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How to check the mic on a Mac

Macs come with a built-in mic and you can connect an external mic to all Mac models. As with most audio devices, a mic will be plug & play. In fact, it will be easier to set up an external mic on a Mac that it is on a Windows 10 system where the right audio driver may have to be installed.

While it is easy to install/set up a mic on a Mac, checking to see if it’s working isn’t as simple. Here’s how you can check the mic on a Mac.

Check mic on Mac

Broadly speaking, there are two ways you can check if a connected mic is getting any input; the system’s own mic volume settings, and third-party apps/services.

1. System Preferences for mic

If you want to test an external mic, go ahead and connect it to your Mac first.

  1. Open the System Preferences app.
  2. Go to the Sound preference.
  3. On the Sound preference, go to the Input tab.
  4. Select the input device i.e., the mic that you want to test.
  5. Adjust the volume so that it can pick up the sound you want the mic to pick up and speak into it.
  6. The bars will light up to indicate the input that is detected. If they do not light up, your mic is not detecting any input.

2. Browse and web service

A mic is an input device and as such, access to it is given at the discretion of the user. If your Mac is able to detect mic input from the System Preferences app, but an app isn’t able to pick it up, it might be a problem with permissions or with the app. To check what’s wrong, run a mic test from your web browser.

  1. Open your web browser and visit this Microphone test app.
  2. Click the Play button indicated at the right.
  3. Your browser will ask for permission to access the mic. Allow the browser access to the mic.
  4. Once the browser has access to the mic, speak into it.
  5. The little window under the test area will indicate sound input; the line will change to reflect the volume of the sound.


Mic testing apps on macOS aren’t common. You will find a few free apps that allow you to control the mic’s On/Off state, and in some cases, you will be able to change the volume, and toggle the mic On/Off with a keyboard shortcut. The built-in mic volume indicator will do the job but if you’re not satisfied, download a free recording tool like Audacity and allow it to monitor the mic live.

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