Using bash, how can I make the pc speaker beep?

Something like echo 'beepsound' > /dev/pcspkr would be nice.


12 Answers 12


I usually use the little utility beep installed on many systems. This command will try different approaches to create a system sound.

There are 3 ways of creating a sound from the beep manpage:

  1. The traditional method of producing a beep in a shell script is to write an ASCII BEL (\007) character to standard output, by means of a shell command such as

    echo -ne '\007'

    This only works if the calling shell's standard output is currently directed to a terminal device of some sort; if not, the beep will produce no sound and might even cause unwanted corruption in whatever file the output is directed to.

  2. There are other ways to cause a beeping noise. A slightly more reliable method is to open /dev/tty and send your BEL character there. This is robust against I/O redirection, but still fails in the case where the shell script wishing to generate a beep does not have a controlling terminal, for example because it is run from an X window manager.

  3. A third approach is to connect to your X display and send it a bell command. This does not depend on a Unix terminal device, but does (of course) require an X display.

beep will simply try these 3 methods.

  • 17
    The homepage to the beep command is: johnath.com/beep On Ubuntu/Debian, you can install it with apt-get install beep. Commented Sep 13, 2010 at 11:48
  • 19
    On linux, there is a fourth badass method for beeping: unload the pcspkr module, load the snd-pcsp, and you now have a alsa soundcard that uses old-school tricks to actually feed digital sound to your internal speaker. It gives crappy results with piezoelectric internal speakers, but on classical internal speakers, the quality is quite good for what it is. This way, you can get much more creative for your beep sounds ;)
    – BatchyX
    Commented Jan 19, 2013 at 15:18
  • 8
    @isomorphismes: pcspkr and snd-pcsp are modules, not packages. use modprobe/modprobe -r/lsmod to manipulate them. For your information, they are in the linux-image-something package, which is hopefully already installed (or else you would have no linux kernel).
    – BatchyX
    Commented Aug 24, 2013 at 16:17
  • 3
    beep usually works out the box for debian but I needed to load the module for this to work on ubuntu
    – mchid
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 23:06
  • 5
    As mchid said, after adding the module: modprobe snd-pcsp, beep is now working!
    – lepe
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 1:19

NOTE: This solution emits beeps from the speakers, not the motherboard.

ALSA comes with speaker-test, a command-line speaker test tone generator, which can be used to generate a beep:

$ speaker-test -t sine -f 1000 -l 1

See this arch linux forum thread.

However, the beep duration will be arbitrary, but can be controlled as follows:

$ ( speaker-test -t sine -f 1000 )& pid=$! ; sleep 0.1s ; kill -9 $pid

We can take it one step further and output a beep with this function:

_alarm() {
  ( \speaker-test --frequency $1 --test sine )&
  \sleep 0.${2}s
  \kill -9 $pid

which is called with frequency and duration arguments:

$ _alarm 400 200

With this in mind, it is possible to create simple music with speaker-test. See this shell script.

  • 5
    Your function as one-liner (and Ctrl-C compatible): timeout ${2} speaker-test --frequency ${1} --test sine
    – user569825
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 22:13
  • 9
    There's no real need to save pid, just speaker-test -t sine -f 1000 -l 1 & sleep .2 && kill -9 $! does the same thing. Anyway, @user569825's method is nicer.
    – m3nda
    Commented Jul 8, 2018 at 18:43
  • 14
    Ouch, that hurts.
    – Shadi
    Commented Oct 16, 2019 at 12:11
  • 2
    On my system (ubuntu 16.04), timeout needs to have -s set to some signal because speaker-test doesn't respect sig term.
    – Tad M.
    Commented Jun 5, 2020 at 12:56
  • 1
    @RyneEverett your alarm.sh is maybe now here ? alarm.sh
    – SL5net
    Commented Oct 7, 2020 at 9:23

Simply echoing \a or \07 works for me.

$ echo -e "\a"

This will probably require the pcspkr kernel module to be loaded. I've only tested this on RHEL, so YMMV.


As Warren pointed out in the comments, this may not work when logged in remotely via SSH. A quick workaround would be to redirect the output to any of the TTY devices (ideally one that is unused). E.g.:

$ echo -en "\a" > /dev/tty5
  • 6
    If you're using an X terminal or ssh'd into the machine, this may just cause the terminal to flash, since many xterm/vt100 type programs are configured to do that for BEL characters. Commented Sep 13, 2010 at 10:52
  • 2
    This makes sense but it didn't work for me on Ubuntu 12.04. Commented Aug 24, 2013 at 16:12
  • 3
    @isomorphismes: that's for consoles, not X11 terminals. For beeps under X, you may try this: askubuntu.com/a/587311/11015
    – MestreLion
    Commented Feb 19, 2015 at 12:21
  • 2
    @isomorphismes: I'm also using Ubuntu 12.04, and for me sudo modprobe pcspkr was enough to enable beeps under the VT, either via printf "\a" or beep utility.
    – MestreLion
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 1:28
  • 3
    None of the methods work for me. Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS
    – ar2015
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 15:52
tput bel

because terminfo defines bel as

           Variable                       Cap-               TCap                  Description
            String                        name               Code

   bell                                   bel                bl                audible signal
                                                                               (bell) (P)

For using the soundcard if sox is installed and the PC speaker if not:

$ play -q -n synth 0.1 sin 880 || echo -e "\a"

sox is available for most distros.

