Streamline Your Mac

A few weeks ago Monika.mhz wrote an excellent article called “Streamline Your Windows Laptop”, and it inspired me to write something similar for the mac. Windows PCs can really benefit from optimization, but many of you out there with Macs probably don’t do much, if anything, to optimize your mac. Today we will discuss a few simple changes  you can make before your next gig, and how you can do it all with one click.  Many of these changes are one time dj tasks that you normally would not use, so I will show you how to automate that process for a simple and stress free dj start up every time.


To get a Macbook ready for the gig we recommend you consider doing the following:

1. Quit All Programs

Don’t leave unnecessary programs running. They will eat up cycles, resources, processing power, and RAM that could be available to your DJ software.

2. Shut off Airport

Unless you use something like Virtual DJ’s NetSearch, or the Traktor Pro twitter app there is no need for you to be connected to the internet while in the DJ booth. Airport will take up system resources searching for a signal, and some programs have been found to react negatively to airport activity. Play it safe and turn it off.

3. Adjust Energy Preferences

Editing your energy preferences to ensure your screen won’t go black, or worse go to sleep, will give you peace of mind and prevent you from having to do the silly mouse wiggle every so often. To do this, open your system preferences and click on energy saver. Make sure you are on the power adapter tab, then move both the computer and display sleep sliders to “never” and un-check the put hard disk to sleep option.

4. Set Audio Preferences

This may or may not matter to you. I have one of the new 13″ Macbook Pros which have only one audio port. This means in order to record my set, I need to switch the port from output to line in. To do this, open your system preferences and click on sound. On the output tab there is a drop down menu for “use audio port for”. Select “sound input” from the drop down menu.

5. Launch Programs

You can set up Automator to run all the programs you need for your set at the same time. Personally I use Audio Hijack Pro to record my DJ sets and Traktor Pro for the tunes.

All this in one click?

Check out the video bellow where I quit all apps, turn off airport, open system prefs, edit energy prefs, change audio port to line in, boost the recording volume, close system prefs, launch audio hijack, and launch traktor pro in one step.

As many of you know from my iTunes series, I advocate working smart and having as little manual intervention as possible. Enter a little friend of mine that comes with every Mac, Automator. With Automator you can run applescripts and record keystrokes/mouse clicks, then compile them and run back at 10x speed. So roll up your sleeves, launch Automator from your applications folder, and lets get started.

Step one is to quit all applications. Type “quit” in the search box and you will see an option for this. Double click to add it to your workflow. If you want to exempt an app from this command you can do it in the workflow.

Next we turn off Airport. I found this to be unreliable when recorded via mouse click so I went the applescript route. Type “run” in the search box and double click “Run AppleScript” to add to the workflow. Paste the code from this text file in the run box.

Toggle Airport On Off Code [right click to download]

Now for the editing of energy and audio prefs. Add the launch application command by searching and double clicking, then select system prefs from the drop down. The next part will require a few tries if you are new to Automator. Click the record button in the upper right and actually preform the actions you desire, then click stop. A “watch me do” action is automatically added to your workflow. Be sure to adjust the playback speed slider to 10x for fast results. Remember that at any time you can click run in the upper right and test your progress. After a few tries, you’ll get the hang of it. Finally add a “Quit Application” action and again select system prefs from the drop down.

Now we are ready to launch programs. Add another launch application action and select the program you wish to open. Repeat if you need to open more application. If you use spaces, you can set applications to open in a specific space by setting the app in the expose & spaces section of your system prefs.

Click run and test out your workflow. Once you have everything working exactly the way you want it, click FIle > Save As and then select “application” from the file format drop down. Once you have saved the workflow as an app, one double click will run the whole optimization process for you! I suggest setting up an second workflow for reversing all your actions after your set is over as well.

To get you started I’ve created a basic version of what is described here using automator. Open it up, dissect it, and tailor it to your needs. FYI this was created for OS X 10.5 .

Basic Optimized Mac Workflow [right click to download, then unzip]

djhow tomacoptimizesystemTips
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  • The Economical DJ– Laptops – Electronics Shop

    […] There is one disappointing aspect of the macbook – the battery – which bloated after a year and a half of use. This is fairly common with the 13? macbooks, but a replacement battery is easy to obtain for around $50. To be  fair, this was somewhat my own fault. To be even more frugal I use the same laptop for everyday use and DJing, which may not be the most prudent thing to do. If you cant afford separate laptops, make sure to turn off any interfering programs before djing. There is a nice DJTT guide to doing this automatically here. […]

  • chris-lol-æsos

    hey Folks, whats up?
    so, this was my first DJTT Article that i visit.

