How To: Troubleshoot Sound Not Working on MacBook when you plug something into Headphone Jack

Try the Following:

Option 1


  1. Plug in and then take out headphones.

  2. Kill the Core Audio process in the Activity monitor.

  3. Reboot.

Option 2

  1. Check to see if a red LED shines out of the headphone jack: - the MacBook is stuck on digital optical out (that is, it thinks you have a fiber-optic line -- for high-fidelity output -- stuck in the laptop).

  2. Check to see if there appears to be a stuck sensor in the headphone jack and that, most of the time, sticking a toothpick or matchstick in the headphone jack (or blowing with compressed air) can get it to reset itself (NEVER stick anything metal into the jack!)

  3. Plug your headphones back in.

  4. Play a bit of sound through them (e.g., a song), then stop the sound.

  5. Launch Preferences and open the Sound pane.

  6. While the Sound pane is open and set to Headphones, pull out the headphone plug from the jack. It will reset itself to "Internal Speakers" and you are good to go


Option 3 (***ADMIN only***)

  1. Delete both files in YourHardDrive->Library->Preferences->Audio -> (both .plist files in this folder)

    • com.apple.audio.DeviceSettings.plist

    • com.apple.audio.SystemSettings.plist

  2. Make sure to empty your trash.

  3. Reset PRAM

  4. Reset SMC

  5. Reboot


Still Not Working (***Admin/Tech/DLM Only***)

  1. Technician or Help Desk may reimage to reset operating system software settings.

  2. Transfer Work Order to Repair Bench have hardware tested and repaired if necessary.


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  1. Mariana Juarez
    18 April, 2016

    Hello, I think there is something actually stuck in the headphone jack. I tried to find how to kill the core audio, but it says I need administration login. Nothing is working and I want to get this fixed. Thank you.