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Published on January 17th, 2024 | by Sandy Writtenhouse

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How to Use Background Sounds on iPhone, iPad, and Mac

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Sometimes a subtle background sound is the perfect thing to help you focus or relax. Whether you want to concentrate on the task at hand or kick your feet up at the end of the day, you have a built-in audio tool on your Apple device.

Apple introduced the Background Sound feature with the releases of iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura. If you still haven’t checked out the feature, here’s how to enable and customize sounds for your mood.

How to Enable Background Sound on iPhone and iPad

You can turn on the Background Sound on your iPhone or iPad in just a few steps.

1. Open the Settings app and select Accessibility.

2. Move down to the Hearing section and tap Audio/Visual.

Audio Visual in the iPhone Settings

Audio/Visual in the iPhone Accessibility settings

3. Choose Background Sounds.

4. Turn on the toggle at the top for Background Sounds.

Background Sounds in the Audio Visual iPhone settings

Background Sounds in the Audio/Visual settings

You’ll immediately start hearing the default sound.

Customize the Background Sound on iPhone and iPad

Once you turn on Background Sound, you can select the sound you want to hear, adjust the volume, and customize a few additional settings.

1. If you already closed the Background Sound settings, return to Settings > Accessibility > Audio/Visual > Background Sounds.

2. Select the Sound option to choose another like Ocean, Rain, or a Balanced Noise. Tap the Back arrow.

Sound options for Background Sounds on iPhone

Sound options on iPhone

3. You can then use the slider to adjust the Volume. This allows you to play the sound at a different volume than your other iPhone or iPad sounds.

4. Optionally, enable the toggle for Use When Media Is Playing and adjust that volume. You can tap Play Sample to hear exactly that.

5. Finally, you can turn on the toggle for Stop Sounds When Locked. You can then have silence when your device locks if you prefer.

Background Sound settings on iPhone

Background Sound settings on iPhone

Tap the Back arrow to exit the settings and enjoy your background sound.

How to Enable Background Sound on Mac

It’s just as easy to turn on the Background Sound feature on your Mac as it is on your mobile device.

1. Open the System Settings using the icon in your Dock or Apple icon in the menu bar.

2. Select Accessibility on the left.

3. Go to the Hearing section on the right and choose Audio.

Audio in Accessibility Settings on Mac

Audio in the Mac Accessibility Settings

4. Turn on the toggle for Background Sounds.

Background Sounds toggle on Mac

Background Sounds toggle on Mac

Like on your iPhone or iPad, you’ll then hear the default Background Sound on your Mac.

Customize the Background Sound on Mac

You can then choose a different sound, increase or decrease the volume, or adjust the extra settings.

1. If you already closed the Background Sound settings, return to System Settings > Accessibility > Audio > Background Sounds.

2. Click Choose next to Background Sound to select a different sound. You have the same options as on iPhone and iPad such as Rain, Stream, or a Bright or Dark Noise.

Sound options for Background Sounds on Mac

Sounds options on Mac

3. You can then use the slider to adjust the Background Sound Volume and turn on the toggle to turn off background sounds when your Mac is not in use.

Background Sound settings on Mac

Background Sound settings on Mac

You can then close the System Settings and listen to the sound you selected as you browse the web or tackle your work.

With the Background Sound feature, you can add a peaceful yet comforting backdrop on your Apple device.

For more, look at how to share voice memos on your Apple devices.

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About the Author

has a BS in Information Technology and worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She then decided to follow her dream and now writes about technology full-time.



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