    Today we have an advanced session
    – Leenuz – divine darkness –
    – Psylocibian – back from an magic party –

    cherio 😉

    • chris


  • LukeLort

    Hey, first off this is a great idea and I’m keen to get it working although i have OS X 10.9 and this code is a bit outdated, any chance of an updated code for newbies to applescript like myself?

  • Saehoon425

    why a pro though and not air?
    the new air seems to get great reviews.. but is it funtional to djing? 

    • Vilmar

      Most likely due to the small screen. I personally recommend using at least a 15″ from experience

  • Vince

    Hey Mike, I’ve tried the Workflow file you provided but don’t think it works with OS X 10.6.4 I think the problem is the Airport code. Any way you can give an updated code to work on the new OS.. sorry but i’m a Mac newb so i have no clue how to adjust the code to work on my OS.

    thanks in advance!

  • Mike Charles

    Maximize Traktor but don’t do into full screen mode. If you are in full screen mode and leave that space, you will get a black screen. Its a known bug.

    I use spaces during my sets all the time, I just stretch trakor to its maximum size, rather than using full screen mode.

  • AndiD

    Really nice article! Thanks for the tips.

    Also switch off “Spaces”!
    I was running Traktor in fullscreen and wanted to load a track in deck B by pressing CTRL + Cursor right. Spaces switched to my second desktop.
    When going back to my first desktop again, Traktor stayed with a black screen, not reacting to any keyboard shortcut. I had to restart Traktor and my set.

    System: Mac OS X 10.6.4, Traktor 1.2.6

  • Groovenuts

    Hi All,

    Thanks for great input! does ne one know about the “put the harddisk(s) to sleep where possible” option in the energy saver??

  • Mike Charles

    [quote comment=”31393″]Hi Mike,

    I started to set up Automator as in your video to open and close Apps
    for use with Traktor but i have just realised i do not have Universal
    access on my MacBook Pro!

    Is there anyway of downloading it from the Apple web site?


    I’ve never heard of such a thing. It should be in your system preferences under the “system” heading. If you don’t have it, I would either try google or see if you could install it from your system restore discs.

  • RJScratch

    Hi Mike,

    I started to set up Automator as in your video to open and close Apps
    for use with Traktor but i have just realised i do not have Universal
    access on my MacBook Pro!

    Is there anyway of downloading it from the Apple web site?


  • Josia

    I’ve just been trying to do this, but I have the problem, that the automator-app allways freezes while opening traktor.
    someone know this problem?
    some help would be nice


  • Mike Charles


    You could try to record the applescript with script editor, but the easiest way to go about quitting a program would using Automator’s quit application module and then select which app you want to quit.

  • scott

    im digging this. now.. what about processes. ive been searching google for hours trying to find an applescript to quit a process by name. for instance, i love dropbox and tungle but i want to quit the processes for shows.

  • Al Churchill

    [quote comment=”20552″]Just buy a PC… Problems solved![/quote]
    [quote comment=””][…] Charles ha publicado un video en DJ TechTools donde explica como puedes optimizar tu sistema Mac para funciones DJ de forma instantánea, […][/quote]
    I think not! Haha. Good work thank you so much for getting me started on Automater. I knew I should have tried it ages ago.
    Thanks again.

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    [quote comment=””][…] Charles ha publicado un video en DJ TechTools donde explica como puedes optimizar tu sistema Mac para funciones DJ de forma instantánea, […][/quote]
    [quote comment=”20552″]Just buy a PC… Problems solved![/quote]

    Yeah, cause Vista is such a champion race horse. Douche bag – not one blue screen of death or virus in one year with my first Mac. Consider me converted

  • Poppa Cold One

    I partitioned my hard drive and made the second partition large enough to install Mac OSX, Traktor Pro, and my entire DJ music collection. When I go to gig I just start up from that partition which has everything streamlined and set up properly all the time. No need to tweak anything or worry about missing something. Has worked great so far.

  • Jim

    I checked out if I could do the same trick presented in this article. But I immediately ran into my first problem.

