Using Apple earphones/microphone and speakers on Mac Mini 2018

I would love help solving our dilemma!

Using a 2018 mac mini, (monitor and Logitech HD 1080P camera) we are finding ourselves constantly unplugging Apple corded earphones and plugging in our speakers when using virtual conference software - using the 3.5 mm earphone stereo socket at the back on the mini. We want to stop doing that.

We use earphones to create privacy. We use speakers when the house is quiet, in small groups or when the family is all together.

What solutions exists to stop this plugging and unplugging?

One idea I have is for us to get and use wireless earphones and leave the speakers permanently connected. How would we then switch back and forth?

Another idea I have is to buy a new pair of speakers which connect to one of the USB A or C sockets. Then we could leave the earphones permanently plugged in. How would we then switch audio outputs back and forth?

What about purchasing a splitter and having both plugged it all the time? Will the Apple earphones and microphone work? We were told that the Apple plug is not a standard 3.5 mm.

I look forward to hearing your ideas and solutions. Thank you

Unsure about the splitter idea, don’t know if the mic would carry through.

I have the same set up as you other than using airpods for calls at the moment. It’s working fine, software wise I just jump into preferences and change, some programs have the option within them.

I don’t find it any real hassle that way, I couldn’t be bothered changing cables constantly!

I have a soundbar connected via USB A on my 2018 mini and occasionally use wired Apple earphone. You can switch output either through the Sound Control in System Preferences or the one on the Menu bar.

You can always.

Keep everything plugged in and change the output device for sound in System Preferences.

System Preferences > Sound > Output

Note: you can check the box that says “Show volume in menu bar” so a little speaker appears in the menu bar and the drop-down menu shows you a list of connected outputs and allows you to select which one to use.

No need for anything fancy!

Thanks @Ethan9482! I’ve discovered the splitter idea will not work. Good to know you have the same situation and opted for AirPods. How would rate the sound quality for music? Spoken word/Calls/Skype?

Thanks @WayneG. I love the soundbar idea via USB A! Maybe I could replace our speakers with USB A soundbar/speakers. How does the Dell soundbar perform for music? And voice? Also adding the Sound Control in the menu bar makes so much sense! Cheers.

Thanks for your comments and ideas @margaretamartin. I cannot keep everything plugged in in this scenario. In order to get sound output, I need to keep alternating between earphones and speakers. I am looking to stop doing that.

The sound bar is much better than the mini’s built in speaker, but not that great for music. I’d recommend regular speakers.


Quality wise, never had any issues with it, all works spot on. Definitely clearer than the built in mics of laptops etc. Guess ultimately it will come down to the quality of your headphones but certainly airpods work very well.

Incidentally, I have the PowerBeats ($50 more than Airpods, unless you catch them on sale), and I’m really, really happy with them. I went from Airpods to the Beats because the Beats have almost double the battery lifetime, so not as big of a deal if I want to use them all day.

I find the sound to be really good. I like them better than my Airpods, but I’m not super-fussy either way - battery life was the thing that pushed me over the edge.

I think either the AirPods or the PowerBeats would be good options for you, depending on your use case. :slight_smile:

Sorry, I misunderstood.

If your problem is simply reaching around to the headphone jack, you might be able to get an extension cord for the jack. That means you still need to plug/unplug, but it’s a lot easier. You need to make sure it is properly wired so everything (microphone) works. If you can find the proper cable, it will likely be cheaper than buying new hardware.

This looks like a good source of info:

And I’ve purchased hard-to-find cables from:

But of course, if you’re looking for a reason to upgrade, ignore me!