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I would like to play a short sound file from the command line in Mac OS X, independent of any audio player application, in order to provide notification that a long job has finished.

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up vote 24 down vote accepted

There is a built-in tool: afplay <sound file>. The man page does not document all of its options, which can be found via afplay -h:

afplay [option...] audio_file

Options: (may appear before or after arguments)
  {-v | --volume} VOLUME
    set the volume for playback of the file
  {-h | --help}
    print help
  { --leaks}
    run leaks analysis
  {-t | --time} TIME
    play for TIME seconds
  {-r | --rate} RATE
    play at playback rate
  {-q | --rQuality} QUALITY
    set the quality used for rate-scaled playback (default is 0 - low quality, 1 - high quality)
  {-d | --debug}
    debug print output

It will not play more than one audio file.

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afplay sometimes has this bug:… . Are there any alternatives? – tog22 Jan 13 '15 at 12:48
Careful with the -v option: a value of 1 seems to mean "100%"! – doctaphred Apr 8 at 17:52

One time, when the power went off at work, knowing that my firewall would return to that last state (powered on) when the electricty came back on, I wrote a script in bash that used the say command to wake me up when the power came back on.

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I love abusing the say command. – NReilingh Jun 16 '11 at 21:17
Indeed, say is relevant to this sort of problem and a good alternate solution. Have a vote! I was looking specifically for playing a short sound, though, as hearing a phrase would get tiresome for my use case. – Kevin Reid Jun 18 '11 at 4:58

Have you considered printf "\a\a\a" or echo -e "\a\a\a"?

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