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How to set app specific volume on macOS

Lots of apps can play sound and/or audio but that doesn’t necessarily make them all equal. Apps like media players need to be able to play audio as a core function whereas messengers, or any other app that has audio you cannot turn off may need a mute button. Unfortunately, out of the box, macOS doesn’t let you set app specific volume levels. To do that, you need an app.

There is no shortage of apps that allow you to set app specific volume levels on macOS however there are free apps, and there are paid apps. If you’re looking for something free, we recommend checking out Background Music.

Set app specific volume

Download Background Music and install it. It runs entirely in the menu bar where, if you click the app’s icon, you can set individual volume levels for the apps that are currently running. The app decides that all apps can play music, even if they can’t which is why each one that’s running will have a volume slider.

Before you can use Background Music to set different volume levels for apps, you need to understand how it works. The volume level for an app is set relative to the current volume level for the OS.

For example, if your volume is currently set to 50%, the volumes you set for an app will always be equal to, or less than 50% of the volume. If, with the system volume set to 50%, you set the volume slider for an app to its highest point, it will still only output 50% volume. If you were to increase the system volume, the volume for the other apps will change accordingly.

This app can also set the volume for other apps that aren’t running. Go into the More Apps sub-menu and you will see a list of every single app installed on your system. Again, it doesn’t matter if an app can play audio or not. It will still be listed there.

In addition to volume level management, Background Music can also set the left/right speaker balance. Click the dropdown arrow next to the slider and you will see a slider for adjusting the left/right speakers.

This app is supposed to mimic the volume mixer that Windows has. It’s been a part of the OS for years and macOS has nothing like it out of the box. As far as copying the feature goes, it’s a near copy since it’s limited to maximum volume that’s been set for the system.

Need a browser specific volume mixer?  You can get one if you use Chrome.

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