Sosumi is an alert sound introduced by Jim Reekes in Apple Inc.'s Macintosh System 7 operating system in 1991. The name is derived from the phrase "so, sue me!" because of a long running court battle with Apple Corps, the similarly named music company, regarding the use of music in Apple Inc.'s computer products.


Sosumi is a short xylophone sample, which gained notoriety in computer folklore as a defiant pun name, in response to a long-running Apple Corps v Apple Computer trademark conflict.[1][2][3][4][5] The sound was long included in subsequent versions of its computer OS releases. However, in 2020 it was replaced in macOS Big Sur.

During the development of System 7, the two companies concluded a settlement agreement from an earlier dispute when Apple added a sound synthesis chip to its Apple IIGS machine.[6] As a result, Apple Computer was prohibited from using its trademark on "creative works whose principal content is music".

When new sounds for System 7 were created, the sounds were reviewed by Apple's Legal Department who objected that the new sound alert "chime" had a name that was "too musical", under a 1991 settlement. Jim Reekes, the creator of the new sound alerts for System 7, had grown frustrated with the legal scrutiny and first quipped it should be named "Let It Beep", a pun on "Let It Be". When someone remarked that that would not pass the Legal Department's approval, he remarked, "so sue me". After a brief reflection, he resubmitted the sound's name as sosumi (a homophone of "so sue me"). Careful to submit it in written form rather than spoken form to avoid pronunciation, he told the Legal Department that the name was Japanese and had nothing to do with music.[7][8][9]

In macOS Big Sur, the original chime was replaced with a different sample, named Sonumi (presumably a homophone of "so new me", due to the change in versioning from macOS 10.15 to macOS 11). The original name was retained in the first public version of the OS, and was later changed to "Sonumi" as it appears in the System Preferences. The sound file itself in /System/Library/Sounds/ is still named Sosumi.aiff, and other alert sounds (such as "Breeze" or "Crystal") still have the same file names from the previous macOS series (Blow.aiff and Glass.aiff).

In popular culture

The term is in the poem "A Short Address to the Academy of Silence" by Jay Parini.[10]

Apple used the CSS class name "sosumi" for formatting legal fine print on Apple product web pages.[11][12]

In 2006, Geek Squad used this sound in their commercial "Jet Pack", in which a woman was frustrated over her computer.[13]

The sound can be heard prominently in the introduction to The Simpsons episode Homer's Phobia (1997). The couch gag parodies the AOL Dial-up Internet access sign-on process, parodying it "America Onlink". On a System 7-like interface, the user clicks the "Load Family" button, getting to a stalled progress bar labeled "loading family". The unseen user, presumably frustrated with the delay, clicks an "Exit" button repeatedly, triggering "Sosumi" each time in response. At the time, AOL users suffered significant issues accessing the service after AOL moved from hourly billing to a flat monthly fee, saturating capacity.

See also


  1. ^ Jennifer Lee (August 19, 1999). "The Sound and the Fury: Beating Back the Beep". New York Times. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
  2. ^ Greg Mancina (May 14, 2001), "Ding, dong, now I've got your attention", Saginaw News, MI
  3. ^ Amy-Mae Elliott (October 18, 2010). "8 Classic Tech Sounds that Defined Our Digital World". Retrieved October 8, 2013.
  4. ^ S. Derrickson Moore (April 2, 2006), "Sometimes all those bells and whistles just give us a headache", Las Cruces Sun-News, NM, Sosumi" is such a strange word that I Googled it, searching for a definition, and got all sorts of references to lawsuits and defense attorneys. Really. I would have probed further but I don't like the sound anyway. So sue me.
  5. ^ Owen W. Linzmayer (2004). Apple Confidential 2.0. No Starch Press. p. 283. ISBN 9781593270100. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
  6. ^ Royal Courts of Justice (2004). "Judgment in Apple Corps Limited vs Apple Computer, Inc. - EWHC 768 (Ch) in Case No: HC-2003-C02428". Archived from the original on 2005-03-15. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
  7. ^ Jim Reekes describing the origins of the sosumi name (Vimeo)
  8. ^ Xeni Jardin (24 March 2005). "Early Apple sound designer Jim Reekes corrects Sosumi myth". Boing Boing. Archived from the original on 2005-06-01. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
  9. ^ Luke Dormehl (2012). The Apple Revolution. Random House. pp. 297–298. ISBN 9781448131365. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
  10. ^ "A Short Address to the Academy of Silence" Jay Parini, The Sewanee Review, Vol. 112, No. 3 (Summer, 2004), pp. 344-345
  11. ^ "The story behind "Sosumi" the Mac's startup sound". November 11, 2010. Archived from the original on 2010-11-25. Retrieved October 21, 2016.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  12. ^ "apple_legal_text_css.png". Archived from the original on 2014-03-02. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  13. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "GeekSquad "Jet Pack" Commercial". YouTube. 2006-06-19. Retrieved 2020-07-02.