Taming the Lion - Workflows in Apple's newest OS - Part 1

I am a bleeding edge kind of guy. I like having the latest system and discovering it’s quirks and more than that discovering how to fix or work around the issues that it brings with it. 

Lion (10.7) is the latest OS from Apple and I have been running it in some degree since it was released. There are things that I love and things that I hate, they are mostly covered on other sites and if you are considering it for any of your systems I’d recommend reading around and seeing what of your workflows may or may not work. This article is about things I’ve discovered that hindered my workflows and the resolutions to them. 

1 - File management (part 1)

If you install Lion onto a fresh system or buy a new system running it then you will find that the Finder is vastly changed. Visually it’s greyer but deeper than that scrollbars are gone, the dividers in column view are practically indistinguishable. Most irritating of all is the new organisation of the sidebar. 

“All my Files” is the first addition you will see. I can see the use case for this, it’s for people who are used to storing things on their desktop or just all within a single folder somewhere.
Most people reading this particular post won’t do that, audio professionals are generally quite organised about their filing and if you use Pro Tools then the system itself guides you to maintaining some form of hierarchy by default. Command Click and drag on this to remove it from the sidebar would be my recommendation and replace it with:

2 - Add your Hard Drive back to the sidebar.

Shift-Command-C will bring up the Computer view. From here I’d recommend dragging at least your work drives into the Favorites section of the sidebar otherwise you will spend a lot of time scrolling to the bottom of the sidebar which is where apple has deemed to be the place to store Disks of all varieties. 

3 - File Management (part 2)

With the advent of Versioning in the OS Apple rather irritatingly hid the “Don’t Replace” option from the Copy menu. No idea what I mean? On a preLion system if you were to try to copy the contents of your Audio Files folder to a server copy of the same Audio Files folder in order to update the server copy of the session you would be presented with a dialog box with a few options.

  • Apply to All (a checkbox)
  • Don’t Replace
  • Replace
  • Stop

If you do the same process in Lion you will find no option to “Don’t Replace” and it’s place has been taken by “Keep Both Files”. This might be okay if you are moving Word documents around but start updating mix stems in a similar way and you’ll find yourself with duplicate files, longer copies and rapidly filled storage. 

Thankfully it is not gone, but it is well hidden. I tried every combination of shift, control, option trying to get the “Keep Both Files” to change to no avail. The solution was to not drag the Files but to drag the containing folder at which point the OS recognises that the folder/directory exists and will merge the folders. It does this without any further interaction which is kind of nice but scary the first, second and third time you do it. It does work though. 

4 - Dedicated Desktops

Take some time to set up dedicated desktops, these are much like Spaces in Snow Leopard but can be customised with seperate artwork for each Desktop. To lock an application to a specific desktop you can either:

  • Drag the Applications window to a Desktop whilst in “Mission Control” view then right click on the applications Dock icon to bring up the Options menu. From here select the option to ‘Assign to’ This Desktop
  • Navigate to a new Desktop and then open the application and follow the second half of previous option (right click on the applications Dock icon to bring up the Options menu. From here select the option to ‘Assign to’ This Desktop)

I have a Pro Tools background image on my Pro tools Desktop because unless a session is open then all you get when switching to the Desktop is the Menu bar and I like the reassurance that the switch has occurred.

As with spaces this is not foolproof and occasionally the OS won’t switch to the correct Desktop when you open a new window. The most frequent example of this is double clicking on a Pro tools file in Finder, the file will open but Lion won’t switch to the Pro tools desktop. Either bring up Mission Control and switch manually or click the Pro Tools Dock icon and it normally switches. 

I will write a part two very soon but these are just a few irritations and tips to get you started.