I am using external USB audio card to handle speakers, also got the headphones connected to jack port. I need to switch them few times a day and getting extremely frustrated, as the only way I've found is:

  1. Open search tool.
  2. Type: se.
  3. Click on 'Settings'.
  4. Navigate to 'Sound'.
  5. Change output to desired one.

On Unity I could navigate to 'Sounds Settings' from the audio icon in the tray. No idea how to do that on GNOME. Other than this finding GNOME superior to Unity. Happy that Canonical made that move.

  • 6
    If I were you I would've been more careful! The last two sentences may start a riot! ;)
    – pomsky
    Oct 28, 2017 at 17:41
  • Almost two years later I wonder if you are still madly in love with GNOME? Sep 18, 2019 at 23:21
  • @WinEunuuchs2Unix Another two years since your comment. I don't think I was ever madly in love with any Linux GUI. After all these years you just get used to all these quirks. Oct 12, 2022 at 9:58
  • @NeverEndingQueue Oh. Another 12 hours since your comment I'm still using Unity and only have to reboot once every couple months due to Firefox or some video player. Oct 12, 2022 at 22:41

3 Answers 3


You may use the Sound Input & Output Device Chooser GNOME shell extension.

(The extension) Shows a list of sound output and input devices (similar to gnome sound settings) in the status menu below the volume slider. Various active ports like HDMI , Speakers etc. of the same device are also displayed for selection.

enter image description here
(screenshot source: extension's homepage at extensions.gnome.org)

You may visit its GitHub page for more info.

Refer to this to learn more about installing and managing GNOME Shell extensions: How do I install and manage GNOME Shell extensions?

  • 2
    That works really well thanks. For those not familiar how to install GNOME extensions, I recommend this guide: ubuntuhandbook.org/index.php/2017/10/… Oct 29, 2017 at 18:05
  • 7
    This also works for Ubuntu 18.04 Apr 30, 2018 at 20:01
  • 1
    Still working on Ubuntu 19.04 -> PopOS 19.04
    – Vlax
    Sep 2, 2019 at 8:36
  • 5
    I confirm that this works in Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.
    – Flimm
    Jul 1, 2020 at 8:56

You can use the Sound Switcher Indicator from Dmitry Kann's PPA

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

From the OMG Ubuntu article:

Sound Switcher axes the need to use System Settings and, in just two clicks, lets me hop between audio input and output devices straight from the system tray.

screenshot showing menu dropdown from indicator icon with audio options

  • Looks like it's an indicator for Unity. Does this work with GNOME shell in Ubuntu 17.10?
    – pomsky
    Oct 29, 2017 at 14:03
  • @pomsky I tested it on ubuntu 18.10 and it works. It's also worth noting that the extension in the top answer has last been updated for gnome 3.22, it doesn't look like a still alive project anymore.
    – dsSTORM
    Oct 24, 2018 at 8:21
  • 1
    @dsSTORM It's been updated for later GNOME shell versions (probably not available at extensions.gnome.org yet, their review process sometimes takes too long!). Also it doesn't look like the developer is completely abandoning the project right now (refer to this).
    – pomsky
    Oct 24, 2018 at 8:30
  • @pomsky hmm, Yes it's even already updated for 3.30, it's only the the version on the extensions site that is stuck at 3.22
    – dsSTORM
    Oct 24, 2018 at 8:53
  • Words well in Ubuntu 22.04 LTS Dec 2, 2022 at 8:29

An older tool, but coming with more options than indicator-sound-switcher (and without the need for a new PPA), is pasystray.

sudo apt install pasystray

It should be launched as PulseAudio System Tray.

You could add pasystray to startup programs list.

The output switch is under "Playback Stream" section.

enter image description here

Beside the fact it doesn't need a new PPA it also has a lot of supplementary options.

  • 2
    Installs right away, but did not show all outputs on my machine (Ubuntu 19.10). Dec 10, 2019 at 18:22
  • I don't fully understand the way gnome handles sound devices but it seems to be incompatible with pulseaudio frontends in the sense that once you've adjusted anything in pulseaudio, gnomes volume controls no longer work or they do strange things. Oct 27, 2022 at 8:15

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