If someone asked me where I live, some days I'd be tempted to say "in front of my Mac". I spend a lot of time with my Mac and there are so many little things I've picked up about using OS X (I still can't get used to calling it "macOS") as my working environment that I'm sure it is this which means I put up with the limited hardware choices and the extortionate pricing which go with using a Mac these days. I don't like it but I like the idea of re-learning all of the things which make using OS X second nature to me even less!
macOS Audio Tips
I've written a couple of posts like this before, they were very popular but both were a long time ago. I've compiled a top 5 from the previous posts. There are some lifesavers in here!
Suppress The Plips
Really useful if you ever run audio at live events. When adjusting playback volume of the built-in audio using F11 and 12, you can suppress the plips by holding shift. While I’ll always be uncomfortable with running any source with a mini-jack through a PA system it's got a habit of happening more than I'd like. At least this can be used to hide the fact from the audience.
Fine Control Of Volume
In some applications, the jumps in volume from the built-in output can be a bit coarse, especially if your gain structure isn’t as it should be. While using a variable attenuator to trim the level would be better if you need finer adjustment from F11 and 12, press option+shift.
Straight to Sound Prefs
Option-click the speaker icon on the menu bar to quickly change audio settings from a drop-down menu of all available input and output devices. Alternatively option+F10, 11 or 12 opens the sound section of System Preferences. Any of the volume Exposé keys will do, this also works using Option+F1 or 2 for display settings if that’s somewhere you need to go regularly. If Exposé is disabled in Mission Control (as it should be on a Pro Tools machine) you will need to press Fn to get the F keys to revert to their default Exposé behaviour.
Play Stereo Audio As Mono
Go to System Prefs - Accessibility - Audio. Of course, we can do this using our DAWs but stereo can be a mixed blessing when playing audio to large groups as inevitably some people will only hear one of the two channels if sitting too far from the centre of the room. This is exactly why many PA systems run in mono. Things like this should be done at the mixing console but often people find themselves running events with nothing more than a large audience and a mini-jack hanging out a wall!
No More iTunes
Change file association for audio files from iTunes to Quicktime Player or VLC. Along with all the standard OS X tweaks which a Pro Tools machine ought to have I find this is a must. Although it is inadvisable to use Finder to manage the audio files in a Pro Tools session there are still plenty of times I find myself auditioning audio in Finder. iTunes is invasive and far too slow to open compared to a simple player. Quickview has made this less of a must than it used to be, but this is still useful when working with multiple files.
Finder and macOS Tips
These aren't specific to Audio but are useful to me while I'm doing audio - So in a way they are audio tips...
Instant Black Screen
Don't mix with your eyes! To temporarily switch off your Mac's display, hit Ctrl+Shift+Eject. Press any key or click the mouse to bring it back. I've joked on the podcast about using the studio tea-towel to stop mixing with your eyes, there was a shortcut there all the time. Great!
Shut Down using Ctrl+Opt+CMD+Eject.
I've used this for years as in past jobs I often found myself switching off entire rooms full of Macs. Annoyingly it doesn't work from the login screen. I can't remember the last time I used a mouse to shut down my Mac.
Single Get Info Window
CMD+Option+I to get info for multiple files. While not specifically an audio feature I have found this to be a great timesaver when I want to inspect the properties of multiple files in Finder. Instead of using CMD+I to open a separate Get Info window for each file, CMD+Opt+I opens a single Get Info window, the contents of which update to follow the selected file in Finder.
Preview in list view
Using Shift+CMD+P you can toggle the preview column in a Finder window. This is really useful in List view!
Move Windows Without Switching Focus
You can move a window without bringing it to the foreground by holding Command as you drag it around. A quicker alternative to Command-tabbing between applications.
CMD+Click To Show Path
If I want to know where the file I'm working on is on my drive, command clicking on the title icon in the active window.
This works for Finder windows and in most applications.
Do Not Disturb
You can disable notifications in OS X by clicking on the notifications icon in the top right of your screen. do Not disturb can be scheduled too but I've found just Option-clicking the icon to temporarily suspend notifications is all I need. It greys out to indicate it is suspended, just Option+Click on it again to restore.
Merge All Finder Windows
It's easy after a few hours of tearing around your computer to end up with many, many open Finder windows. Consolidate them all into tabs in a single window using this menu command.
I hope you've found something new in these. Do you have any tips you'd like to share with the commuity?