Macbook Pro Digital Out (Stuck)

I was watching a movie on my projector with my external speakers plugged in to my Macbook and as the movie ended I pulled the speaker cable out of my headphone jack to plug it back into my Air port express.

I’ve done this before with no problem.

This time the phone jack had a red light coming out of it like the pit of hell! I couldn’t use my internal speakers, and when I went under system preferences it said: “Digital Out”

There was no choice for internal speakers.

After searching the forums I found two things can remedy this situation.

1. Plug and unplug a set of headphones a few time to get the jack to reset and the light will turn off.

2. A digital jack is a bit longer than a headphone jack, so I put VERY little pressure on the headphones be putting a small paper clip in the jack.

It seemed to be a bad idea to put a paper clip in to plugs, because I learned that is a bad idea at five years old. It turns out this is a different plug 🙂

I did find a few forums where people claimed Apple Support told them to reinstall the OS to fix the problem. Which will definitely fix it. Kind of like tearing the house down because it needs paint.

Always ask for a second opinion, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

11 comments… add one
  • Hjorvar Link

    thanks man, my MBP was stuck on digital out, used an optical cable (a bit longer), pugged and unplugged 4-5 times and I am back in business. If every probelm would be solved in 5 secs after taking the advice from the first webpage you stumble accross life would be sweet

  • my new macbook is doing the same thing. is reinstall the only help?

  • J.B. Link

    It is not a software problem. A reinstall will not help. I just had this issue.. I took a q-tip and cut the head off and fiddled around in the port until my volume control started to work.. It gets dirty in there and sometimes things stick..

  • Andy Poeste Link

    Had the same problem with a new MBP15 (arrived today), I reinstalled Snow Leopard and it made no difference – so it’s going back to the Apple Store tomorrow! This is a stupid problem that’s been around for years – and yet Apple Support doesn’t seem to know anything about it….at least, when I phoned them I could hear them scratching their heads between ingenuous gasps and denials of knowledge of such a heinous fault.
    Is there no permanent solution? Sticking QTips and paperclips, and vigorous headphone jack ‘stimulation’ seems a little low-tech to me as a fix for a known problem.

  • Low-tech or not, it works. Thanks for the tip! (Pun not intended but completely apt.)

  • The same thing was happening to mine, couldn’t hear anything except with headphones, for over a week, I connected and disconnected it like 7 times playing around with it and jiggling it and it worked!!! Finally!


  • Dieter Link

    The headphone plug/un-plug trick did not work for me.

    What worked for me:
    – find an electronics twist-tie (e.g. the plastic-covered metal tie used in new electronics to keep cords neat)
    – stretch it out straight
    – folded it in half
    – insert loop end of folded tie into the headphone port
    – remove folded tie

  • Flash Fire Link

    Problem: I had the same issue, grayed out speaker icon in my toolbar, no speaker sound, and a red light in my headphone port.
    Solution: plugged in, and then unplugged my headphones. I did this about 5 times, slightly wiggling the headphones when I plugged it in. It worked.

  • Nicole Link

    Thank you so much it worked i did the pluging in and out thing for 5 times. I didnt have a small paperclip but i used a sissor it didnt go in but the metal help it so i think sissors will help to
    i went to youtube went on a video and it worked thank you so much you are very smart.
    I had return my red headphones because of this i didnt even see the light we just returnd the, and then i got white headphones and they stopped working about 2 months ago so thank you so much now i dont need to get a third pair of headphones. Yay i didnt break my white headphones .

  • THANK YOU!!!!!

  • Elvia Link

    wow it really works! I was seeing the red light and so I just played around with the jack and plugged in and out a few times, and, like magic, it works again! lol thanks

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