You know how when you plug headphones into your laptop's aux jack, the internal speakers are automatically muted and the sounds comes out of your headphones? I want exactly that for HDMI.

I connect a monitor with built-in speakers to my laptop to watch videos, sometimes. It's very weird when the video is on the monitor (which is placed 3 m away from my desk) but the sound comes out of my laptop's internal speakers (laptop sits on the desk).

Of course, I can just go to the sound settings and switch the output channel to HDMI. But then, later on, when I removed the HDMI cable hours ago and might even be in a totally different location, the sound won't play because the sound server still tries to play it via HDMI but there isn't anything connected to it.

Automatically switching back to the internal speakers when no device is connected via HDMI is more important but switching to sound output via HDMI when a device is connected would still be very nice.

This apparently worked with 11.10 but it doesn't work with 16.04.

  • Having a short-cut key to toggle the sound might be a good solution for you. The second answer on this thread does that: askubuntu.com/questions/41858/… Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 0:58
  • i'm still looking for a solution to that as well (on 16.04; none of the suggested solutions work). the problem is also discussed in the mint forum. Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 9:07
  • @hiroprotagonist Yes, me too. It seems that the answer here works in most cases but not in all.
    – UTF-8
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 13:36
  • Actually automatically switching worked in Ubuntu 14.04, unless this had been disabled by an update.
    – BurninLeo
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 12:14
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Set HDMI sound output automatically on connect/disconnect Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 16:01

1 Answer 1



I had a similar problem during suspend/resume when sound would switch from HDMI TV to laptop speakers. Upon resume sound would stay on Laptop speakers and I would have to manually reset output device to TV in System Settings -> Sound.

This was one of my first annoying experiences with upgrade from Ubuntu 14.04 to 16.04 and the root was upgrade to PulseAudio 8 that comes with 16.04 LTS

After much searching I created a script called TV-sound. Although I don't plug and unplug the TV like yourself, I did some google searches and create a variation of the script to work in your situation. I've tested it and it works.

Step 1: Create script to switch audio between connected devices

We'll create a script called hotplugtv which udev calls. This same script can be called in many places though. For example, during testing I used it in lock-screen-timer where sound reverted back to Laptop during screen lock.

cd /usr/local/bin
sudo touch hotplugtv
sudo chmod +x hotplugtv
gksu gedit hotplugtv

When the editor opens with a blank screen, copy and paste the following into it:

#! /bin/bash

# NAME: hotplugtv
# PATH: /usr/local/bin
# DESC: Update pulseaudio output device when HDMI TV plugged / unplugged
# CALL: called from /etc/udev/rules.d/99-monitor-hotplug.rules
# DATE: Created Nov 26, 2016.
# NOTE: logs output using log-file
# UPDT: Dec 14, 2016 - Sometimes /sys/class/drm/card0 & sometimes /sys/class/drm/card1
#       so use /sys/class/dmcard* instead.

if [[ $(cat /sys/class/drm/card*-HDMI-A-1/status | grep -Ec "^connected") -eq 1 ]]; then
#        log-file "HDMI TV connected" ~/bin/log-hotplugtv;
        /bin/sleep 2;
        export PULSE_RUNTIME_PATH="/run/user/1000/pulse/";
        sudo -u rick -E pacmd set-card-profile 0 output:hdmi-stereo;
#        log-file "HDMI TV disconnected" ~/bin/log-hotplugtv;
        export PULSE_RUNTIME_PATH="/run/user/1000/pulse/";
        sudo -u rick -E pacmd set-card-profile 0 output:analog-stereo;

exit 0

You will need to replace the two occurrences of rick with your own user id, ie UTF-8, etc.

I know this can be more professional with user name automatically set to a bash variable but I'm not that skilled yet :( Anyway, save the file and exit gedit.

Step 2: Create udev rules

udev monitors hotplug events when you plug in and unplug your HDMI monitor. Type the following to create a new rule.

cd /etc/udev/rules.d
sudo cp 70-persistent-net.rules 99-hotplugtv.rules
gksu gedit 99-hotplugtv.rules

NOTE: If the file 70-persistent-net.rules doesn't exist in your directory copy any other file there. We don't need the file contents, just the file permissions to ensure ours are the same.

