A simple volume control

What it is

Volume.app is a small graphical software utility enabling quick and convenient control of a computer's audio volume level. It is intended for use on Linux/Unix systems in conjunction with an X window manager that supports dockable applications ("dockapps") such as AfterStep, BlackBox, or Window Maker.

It is a refinement of an idea that first appeared in Timecop's WMix: a user interface comprising a "knob" that can be interactively "turned" by clicking and dragging the mouse. I found this approach quite appealing, both from an aesthetic viewpoint, and (more importantly) from a user-interface perspective.

[Image of sample dockapp with tiny
sliders] A handful of other dockapp volume control programs are out there, and I have tried many of them. An interface element present in most of these is some form of "slider" as the primary means of adjusting the volume. (A fictitious example may be seen at right). To my dismay, with this kind of interface, volume adjustments tended to be large and abrupt. Because the slider was so small, raising or lowering the volume "just a bit" required extremely careful control of the mouse-- a slip of the hand had the potential to spike the volume to full blast. (I have a set of Altec-Lansing ACS48 speakers which make this a rather unpleasant experience). This approach left much to be desired.

[Image of Timecop's WMix dockapp] I longed for an alternative, and upon playing with WMix (pictured at left) I had found it. The knob was genius in that it provided a means of graphically adjusting the volume, as a slider would, without tying itself directly to the motion of the mouse. The basic mode of usage is identical: you click on the thing and drag the mouse up or down. However, with the knob, the range of motion need not be confined to the postage-stamp-sized area of the dockapp. The mouse travel needed to cover the entire range of volume settings can be made longer, on the order of the full height of the screen-- almost like a much larger, easier-to-use slider. No longer were precise movements needed to make volume adjustments!

Still, I found WMix's interface to be a bit busy (never was a fan of tiny little buttons) and the all-important knob was yet a rather small target to find with the mouse. So, I grabbed a copy of the WMix source code, and rebuilt it into a dockapp that had a much larger knob as its sole interface element. I dubbed it Volume.app, and have placed it here for the benefit of everyone.

How to use it

Volume.app displays on the screen a graphic of a volume knob, as might be seen on a high-end stereo A/V receiver. The position of the knob reflects the current volume level.




The knob may be interactively turned using a mouse input device. The user hovers the mouse cursor over the knob, clicks and holds the left mouse button, and drags the mouse up (to increase the volume) or down (to decrease it).

The volume may also be muted/unmuted by double-clicking the left button over the knob. When muted, the red LED indicator on the knob goes dark.



(The knob may also be turned while in the muted state, and be thereby unmuted in a different position)

What it requires

Volume.app requires a Linux/Unix system running X11 and an Open Sound System (OSS)-compatible sound driver. It does not need to be used with any particular window manager in order to be useful, although using it with one that explicitly supports dockapps will naturally give the best results.


Latest source code release (filelist page)


SourceForge project page

Volume.app is free software, made available under the GNU General Public License. It was written by Daniel Richard G. to satisfy his own desire for a dockable volume control that does not require surgical precision to use!


This project is generously hosted by SourceForge