While iOS won’t support the standard, macOS officially supports aptX (not to be confused with aptX HD) as a Bluetooth audio codec. However, macOS will likely favor AAC as Apple’s apps such as iTunes prefer the codec.

All Bluetooth headphones support the pretty terrible, widely available SBC audio codec. But, the codec is pretty terrible and compresses your audio more than most would like.

Generally, more modern headphones support AAC (which iPhones support), and aptX (the codec that most Android devices use). Regardless, some headphones fall back to SBC for no explainable reason. Aside from quality, this could add more latency, causing for a subpar audio experience.

Luckily, on macOS, users are able to force AAC and aptX via a few easy steps. Follow along to learn how…

Mac: How to force aptX/AAC on supported Bluetooth headphones

You’ll first need to know which codec your headphones are currently using. To do this:

  1. Connect your Bluetooth headphones to your Mac and start playing some audio.
  2. Hold down the Option key and click on the Bluetooth icon in the menu bar.
  3. Click on your headphones to expand the menu. You should see the headphone’s Active Codec shown in grey.

If your headphones are already using AAC or aptX, no further action is required. Both standards are relatively good for wireless and are superior to the old SBC codec. However, if you see that your headphones are using SBC, continue reading.

  1. You’ll need to download Additional Tools for Xcode, which can be found here. It contains Apple’s Bluetooth explorer utility. Downloading will require a free Apple Developer account.
  2. Once downloaded, open the Additional Tools dmg and mount it.
  3. Open the Additional Tools drive and get to the Hardware folder.
  4. Drag the Bluetooth Explorer app to the Applications folder.
  5. Launch the app and navigate to Tools > Audio Options in the menubar.
  6. In the newly opened window, tick Force use of aptX and Enable AAC (if applicable). Make sure Disable AAC and disable aptX is unticked.
  7. Click Close to finish and either reboot your Mac or disconnect and re-connect your headphones.
  8. Verify that your headphones are now using either AAC or aptX with the initial steps above.

For more help getting the most out of your Apple devices, check out our how to guide as well as the following articles:


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