  • 2
    +1 I did not know that play had this feature. I ended up using this in a then block within watch to notify me once a certain condition was met. Even lets me keep my headphones on. This was very useful to me. Commented May 12, 2017 at 14:24
  • From a bash sh play will probably need sudo -u USER play...
    – intika
    Commented Oct 2, 2018 at 3:08
  • On my system, play uses pulseaudio, as a user. I guess it depends on system configuration.
    – Alexander
    Commented Oct 2, 2018 at 10:02
  • 2
    This is a great solution. Not only does it work without having to load any modules in any terminal but it's also very variable. You could have a script have different notifcation sounds very easily. Changing the 0.1 will change the length of the sound, lots of possibilities! (Make sure to run this script as the user under which pulseaudio is running, if you use pulseaudio. If you don't or can't, there are two workarounds. One is to run PA system wide (not recommended), one is to allow other users to access PA.)
    – confetti
    Commented Dec 21, 2019 at 13:34
  • 1
    if you get warning: play WARN alsa: can't encode 0-bit Unknown or not applicable then you should do export AUDIODRIVER=alsa to remove the warning. Cheers! Commented Nov 21, 2023 at 10:01

"Beep can only work if your PC has a traditional old style "speaker", and probably most if not all laptops and small devices don't have one.

However what they often have instead is a sound chip and one or more speaker(s) that can be used to make any sound you want.

So the outdated advise to install the beep command and/or the kernel module pcspkr will silently never work when you don't have the old style speaker hardware.

INSTEAD: Try playing a sound like this when you want a beep:

paplay /usr/share/sounds/sound-icons/capital

Note this uses the paplay (Pulse Audio Play) command which mixes better with other user level (user app) sounds on your system, and not the older aplay (ALSA Play) command which generally can only play one sound at the same time. But note however, that PulseAudio calls ALSA to actually play the sound.

My previous suggestion to use play might still work, but running SoX of which play is from, is overkill.

Works for me when all else failed. Thanks to: tredegar & hk_centos and others.

  • 2
    Nice! The command is available on a fresh (rather) installation of Linux Mint 20. Commented Sep 7, 2021 at 21:56
  • Now that PipeWire has replaced PulseAudio, should this answer be updated? Or, should we just go back to using play from sox since it works the same way on all Unix systems?
    – hackerb9
    Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 5:12

Some distros have command-line utilities to achieve this. Maybe you could tell us what distro you are on, or search (e.g. emerge -s beep in gentoo).

Going beyond "available" utils, you could also make a Perl script that emits the beep, all you need to do is include:

print "\007";

If you do end up getting 'beep', try out the following:

#! /bin/sh 

beep -f 500 -l 700 
beep -f 480 -l 400 
beep -f 470 -l 250 
beep -f 530 -l 300 -D 100 
beep -f 500 -l 300 -D 100 
beep -f 500 -l 300 
beep -f 400 -l 600 
beep -f 300 -l 500 
beep -f 350 -l 700 
beep -f 250 -l 600
  • 1
    I like my questions to remain distro-agnostic, would echo -e "\007" work in bash instead of print "\007 in perl?
    – Stefan
    Commented Sep 13, 2010 at 10:35
  • 2
    @Stefan - Beep is pretty much 'universal'. You can, however, remain distro agnostic by using 'echo -e "\a"' or 'echo -e "\07"'. Cheers! Commented Sep 13, 2010 at 19:13
  • 5
    It would be more portable to use printf '\007' instead of echo. Commented Sep 14, 2010 at 21:58

On Linux, tools like beep can use an ioctl on the console device to emit a given sound. To be more specific, beep will use the KIOCSOUND ioctl, but there is also a KDMKTONE ioctl which can be used to generate sound.

As I understand it, the former starts a sound which lasts until it's explicitly cancelled, while the latter will create a beep of pre-determined duration. See the console_ioctl(4) man page for details.

So if you are unhappy with what beep does, you could write a few lines of code to access these ioctls directly. Assuming you have full access to /dev/console, which might well require root privileges.

  • 1
    Only works if an internal speaker is available Commented Jun 30, 2020 at 11:12


echo -n Ctrl+V Ctrl+G

The downside is that this will work only when the output device is a terminal, so it may not work inside a cron job, for instance. (But if you are root you might be able redirect to /dev/console for immediate beeping.)


The only solution that worked for me on mint (thanks to @alexander above)

alias beep='play -q -n synth 0.1 sin 880 >& /dev/null'
  • Worked for me on Debian, and I just put that line in a little bash script, and installed it with full path and a dummy argument in Alacritty, in the bell section.
    – McUsr
    Commented Feb 25, 2023 at 2:08
  • Just FYI, that will only work if sox is installed on the Mint system. Commented Mar 10 at 0:28

In a terminal, press Ctrl+G and then Enter

  • 2
    In my terminal (gnome-terminal), it works without the Enter. Just as a test of PC speaker, this looks fine to me. It is utterly useless in scripts, though.
    – Palec
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 16:28
  • Surprising downvotes. This does work on some PC's, it might not work on all though. Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 22:14
  • It doesn't work on rxvt, urxvt, xterm, lxterm or lxterminal, shouldn't my terminal at least flash if it has a visual bell?
    – Willem
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 13:44
  • It does work on xterm
    – Chris
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 3:55

KDE Plasma (5.18) Konsole app

Settings (menu) > Configure Notifications > Bell in Focused Session

Check "play a sound" and select an associated audio file

echo -e "\a"

etc should then work.

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