General Help , SAath , Troubleshooting

2a. macOS Optimization Guide for Recording (step 1)

Posted On12/12/2019
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These are suggested tweaks for Mac OS 10.15. But most are also applicable to 10.12 or higher versions.

macOS System Preferences optimizations:

Producing music on a Mac typically means connecting external Audio or MIDI devices and then synchronizing them with your DAW software. Macs are built to handle audio production but require some additional configuration to maintain system performance. While every setup is a little bit different, the optimizations below will prevent common performance issues and keep your system synchronized. Continue below to configure your macOS System Preferences for working with audio or music.

General Settings:

There aren’t many General preferences that affect your devices or DAW software, but you may want to disable Handoff to prevent unintended connections with your other Apple devices.

Desktop & Screen Saver:

The Desktop and Screen Saver preferences do not negatively affect performance bandwidth, but you may choose to use a simple background and no screensaver for optimization.

Disable Gatekeeper:

The Gatekeeper feature on macOS keeps your Mac safe from installing software from third-party developers. When installing trusted drivers or DAW software/updates, allow them access to macOS. You can also allow access after installation by going to the General menu within Security & Privacy. Learn more from Apple about how to safely open apps on your Mac.


In the Privacy menu, remove all listed drives so your apps can access them with Spotlight features. Select the drives and click the – icon.


macOS notifications are useful automatic reminders. While they do not severely impact your Mac’s performance they can play sounds and be a distraction. For optimum performance and without distractions, disable all unnecessary notifications and select “None” for each Calendar alert style.


Use the optimal resolution for your monitor display. You can choose Default for display, which is automatic, or Scaled to select all of the available resolution configurations. Using the maximum available resolution will give you the most screen real estate. If you find the display too small, try using a smaller resolution.

Energy Saver:

  • Uncheck “Automatic graphics switching”.
  • Move the slider to Never for “Turn display off after:”
  • Check “Prevent computer from sleeping automatically when the display is off”.
  • Uncheck “Put hard disks to sleep when possible”.
  • Uncheck “Wake for network access”.
  • Uncheck “Start up automatically after a power failure”.
  • Uncheck “Enable Power Nap”.

Keyboard and Shortcuts:

macOS has built-in shortcuts that make using your Mac easier, like [⌘] + [Space] for Spotlight search or [⇧] + [⌘] + [3] to create a screenshot. Some software may use a hotkey that conflicts with the default shortcuts, so to enable it you will need to disable the macOS shortcut. Modifying shortcuts is not required but can be useful. Check out your software’s shortcut/hotkey list for more information.

  • In the Keyboard menu, check “Use F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys” to disable the default macOS features. Hold the [fn] key while pressing the function keys to use their special feature again.
  • Using the FN keys as standard function keys disengages keyboard control for volume. Uncheck his when not using an audio interface so you can regain control.

Printers & Scanners:

Printers and scanners use drivers to connect to your Mac. Some connect with USB cables with others connect wirelessly via AirPrint or a third-party app included with the device. If you do not need to use a printer with your Mac while using your audio and MIDI devices, either power it off or physically disconnect it. If a printer has a job queued, or your Mac thinks a printer is still connected, you can disconnect the printer from the Printers & Scanners list.


The Sound preferences are for selecting the default audio device for the audio output and input. Your Mac’s built-in speakers and microphone are selected by default. Select your audio interface here to use it as the default audio device for your Mac. Apps that have unique software settings, like DAWs and Skype, have additional settings for their audio input and output device(s).


iCloud is the native cloud storage for macOS. It’s able to synchronize apps like Calendar, Contacts, and Notes, and also has file backup features. Since this is a networked-based app it can take up performance bandwidth and should be turned off. Learn more from Apple about how to back up your Mac.

  • Sign out of iCloud to prevent syncing and backup interruptions.
  • iCloud can automatically backup the Documents folder, which will interfere with many DAW folders in that directory. Studio One uses the Documents folder as the default folder for saving your recordings.

Software Update:

The App Store preferences are useful for configuring automatic updates for macOS and Apple software. Once a music production is set up, automatic updates should be turned off. Future updates and upgrades require reviewing compatibility before installation.

  • Uncheck “Automatically keep my Mac up to date”.
  • Click Advanced… and uncheck each of the following:
    • “Download new updates when available”
    • “Install macOS updates”
    • “Install app updates from the App Store”
    • “Install system data files and security updates”


The networking features on your Mac can take up processing bandwidth and interrupt some features. While many systems can watch YouTube, check email, and run a Pro Tools or Live session at the same time, that can cause produce performance loss and even require a restart or reconfiguration if software/hardware starts performing incorrectly.

  • Unless required for a device or feature (e.g., iLok Cloud, EuCon controller, Ableton Link, etc.), turn Wi-Fi Off and disconnect from the Ethernet port.
  • If Wi-Fi is required, uncheck “Ask to join new networks”.
  • Turn off and remove the Thunderbolt/Firewire networking when not using their port for a network connection.
  • Use the Ethernet connection instead of the built-in Wi-Fi for internet access.
  • If internet access is required and you’re using network devices like Eucon Controllers, choose an Ethernet/Thunderbolt connection for the devices and Wi-Fi for internet access.
  • When using the built-in Wi-Fi for Remote Control, then choose the Ethernet/Thunderbolt network connections for internet access.
  • Prioritize the Wi-Fi or Ethernet by changing their order in the Set Service Order… prompt (cog drop-down menu).


Bluetooth is used by many apps and features but typically isn’t required to operate a DAW. Unless you need Bluetooth in your system, turn it off.

  • Unless using a Bluetooth device like Apple’s wireless keyboard and mouse, turn Bluetooth off.
  • Use a wired or wireless USB keyboard to prevent using the built-in Bluetooth.

Users & Groups:

In the Login Items menu, remove all Login Items not required upon launch.


Disable Siri to optimize performance bandwidth.

Date & Time:

By default, the date and time are configured by the location services. To minimize unnecessary processing, choose to manually configure the timezone.

  • Uncheck “Set Time zone automatically using current location” and set the time zone manually.

Time Machine:

Backing up your Mac with Time Machine is a great idea, but should be done manually for music production computers. When automatic Time Machine backups are enabled, the backup can occur when you record and cause problems.

  • Uncheck “Back Up Automatically” to turn off automatic backups.
  • In the Time Machine “Options…” menu, only use drives that need to be backed up; for instance, the internal Macintosh HD.

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