Why the return of the Mac opening chime matters

Why the return of the Mac’s startup chime is a big deal

Friday, December 4, 2020 4:50 pm

Jason Aten for Business Insider

Back in 2016, for some unknown reason, Apple decided to kill the Mac’s startup chime at the ripe old age of 32. Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus even put together a tribute video to memorialize the occasion:

Those of us who missed the Mac’s chime brought it back with a simple command in the Terminal. Ah, the beauty of having Unix under the hood.

This year, happily, Apple reinstated the Mac’s chime by default.

Mac Finder icon

It might seem like a small change, but it’s actually a big deal.

The startup chime had been around since the original Macintosh, though at the time it was more of a beep. Over the years, the chime changed several times, but the purpose was the same: to tell a user that the computer’s hardware had passed diagnostic tests and was working properly. When you heard it, you knew your Mac was going to boot up.

In 2016, the startup chime went away. At the time, Apple didn’t say anything about why it was removing the sound you hear when you start up a Mac. Most likely, removing the startup chime was a signal that the Mac is like the iPhone or iPad in that they’re essentially always on… [But] the thing about the startup chime is that it’s a part of the identity of a Mac. That’s important, and it’s also easy to overlook when you think of it purely from a functional standpoint. If you think the startup chime serves one specific purpose, when that purpose no longer exists, you have no need for the chime…

Bringing back the boot chime isn’t functional. There’s literally no technical reason it needs to be there, and it only serves one purpose — to delight the user… Which is exactly why it’s a big deal.

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