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Is there some sort of accepted keyboard shortcut to mute the sound of a piece of software? I'm mostly interested in Windows, but an answer for Mac would also be appreciated.

I was thinking maybe Ctrl + M (M for Mute), but haven't found software that does that.

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FYI windows doesn't have a standard or a shortcut for it at all. It's usually a dedicated button if it exists at all, otherwise most apps give you a GUI button to do it instead. –  Ben Brocka Oct 4 '11 at 15:05
    
My cherry evolution stream keyboard has a mute key... –  Mike L. Oct 4 '11 at 18:41
    
@MikeL. I like when keyboards do that, every good one I've had has done so. Not entirely sure why nothing uses a mute shortcut but they don't. –  Ben Brocka Oct 4 '11 at 20:14
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As up and down are good shortcuts for adjusting volume in a media player (see youtube), you could extend this to include shift+up and shift+down for full volume and mute. –  zzzzBov Oct 4 '11 at 20:58
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5 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Since neither iTunes nor Spotify contain a keyboard shortcut for mute, I think it is fair to say there is no industry standard. You may want to check a few other audio apps to be sure, but my intuition tells me that the Pause or Mute button is so visually recognizable, it has become the default instead of a shortcut.

I would advise caution in using keyboard shortcuts in general, since they are not easily discoverable. Recent research shows that most people do not even know to use Control F for find on a page, so any new keyboard shortcuts might fall into that category of useful but never used.

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"Recent research": could you provide a link? –  Randomblue Oct 4 '11 at 14:41
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@randomblue theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/08/… –  Ben Brocka Oct 4 '11 at 15:03
    
Thanks Ben, beat me to it :) –  Nadine Schaeffer Oct 4 '11 at 18:06
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just because most people don't use keyboard shortcuts, doesn't mean you should not include them for the power users who do. –  zzzzBov Oct 4 '11 at 20:55
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Disclaimer: Mac user.

Volume is usually handled at the system level. Is the application you're speaking about somehow different that the system volume won't cut it?

Look at pieces like iTunes, any digital audio workstation application, or any video editing application for application volume examples.

If you really need an application mute shortcut, you should define it by what is most intuitive. I can't think of any precedent.

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For Mac

Macs have a mute button and volume control on their keyboard. This is the shortcut, but it affects the volume on a system level so all other applications will also be muted due to the sound overall being down.

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You don't have to follow standard ways of doing things (although it's almost always best when there is one) - sometimes a standard simply don't exists - as in this case.

What you need is a place where people can mute (button, menu or whatever) and a text that explains what the shortcut is. This can be either a adjacent text label, mouse over popup, or a place where all the shortcuts are gathered (like Photoshop does - enter image description here).

Shortcuts should be used as the name describes it - a shortcut for a function that the user can use without having to know about the shortcut - hence the button or similar that mutes the sound...

If the shortcuts are used or not used that much is another question, but the ones who uses them appreciates them - and I am one of them :)

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M

Used in alsamixer, MPlayer and more.

There's a notation that goes something like "[m]ute, [p]ause, [f]orward, [b]ack", where the bracketed character is the shortcut. Similarly underlining mainly the first letter in words in menus to show the hotkey.

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