    If I type “quit” it doesn’t give me the “quit all programs” option. Nor other options.

    Any others with the same problem?


  • Matias

    I run danish OS 10.5.7. What’s the applescript for turning the airport off? It doesn’t work when i just record in automator…

  • from abroad

    Hi there!

    I would recommend an updated workflow containing:

    – end airport
    – quit all programms
    – put volume to max.
    – put brightness to max.
    – set all expose to “-” (none)
    – start serato

    i cant manage the automator workflow cause i
    – have 10.4
    – no US-Language so i cant find the commands written above except the scripts itselfs

    maybe someone could help out?
    will a 10.4 worflow work for 10.5 too?

  • Mike Charles

    ^^ Thats your problem right there. Your version of OS X is socialist and there would need to turn of airport for ALL macs in the country… lol

    Seriously though, did you try running my example automator workflow? What version of OS X are you running, 10.5?

  • rallevondalle

    Jesus, okay I’m spamming right now – sorry 🙂

    I’ve searched Google and all, but I can’t find a suitable solution for this problem. With Mikes script I get the error “airport_extra is not defined” syntax error. I’m running a danish version of MAC OS?

  • rallevondalle

    Forget the latter post, it sucks in automator 🙁

  • rallevondalle

    Another easy way to turn airport ON or OFF:

    do shell script “networksetup -setairportpower on” with administrator privileges


    do shell script “networksetup -setairportpower off” with administrator privileges

    Okay, you need to enter an admin password – but I couldn’t get the code from the post to work 🙁

  • Kenneth Ballenegger

    I think the best option would be to create a second account just for DJ-ing, that has these settings permanently, that doesn’t run any unnecessary stuff. For a live gig, you’d log out your normal account, and use the Live account.


  • wavegroom

    cool guide for automator, especially for starting up the whole dj tool set.
    I need to startup firebox mixer, darouter, traktor pro and sometimes I miss to startup the firebox mixer and wonder what’s wrong??
    This guide will solve my problem!

  • djhipnotikk

    +1 for Audio Hijack Pro. love it.

    also, haven’t tried this, but another useful reason to use AHP is if you’re mixing with traktor + ableton. in the “input” section you can select “system audio” which will capture all audio being output. therefore you can record a seemingly “seamless” mix spanning more than one application.

  • jthompsn

    @ DJ Summit
    I am not familiar with using terminal at all. Could you walk me through it step by step. I copied and pasted this when terminal opened “defaults write mcx-disabled”

    nothing happened…
    Thanks for the help!

  • Mr.Softee

    I think the fact that some people are forced to use Audio HiJack instead of the internal recording option of Traktor could depend on the fact that they do not have an Audio 8 and therefore no free inputs.
    If we’re talking of people using timecode of course.

    I do record with TS and Audio 8 without problems.

  • Dan

    I also record in TP from the monitor output of my DJM600 into the input channels of the Audio 8. I also do it with timecode mixing. Is there any reason why Audio Hijack should do a better job? I’m curious, I would definetly switch to it if recording is better. As I do it, I have to keep relatively down the lower freqencies to avoid too much noise

  • Jasontll

    hey guys, you can route the audio back into your audio interface and record your set internally in traktor pro….all you have to do is to buy an extra audio cable and route the output B(if you have one)or tape output from your mixer to the audio’s input(any 2 of the 4)… but thats only works if you mix externally and using a controller instead of timecode mixing

  • MisterMoleyMole

    I would love to know who “Most Helpful Guy Ever” is. I am loving your post, seriousley. I really do hope its meant as a joke if so its amazing! And i also hope the mac guys reply is a serious one, as that makes it all even better.

    Other Foot 🙂

  • rallevondalle

    Big up Mike! Youdeman – and how’s the sale on the chips and stuff going? 😉

  • DJ Summit

    @ Jthompsn in regards to disabling dashboard. Launch Terminal and then enter the following commands…

    To turn Dashboard off:

    defaults write mcx-disabled -boolean YES

    To turn Dashboard on:

    defaults write mcx-disabled -boolean NO

    You have to restart the Dock after making either change for it to take effect:

    killall Dock


  • Peter Morgan (The DJ Podcast)

    Someone asked me about the 13″ Macbook Pros and the audio port. Not having one, I had no idea that you would have to switch the port’s function. Thanks for pointing that out.

  • jthompsn

    How do you disable/turn off dashboard?

