No matter what daw you're using, it must be hosted in an operating system. OS X is a popular choice for many reasons but some of its most useful features get overlooked by plenty of producers. In this article I'll call attention to some that I wish I had learned sooner than I did because they've been so useful for making music on the back end & organizational side.

batch rename

Batch rename is one of the most helpful features I didn't know about for a long time. Select multiple files & right click to rename them all at once in finder, which can be a glorious time-saver in organizing samples. Three modes are offered:

batch rename in osx
  • replace text - I find this useful to clean up unwanted text in file names - audio that was bounced down in ableton via freeze/flatten, for example, will have (Freeze) appended to the back of the file name. By typing (Freeze) in the text to replace & nothing in the "replace with" section, the unwanted goop can be edited out of the file names.
  • add text - Great if you want to label all of your samples in some way - "clap", for example, to organize all claps samples, or a date appended to the end.
  • format - Another great sample organizer, you can quickly change the names of all samples & label them numerically by prepending or appending a number.

aggregate device

Most affordable interfaces have just 2 outputs, which is limiting but often sufficient for home studio use. In many live scenarios, however, 2 outputs can be downright prohibitive: if you dj without a dedicated controller's built-in interface you have to choose between stereo output & no cue or mono output with a cue. That's a compromise you don't want to have to make & fortunately you don't have to with this simple tool.

how to create aggregate device osx

Launch audio midi setup to create an aggregate device. you can add your interface & system output so you can cue out of your laptop's headphone jack. While using an aggregate device can introduce a small amount of latency, this will be negligible for most applications.

file preview

No doubt you've run across the preview button on the icon of a media file. but while it's a really handy feature for quickly checking the contents of an audio clip, it can be frustrating to not have control over playback, especially on a longer file. I only realized recently that you can press the spacebar on a selected file to bring up the full preview player - you still don't have to fully launch an application to listen but you'll be able to adjust the playback position. Also cool is that it will seamlessly pick up where the icon preview left off & if you collapse the player with another spacebar press the icon will continue playing.

file preview osx

time machine

Last week my hard drive became corrupted & my mac would not boot up. I would have lost everything had it not been for my time machine backup.  I can't stress enough how important it is to back up files as a music producer; it's the macro form of versioning. Not only will apple's proprietary backup system save you in the event of a crash (as it did me), time machine will also allow you to browse through your folders' histories & recover lost or deleted files on a case-by-case basis - you just need to open up Time Machine while a finder window is open.

how to use time machine osx

To set up Time Machine, I recommend creating a second partition on an external hard drive & dedicating it as your backup & this can easily be done using disk utility. Henceforth, every time you plug your hard drive into your mac, OS X will automatically back up your files for you - you won't have to remember to do it periodically if you continue to use the first partition as a normal portable drive as many producers do. I have my backup hard drive plugged into my router so I'm constantly sync'ing without having to plug in a hard drive at all.

using file tags

You may or may not have ignored the color tags in OS X but they can be an extremely handy organizational tool. Notice how no matter where the files are located, they assemble according to color in the tags list. This is potentially huge for keeping track of particularly good samples or projects to put on the to-do list, so try it out if you haven't.

osx color tag files


I've seen far too many producers fail to take advantage of spotlight so I thought it worth a quick mention here at the end. By just pressing cmd + spacebar, all of your applications & files are just a few keystrokes away. I use this to launch just about everything, & it's a nice workflow enhancement that can also save you loads of clicking around when searching for that lost sample or project. Also, as reddit user r/NIFPICT points out, you can press cmd + enter to open a file's folder rather than opening the file. another great trick to keep in mind when handling samples. 

OS X spotlight search

Got any osx tricks I didn't mention? let me know via twitter!