I love this trick more than any other macOS lifehack because 9 times out of 10 if I am on my MacBook, I am probably wearing headphones. The snag is, my headphones input mic is not great, let me tell ya.

My favorite noise-cancelling headphones Sony XM4‘s have a small audio problem with Bluetooth. When they’re connected via Bluetooth, good ol macOS wants to use them as both input and output by default, but due to bandwidth problems the headphones switch its audio output to something like mono:

For headsets and other audio devices, there are multiple relevant profiles: The Headset Profile (HSP) and/or the Hands Free Profile (HFP) are used when you want to use the device in two directions, so to speak – speaker output and microphone input. With HSP or HFP, the available bandwidth gets split between the speaker and the microphone, so the quality of the audio output will be lower. Maybe that’s what you mean by “mono”.

The audio output can be so poor in fact, that I find it unusable. I’m in this weird position where I love using my headphones, but only if they are used for audio output alone. So, I am constantly switching my input to the System mic instead of my headphones mic 🤕

Without further ado, here’s the macOS prot-tip! All you need to do is Option-Click on the volume icon in your menu bar (if you’re currently connected to headphones or some other audio output device, like a TV the icon may appear different):

  1. Hover over the volume icon in your menu bar
  2. ⌥ Click on the volume icon
  3. It should reveal a dropdown with Input and Output devices listed