X version, and vice versa. For example, if you want to bring a sound from the Mac OS 9 System suitcase (also known as a "System 7 Sound") into Mac OS X, you must make the AIFF conversion in the Mac OS 9 version of QuickTime Player—not the Mac OS X version. If needed, you can open the Mac OS 9 version of QuickTime Player in the Classic environment of Mac OS X.

  1. Open QuickTime Player (it's in the Applications folder).
  2. From the File menu, choose Import. QuickTime 7 Pro users: From the File menu, choose Open File.
  3. In the resulting dialog, navigate to and select the sound file that you wish to convert.
  4. Click Open.
  5. From the File menu, choose Export.
  6. In the resulting dialog, choose a location to save the new file (the Desktop or your Documents folder are good choices).
  7. From the Export pop-up menu, choose Sound to AIFF.
  8. In the Save As field, check the file name to be sure it ends with a ".aiff" extension.
  9. Click Save.

Once QuickTime has converted your file, drag the AIFF file to either /Users/username/Library/Sounds or /Library/Sounds.

Last Modified: Feb 17, 2012
  • Last Modified: Feb 17, 2012
  • Article: TA20512
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