00-00 OSX for Musicians

Tips & Tricks for Musicians using Macs. Learn how to make your workflow more efficient with any software you use.



Before you start Beat Lab’s Curriculum it is very important to get familiar with the functionality and keyboard shortcuts your operation system offers.

This article is for OSX 10.10 and above. There will be new feature/shortcuts with future OSX releases.

If you are a new Mac user this article can save you a lot of time in the long run. If you are an experienced Mac user you might find some extra tricks here.

System Preferences

System Preferences


Here are our recommended settings for your system preferences:

Hide The Dock

You can position the Dock wherever you like but we do recommended to hide it automatically. This will ensure maximum workspace when using applications.


OSX Dock Hide

Mirroring Displays

Under Displays turn on “Show mirroring option in the menu bar when available”. This will give you quick access to mirror your display when using external monitors.


OSX Display mirroring

Switch to Never

If you are using mostly hardware gear to make your music. Turn off computer sleep and display sleep to make sure you don’t have to touch your computer to wake it up while making music.


OSX Energy Saver

Setup Secondary Click

If you are using the Trackpad make sure you enable secondary click which will give you access to all the context menus in applications. If this feature is disabled you can still access the context menus with Option+click.


Trackpad secendery click

Show Volume in Menu Bar

First make sure the volume control is available in the top menu bar this will allow us to quickly setup a different Audio Interface for OSX. If you want you can also turn off the feedback sound when you change the volume. We do require this feature to be turned off when we Jam.

OSX Sound

Disable Login Items

Under Users & Groups, in the Login Items tab, delete all logic items for faster computer restart.


Users & Groups OSX

Global Shortcuts
Cheat Sheet


Keyboard shortcut are an essential tool for efficient and fast professional workflow. It is highly recommended that you will start familiarizing yourself with the keyboard shortcuts that are available on your system.


Most of the keyboard shortcuts use modifier keys:

  • Command ⌘ (CMD)
  • Shift ⇧
  • Option ⌥
  • Control ⌃ (CNTRL)
  • Caps Lock ⇪
  • Fn


Here are some global shortcuts that will work in Finder and most applications:


  • Quickly Switch Between running apps: Hold CMD and hit Tab to select the next app or CMD+~ for the previous app
  • Switch Between Windows of the same app: CMD+~
  • Preferences: CMD+,
  • Saving a Document: CMD+S
  • New Document: CMD+N
  • Copy: CMD+C
  • Cut: CMD+X
  • Paste: CMD+V
  • Undo: CMD+Z
  • Redo: CMD+Shift+Z
  • Close Window: CMD+W
  • Quit Application: CMD+Q
  • Hide Application: CMD+H
  • Force Quit: CMD+OPTION+ESC
  • Select All Files: CMD+A
  • New Tab: CMD+T
  • Selecting Multiple Files: Hold CMD while selecting
  • Selecting all files/folder between two files/folders in the list: Hold Shift

Here is a cool app that will bring up a list of all available keyboard shortcuts for the focused software.

Spotlight Search

Spotlight Search


Spotlight can be a very useful tool to find any file or folder on your computer as well as other simple tasks like unit conversion and quick calculator access.

To use the Spotlight simply click on the magnifying glass icon on the top right corner.

The default shortcut is CMD+Space.


Spotlight Search Icon


Besides searching for the name of the file/folder you can also:


Filtered Search

If you are searching for a specific file and you know which type it is you can search for: *name of file* kind:*file type*

For example: invoice kind:document

Search by kind

spotlight search kind

Finding File’s Path

If you want to know where a file is. Simply hold CMD to reveal where the file is on your computer. You can also CMD+ double click the file in Spotlight to open it up in Finder.

Reveal File’s Path

Spotlight File path



You can type any any calculation straight into Spotlight

Type any Calculation

Spotlight Calculator


Type any unit value following by the unit marking and get instant conversion results.

Convert Units

Convert Units

Using the Finder

Finder is Apple’s file manager & explorer. It allows us to browse our computer with ease and efficiency.

Here are a few tips on using the Finder:

  • Quickly Open a new finder window with CMD+Tab to focus on Finder and then CMD+N to open a new window
  • Hit Enter to Rename a file/folder
  • Hit Space bar to preview a file
  • For quick location bookmark, simply drag the folder you want to the favorites section

potlight favorites


  • CMD+Double click to open in a new tab
  • CMD+I to show more details about the file using the inspector
  • In the top Menu, under View, Show the Path Bar and Statues Bar

spotlight show statues bar


Finder show path bar


  • There are 4 types of ways to show files in the finder. I find that the most useful one is the list. When using the list make sure you can quickly organize the files by Type, Date Modified and Size.

finder list options


finder list orgenize


  • To rename multiple files simple highlight all of them using CMD or Shift, then right click and choose “Rename # items”
  • Remember you can drag almost anything out of Finder and into application like your web browser or even Ableton Live

Even More Tips

  • To maximize a window without going to full screen hold Shift and double click the title of the window.
  • To quickly switch an Audio Interface (of OSX no your music software) hold Option and click the top menu bar volume control.

Menu Bar Volume Control change


  • To Show your hardrive on your desktop, click on your desktop then CMD+, to bring up Finder Preferences.

finder show hardrive on desktop


  • It is very important that you do regular maintenance on your computer. It is recommended to repair disk permission every month-3 months. To do so, Search for Disk Utility in the Spotlight. Then choose your hardrive and select Repair Disk Permissions.

Repeair Disk Permissions

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