The editor will show a bunch of irrelevant text, highlight it and delete it. Then highlight the code below and paste it into the editor:

# NAME: 99-hotplugtv.rules
# PATH: /etc/udev/rules.d
# DESC: Update pulseaudio output device when HDMI TV plugged / unplugged
# CALL: automatically called on system events
# DATE: Created Nov 26, 2016.
# NOTE: in future may requre systemd service hooks

ACTION=="change", SUBSYSTEM=="drm", ENV{HOTPLUG}=="1", RUN+="/usr/local/bin/hotplugtv"

Save the file and exit.

To enable the rule (without rebooting) we need to reload udev:

sudo udevadm control --reload-rules

Now you can plug and unplug your HDMI monitor / TV and the sound switches appropriately.


On my system the sound automatically reverts to the Laptop speakers when HDMI is unplugged. On your system it did not. Further enhancements to the code may be required if sound doesn't go to your Laptop speakers when HDMI is unplugged. Please reply via comment below how things work / don't work out.

Quick testing in CLI

You can quickly test the code at the terminal by using:

    export PULSE_RUNTIME_PATH="/run/user/1000/pulse/";
  • Switch to HDMI / TV:

        sudo -u rick -E pacmd set-card-profile 0 output:hdmi-stereo;
  • Switch back to built in speakers:

        sudo -u rick -E pacmd set-card-profile 0 output:analog-stereo;
  • Remember to replace rick with your user name.

  • The initial export line probably isn't necessary but I've included it just to be safe.
  • If you have multiple sound cards, or something other than hdmi-stereo tweaks are obviously needed to find out the correct parameters before writing your script.

Deciphering your device name within PulseAudio

The code below uses the same command twice. Once when the sound is set to external HDMI TV. A second time when the sound is set to the Laptop's built in speakers. Each time you see the name PulseAudio uses:

$ pacmd list-sinks | grep -e 'name:' -e 'index'
  * index: 28
    name: <alsa_output.pci-0000_00_1b.0.hdmi-stereo>
$ pacmd list-sinks | grep -e 'name:' -e 'index'
  * index: 30
    name: <alsa_output.pci-0000_00_1b.0.analog-stereo>

When you have multiple sound cards

Use the command aplay -l to see if you have cards greater than number 0. If so you will need to use appropriate card number in your scripts. For example:

$ aplay -l
**** List of PLAYBACK Hardware Devices ****
card 0: PCH [HDA Intel PCH], device 0: 92HD91BXX Analog [92HD91BXX Analog]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 0: PCH [HDA Intel PCH], device 3: HDMI 0 [HDMI 0]
  Subdevices: 0/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0

In the above example all card numbers are 0 with different output sources. If you have USB speakers they can have a different card number than 0.

Edit December 2, 2016

For some unknown reason the script was broken today. Above code used to read: "$(cat /sys/class/drm/card0-HDMI-A-1/status" but I had to change card0 to card1 and the code above has been revised as such. I can't explain what changed on my system other than regular Ubuntu updates since November 26, 2016.

Edit December 14, 2016

Above code needed to be switched again back to: "$(cat /sys/class/drm/card0-HDMI-A-1/status". Instead of revising code between card0 and card1 depending on boot, revise program to reference card* to capture both scenarios.

  • I can't copy 70-persistent-net.rules because it doesn't exist. /etc/udev/rules.d only contains a single file called 39-smfp_samsung.rules.
    – UTF-8
    Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 14:06
  • Oh well copy 30-smfp_samsung.rules, we dont need the file contents only to make sure we have the right permissions for our new file. Copying an existing file is the easiest way (for me anyways). Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 14:21
  • 1
    It doesn't work on my system. @ Person who already upvoted this answer: Does it work on your? | I first tried it without rebooting but it didn't work. It doesn't worker after rebooting, either. I had HDMI disconnected and set the sound to the internal speakers before rebooting. After rebooting, I played some music and connected my HDMI cable. The music still (only) came out of the built-in speakers. Do you have to change anything other than the 2 occurrences of the username? cat /sys/class/drm/card0-HDMI-A-1/status shows the correct status (I tried several times).
    – UTF-8
    Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 14:45
  • @UTF-8 I've added a new section where you can test switching at the command line. Can you run this and see if errors come out please? Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 14:50
  • There seems to be no output:analog-stereo: pastebin.com/n5bHyhCm This makes it even weirder because then I'd expect the sound to always be played via HDMI. Screenshots of my sound settings when HDMI is connected and when HDMI isn't connected. Edit: I already tried this but it took me a few more minutes to post this comment because I had to upload the screenshots.
    – UTF-8
    Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 14:50

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