Restoring playback of Sound Effects in Lion (ex: iChat doesn’t play alert messages)

I recently switch my full time OS from SL to Lion and one of the bugs I have noticed is that anytime I let Lion put my Mac Pro to sleep I loose playback of all sound effects. For instance doing a screen capture (Apple Key (CMD) + Shift + 3) does not play the shutter sound, and iChat does not play any sound effects (ex: incoming or sent messages, buddies coming online, requesting an audio chat, etc),

This is even more strange when considered in conjunction with what does work! For instance, in the iChat preferences, if I edit the sound effect played for any event the sound plays correctly. Yet when an actual event occurs in that should play that sound effect … nothing. Of course, I verified that all of my audio output selections and volumes were correct (and all sound plays correctly when verifying these items).

After a lot of googling I came across this post about iChat not playing alert sounds which had the solution, at least in my case. To test and see if you have the same issue, open System Preferences > Sound > Sound Effects and change the alert sound. If it does not play, you likely have the same, or very similar issue, that might be resolved following these steps.


Possible Solution:

To resolve my iChat alert and system wide sound effects not playing problem I performed the following steps:

  1. Open System Preferences, click on the Sound pane.
  2. Select a new “alert sound”
  3. Change the “Play sound effects through” device selection
  4. Restore both to their original values

Example Original settings:


After changing alert sound and output device:


After restoring original settings:


That Didn’t work!

If the above steps do not work, it is suggested that you might be able to correct the issue by deleting the file:


and then restart your mac. Note that this is the /Library preferences and not ~/Library preferences.

Got A Solution?

If anyone knows either why this happens in Lion after waking the machine from a sleep state, or (even better) how to prevent this from happing, please post a reply!

About Lane Roathe

I make my living designing, producing, and programming computer software. I have done work on numerous platforms, including MacOS, Win95/NT, Apple //, Super Nintendo, Sega, and others; writing mainly games but also operating systems, applications, utilities, etc. I have started and run several companies, currently operating Ideas From the Deep and working at Quicken, inc on Quicken for Mac.
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