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5 Tips For Using Audio in Mac OS X Lion

So Lion is here and some of us upgraded very quickly; some maybe a little too quickly (don’t ask!). Whether you have made the move or not it’s nice to know about any key features that might mean something to you.

There are not a huge number of improvements in the area of audio but here are 5 tips for using, viewing and organizing your audio in OS X Lion. Let us know if you have any more that maybe useful to people.

Tip 1 - Quick Look Player Updated

Ok, so truth of it is all of these features are pretty minor (no revamped CoreAudio here!) but in terms of everyday workflow they have have been really useful to me and made life just that little bit easier.

With this in mind first up I’ve chosen to talk about the updated Quick Look player. I use Quick Look to preview my audio files constantly and now things have been updated. The first thing you’ll notice is a new user interface, things are a little brighter and a little cleaner.

Also, you can now open your track straight into iTunes from the new player. Or, if you prefer, you can view the whole thing as a full screen app.

The new updated look of the Quick Look player

The new updated look of the Quick Look player.

Tip 2 - Separating Audio In QuickTime

This is a nice little touch: when you are working with a video, or have been sent something with a great piece of audio on it you might want to separate only the sound. Usually this would mean opening the video in Final Cut, Logic or similar and going to work... Well, not anymore.

Now you can open up good old QuickTime player, go to export and choose the Audio Only option. Your audio will now be neatly cut from the video and sent to your desktop. This is one useful little feature.

Separate audio from a video in Quicktime X

Separate audio from a video in QuickTime X.

Tip 3 - Encoding Audio On The Fly

Another great export feature added to OS X is the Encode Selected Audio Files function added to the shortcut menu. This can be accessed anywhere in OS X and allows you to convert just about any flavor or audio to a number of different high quality compressed audio formats.

Audio being encoded in Lion

Audio being encoded in Lion.

To get this working simply right-click on any audio file on your system and choose Encode Selected Audio Files from the Services menu. You’ll then be presented with an export box that allows you to choose from a few different flavors of Apple-ised compressed audio. 

The encoded audio options

The encoded audio options.

Tip 4 - Using Full Screen Audio Apps

Although the instruction of full screen apps isn’t exactly audio-related it can come in very handy when working with audio-centric applications. Logic users for example will really benefit from going full screen.

Hitting the full screen toggle icon in the top right of your app will gain you precious screen real estate and shut out all unwanted distractions from Facebook and eBay!! Give it a try next time your in a session or even playing your music back with iTunes. You should find you’ve got more room for plug-ins and a few extra audio tracks.

Logic in fullscreen mode

Logic in fullscreen mode.

Tip 5 - Using Resume At The Start Of A Session

Another feature that is not audio specific here is the new Resume function. Now when you restart your Mac you can choose whether you reinstate your windows, applications and layout. 

Imagine you are working with a client, the session is flowing but you are all getting tired. Shut down your Mac and usually you have to open every app you were using. With Resume you can now almost fully suspend your session in its previous state and start from exactly where you left off the next day. This has got to be a good thing.

The new Resume feature in Lion

The new Resume feature in Lion.

Got more audio specific OS X Lion tips? Drop them in a comment below!

Mo Volans

Mo Volans | Articles by this author

Mo has been a professional in the music industry for around 15 years. He has released material with the world's leading record labels and also produces music for TV and Film. Mo is also a prolific writer and is a regular contributor to magazines such as Music Tech, Future Music and EQ magazine. There isn't a piece of music software that Mo isn't intimately familiar with and he lives happily on the cutting edge of music technology


Nov 02, 2011
So, are you telling me that you ved upgrade to Lion ?
Thats a bold move :)

Except for some good tips that you gave, how is it afetr the two updates? is it ready for audio the way you had it before (soundhack spectral shapers is not ready for lion yet). Tell us more

Best regards
Nov 02, 2011
I'm still having major stability problems with Apogee, AJA Kona, and ProSonus drivers. It's so messed up it's not funny.
Nov 02, 2011
FYI, you can the same shortcut for video files, right-click, and the bottom of the pop-up menu shows an option to convert to H.264 or ProRes. Very cool stuff.
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