Mac comes with a unique set of sounds effects that you can assign as default system alerts. Some of these sounds are fairly old and will make you feel like you have travelled back in time. However, you can change your system alert to any other sound effects your Mac comes with, or you can add custom sounds yourself–as well as turn them off completely.
How to Change or Disable System Sounds
Sound preferences can can be accessed by opening the System Preferences and clicking on “Sound”.
When you click on a sound effect, you can hear what it sounds like and it will be set as your system alert.
Below the list of sound effects, you can elect to play them through your computer’s internal speakers or some other sound source. You will also be able to change the volume of all sound alerts, turn them off completely (by unchecking “Play user interface sound effects”), and decide whether you want to hear feedback whenever you change the volume on your system.
How to Add Your Own Custom Sound Effects
You can add custom sound effects to your Mac but the method is a bit tricky. Before you begin, you’ll either have to make some custom sound effects, or you can download something already made. First open your ~/Library/Sounds folder. The easiest way to do this is to select the “Go” menu in Finder, hold the “Option” key until “Library” appears. Then click it. From there, open the Sounds folder.
To use custom sound effects, they have to be in AIFF format. If they’re not in AIFF, then they’ll need to be converted first. Read the next section to learn how to do that using iTunes, otherwise drag your custom sound AIFF files to the ~/Library/Sounds folder.
Finally, open the Sound preferences once again and select the “Custom” sound effect you want to use as your system alert.
How to Convert Custom Sounds to AIFF
If you have something you want to use as a system sound, it will need to be in .AIFF format. If it isn’t, you can convert it using iTunes.
Open iTunes and then the preferences using the iTunes menu or by pressing Command+, on your keyboard.
Now on the General preferences tab, click “Import Settings”.
In the Import Settings, select “AIFF Encoder” from the “Import Using” dropdown menu, then click “OK” and exit the preferences.
Now, in your media library (assuming you’ve added the MP3s you want to convert to your iTunes library), select the file or files you want to convert to AIFF. Click “File” then “Convert” and finally “Create AIFF Version”.
The conversion process should only take a few seconds at the most.
Right-click on the new sound file in the iTunes library and choose “Show in Finder”.
You can just drag your new sound file to the ~/Library/Sounds folder as described in the previous section, and it will be automatically added as a new custom sound effect. Make sure you go back into the Sound preferences once again and select it as your new system alert sound.
Being able to use different sounds effects for your system alert not only distinguishes your Mac from everyone else’s, it gives you a break from the usual assortment of system alert sounds.