10 Ways to Optimize Mac OS X for Podcasting

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Podcasting and Mac OS X are the perfect marriage - almost. As Apple readies iTunes 4.9 for podcast listeners, podcast creators still need to make some tweaks for optimal performance. Recording a podcast is a resource intensive process. These 10 tips shut down unnecessary background operations, optimize Mac OS X for audio recording and eliminate the trouble spots that sometimes ruin an otherwise great podcast recording.

Podcasting and Mac OS X are the perfect marriage - almost. As Apple readies iTunes 4.9 for podcast listeners, podcast creators still need to make some tweaks for optimal performance. Recording a podcast is a resource intensive process. These 10 tips shut down unnecessary background operations, optimize Mac OS X for audio recording and eliminate the trouble spots that sometimes ruin an otherwise great podcast recording.

1) Log off Additional Users

Fast user switching leaves some system resources tied up maintaining other user settings. Before recording a podcast, make sure your user account is the only one logged in.

2) Defrag Your Hard Drive

Apple claims Mac OS X is self-optimizing, with no need to defragment your hard drive. The caveat to this is if you frequently modify or create large files, with video you might benefit from defragmenting. A fragmented hard drive causes performance problems when working with large audio files. If you record frequent podcasts defrag regularly to improve performance.

3) Turn off the Screensaver

While the resources consumed by your screensaver are small, every little boost in system performance helps. Set the screen saver start time to Never in the Desktop & Screen Saver system preference.

4) Make the Desktop Static

Mac OS X contains a feature to switch the desktop wallpaper as frequently as every 5 seconds. While this looks neat, it consumes additional resources better used for recording your podcast. If your background picture is already one static image, this step is complete. If not, disable the Change picture option in the Desktop and Screen Saver system preference to keep system resource usage to a minimum.

5) Lock the Dock

Bouncing icons in the Dock and hiding the dock are both resource wasters. In the Dock system preference set Minimizing use to Scale effect, uncheck Animate opening applications and uncheck Automatically hide and show the Dock.

6) Dismantle Dashboard

Tiger's addition of Dashboard look awesome, but every widget uses resources. You can't shutdown Dashboad so the only way to recover wasted resources is to turn off Widgets. Close each Widget individually and undock any mounted to your desktop. This eliminates some of the attractive appeal of Dashboard, but your digital audio recording app will thank you for the extra memory.

7) No Rest for the Hard Drive

By default, every Mac OS X installation is set up to put the hard drive to sleep when possible. This is a battery saving feature for Power Book and iBook users, but is also enabled on Mini and desktop units too. Just in case your hard drive might attempt to nap in mid recording, uncheck Put the hard disk(s) to sleep when possible in the Energy Saver system preference.

8) Store Project Files on a Second Drive

The primary system drive is busy handling all the tasks that make Mac OS X function properly. It's also the place you like installed your podcast recording app. Use a second external drive to store your audio files, shifting the write- intensive operations of recording an audio signal from a microphone or instruments away from the operating system drive.

9) Turn off Sharing

Sharing keeps additional system resources busy, potentially pinging other machines on the network just to let them know your machine is there. Ideally during recording you won't be using your network connection as you need to keep all resources directed to your recording application. While it's smart to keep the Firewall turned on at all times when connected to a network, both Personal File Sharing and Internet Sharing should be turned off for system optimization.

10) Shut down Excess Applications

iChat is a useful communication tool better left shut down when doing system intensive audio maneuvers. Turn off other applications like Safari, Mail, Calendar, iPhoto, iMovie and any other app not directly used in your audio recording project. If you know AppleScript, A free app called iTattle includes a Quit All Open Applications feature on the Tasks menu which kills any open apps automatically.

Once Mac OS X is optimized for audio, it's time to record that podcast. The Podcasting Starter Kit (PodcastingStarterKit.com) covers everything from choosing a microphone, to recording and editing audio, to publishing a podcast and using BitTorrent to save bandwidth costs. Podcasting Starter Kit introduces the reader to the creative process required to make a podcast, eliminating the barrier to entry of complicated audio recording processes. Using Podcasting Starter Kit readers discover software tools and affordable audio components designed to empower anyone to record a podcast and distribute it to millions of potential listeners with virtually no previous audio recording experience.

About the Author

Jake Ludington is the founder of MediaBlab.com, a resource delivering cutting edge audio and video tutorials and media centric information to millions of online visitors. Jake is the producer and audio engineer for The Chris Pirillo Show, a podcast and streaming radio show averaging 25,000 downloads of every podcast, making it among the most popular shows online. Jake Ludington is a leading expert on podcasting, speaking at the Blog Business Summit in Seattle, WA earlier this year. He was recently quoted in USA Today. Jake will be speaking on Podcasting at the Portable Media Expo November 11-12, 2005.

Podcasting Starter Kit

By Jake Ludington

Published by MediaBlab.com

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