  • Terrac

    for the energy savings tweaking,

    replace the “launch application” and “watch me do” steps with
    “run shell script” and the contents of that window will be
    pmset 4

    This is what is does.
    pmset is the apple built in shell script to change PM settings
    4 is the value for ‘custom’ 1, 2, and 3 all giver you
    1 =Better
    2 = Normal
    3 = Performance
    4 = custom

    if you want to know more, man pmset

  • djsdive

    i keep dashboard disabled all the time ..

  • Adrian5


    Widgets take up memory so its best to remove them all on your dj account.

  • djsdive

    Its also important to make sure that all automatic synchronisation’s are disabled, like mobileme for example.

    Also to make sure that no unnecessary gadgets are running, log out and back in while pressing the shift key (enter your password, then press the shift key and click on login with your mouse) so that all the automatic login items are not started.

  • Mike Charles

    Regarding Audio Hijack: You can choose whatever setting you want for quality. I run a an RCA from the record out on my DJM 600 to the mini jack on my MBP. The new 13 inch MBP only has the one audio port, which is why I have to change that setting. I typically record my DJ sets as 128kbps mp3 because that is the setting I use for my podcasts.

    Shameless plug: If you like dance music, or are a dance music DJ and have a good mix, you should check out my podcast here:

    As for why I use Audio Hijack to record, that is because I route the individual line outs on my Xone 2D to my DJM 600 mixer and use the mixer is a somewhat “traditional” sense. The mixed output comes from the DJM so I then route back into the macbook. In short, I use Audio Hijack because I use an external mixer. You called it Ken Ballenegger.

    RE Caffeine: As 3rd party freeware, it has its quirks, where as changing the setting in systems prefs is absolute. Plenty of people use caffeine and it works just fine for them, but I figured since I was automating everything else, I would go the energy prefs route.

    RE Bluetooth: BT is always off for me so that is not a concern, however if you use BT then I would agreed that it should absolutely be shut off unless you use a Bluetooth device in your DJ set up.

  • 2tan

    Thank u very much for this!! =D

  • Joel Corriveau

    Don’t forget to turn off Bluetooth. Everytime I help a friend get their new Mac set up I ask, “Do you use Bluetooth?”

    The answer is almost invariably, “What’s Bluetooth?”

    Therefore: you do not need it on, listening, sucking battery. I find it so strange that Apple would make that ON by default. For someone tech savvy enough to use it, you’d think they’d be tech savvy enough to find out where to turn it on in Sys Prefs.

    (I know, I know. Part of Apple’s charm is the magic connection moments, where everything just happens, and you don’t have to do anything. Still. Shut that Bluetooth off.)

    I have a love/hate relationship with Caffeine. (The app. I LOVE coffee.) I love the idea of the app. But I find that it messes with my computer’s ability to sleep properly, even when Caffeine is not engaged.

  • Kenneth Ballenegger

    From what I understand, he’s mixing externally, which would break Traktor’s recording. He then brings the audio back into the Mac thru the Line In, and records it in Audio Hijack Pro.

    @Most Helpful Guy Ever: You’re an idiot.

  • daveq

    +2 on the TP vs Audio Hijack recording question…is there something basic we’re missing here?

  • Tical

    I was wondering the same thing.. Can you also record if you’re using TSP? That would be great because I won’t have to use a channel on the mixer to record; would save some time setting up!

  • w

    one question:
    afaik you mix intern, don’t you?
    is there a special reason, why you don’t record directly in traktor?

    cheers, Walter

  • Guust-Fi

    Why are you using Audio Hijack Pro instead of recording inside Traktor?

  • Alex Ketch

    You can set whatever sound quality you want for Audio Hijack so quality shouldn’t really be a problem. And no, it records straight to the mac.

    Also a great little program to run every now and then is Onyx. It just automates all the system maintenace stuff.

  • Tical

    that last post was me 😉

  • Anonymous

    nice! Question.. If you record your sets with Hijack, what is the quality like? & do you need something external to record it with?

  • VeinMelter

    There’s a little app called Caffeine that will do the same thing as the energy saver tricks.

    In fact you don’t need to touch the energy saving preferences. Just do one click to activate the caffeine app and your mac won’t fall to sleep until you deactivate it.

  • Most Helpful Guy Ever

    Just buy a PC… Problems solved!