From the command line I can easily create another pulseaudio sink and switch to that but I have not found a way how to do this using a GUI from the Xfce desktop.

In GNOME I use gnome-volume-control from audio settings to switch to another audio output sink.

Is there anything similar in Xfce?

  • 2
    are you using pulseaudio? - is pavucontrol the sort of thing you are looking for? – fossfreedom Feb 24 '12 at 13:17
  • Pavucontrol would do it but it installs such a lot of dependencies. I was wondering if there was something more XFCE inherent (or lean). – Takkat Feb 24 '12 at 13:38
  • ... ummm... but I thought xfce4-mixer also had a similar capability - but I'm depending on my ageing memory ... :) – fossfreedom Feb 24 '12 at 14:27
  • It looks like it has but it does not show my bluetooth headset or my newly created pulseaudio sink. Feels like it's oriented more to ALSA than to pulseaudio. I may well only just don't know how to operate it (memory mumified by age). – Takkat Feb 24 '12 at 14:37

Testing Xfce panel version 4.12.2: the volume indicator already has that feature. It is a pulseaudio plugin (xfce4-pulseaudio-plugin) for the Xfce panel.

enter image description here

The output device is listed under the main scroll given more than one sink is available; on mouse hover a list of available output devices is displayed.

enter image description here

So, no external application is needed for the purpose discussed here, although pavucontrol may be useful (especially given that Xfce has no specific audio settings like other desktops have).

Non-Xfce-specific tools can be also used like pasystray(PulseAudio System Tray), as explained here, similar to Sound Switcher Indicator, already mentioned under this question; pasystraydoesn't need a new PPA to be added.


After installing pavucontrol you have graphical access to several useful settings for pulseaudio including a choice for your output device. Choose the default output device in the Output Device tab:

enter image description here

A currently playing stream of a given application can also be moved to another device in the Playback tab from the dropdown menu next to Playback Stream on:

enter image description here

  • 2
    I did exactly that but didn't get my bluetooth headphone to work unfortunately. It works perfectly in Unity though. Any idea of what might be the problem? – user207935 Jan 25 '15 at 15:43
  • This worked for me using I3 (instead of Unity) on Ubuntu 16.04 – user608329 Oct 28 '16 at 7:55
  • "Set as fallback" will not affect the already playing applications, but only those started after this change. Also, disconnecting and reconnecting a device (e.g a bluetooth speaker) will reset this setting back to the internal/wired output. Setting an output device per application under the Playback tab overrides the "Set as fallback" setting. – user47206 Nov 16 '17 at 13:51

The pavucontrol answer is correct. However I encountered difficulties to use is out of the box. I had to type the following before using pavucontrol to use my bt headphone:

pactl load-module module-alsa-sink device=btheadset

You can control if this was successful by typing:

pactl list short sinks

Output should look similar to:

0 alsa_output.pci-0000_03_04.0.iec958-stereo module-alsa-card.c s16le 2ch 44100Hz SUSPENDED

2 alsa_output.btheadset module-alsa-sink.c s16le 2ch 44100Hz IDLE

I also have a short script to move sound from alsa/pulseaudio to bt that I called 'toBt.sh':


OCHANNEL=`pactl list modules short | grep btheadset | cut -f 1`
for i in $OCHANNEL; do
        echo "altes module $i"
        pactl unload-module $i
CHANNEL=`pactl load-module module-alsa-sink device=btheadset`
echo "neues module $CHANNEL"
if [ $? -ne 0 ]; then
        echo "No bt connection"
        exit -1
SINK=`pactl list sinks short | grep btheadset | cut -f 1`
INPUTS=`pactl list sink-inputs short | cut -f 1`
for i in $INPUTS; do
        echo "Verschiebe in $i nach $SINK"
        pactl move-sink-input $i $SINK

To return to alsa/pulseaudio sound I've got 'toAlsa.sh':


SINK=`pactl list sinks short | grep alsa-card | cut -f 1`
INPUTS=`pactl list sink-inputs short | cut -f 1`
for i in $INPUTS; do
        echo "Verschiebe in $i nach $SINK"
        pactl move-sink-input $i $SINK

Sound Switcher Indicator

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:yktooo/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install indicator-sound-switcher

enter image description here

While pavucontrol provides more differentiated options (default/fallback device versus per-application device), this tool simply changes all the above to one device, but provides easier access. Its unilateral setting can be refined in pavucontrol if necessary.


I am on Xubuntu and i also faced this problem. I installed pulseaudio's manager and it works fine!


  • 1
    "The two utilities PulseAudio Manager and PulseAudio Device Chooser are obsolete and should not be used" (from PulseAudio Wiki) – Takkat Feb 29 '12 at 10:55

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