Decluttering Media Composer on the Mac

Cluttery and distracting

Cluttery and distracting

I’ve been using Media Composer since version 5 point something, which will confuse you new kids who think Media Composer 4.0 just came out. So I’ll put it this way, I started using Media Composer in 1995. I’ve used a lot of versions, and have always preferred using it on a Mac, even though Avid tools feel less stable on the Mac than they do running on Windows. I hate using Windows that much. But stability aside there was has been one big thing that has bugged me about Media Composer since it came to OS X, and I think I’ve found one way to lessen the annoyance this causes me.

Since going to OS X, Media Composer on the Mac did away with the nice grey background of the application that would shield your eyes from temptations beckoning from behind your bins.  This feature still exists on Windows, but somehow it was decided Mac users couldn’t benefit from what we were enjoying in OS 9 and before.

You’re saying, “Dude, just quit the other apps!  If Facebook and your email are distracting you, quit them and only run Media Composer.”

To that I respond, “What are you, some kind of monster??!”

Even ONLY MC running, visual vomit

Even ONLY MC running, visual vomit remains

There ain’t no way I’m completely disconnecting from the world while I’m editing, that ain’t the way I roll.  Hell, you probably know I’ve been posting on the Avid-L since, what, 1996? 1997?  And to the Avid First Class BBS before Avid-L came along.  I had my Mac-based Media Composers connected to the internet back when some of your mommies were telling you that was a no-no.

You can’t NOT have other apps running, you need your Photoshop and After Effects running, but my complaint here is not that your eyes– sorry, I should be talking about me– my eyes are distracted not only by non-work-related Facebook, Twitter and email overload, my eyes are distracted by just the visual mess that you see here to my right.  I’ve been saying for a long while now that when you’re in the Media Composer you should not see your Desktop image behind you, no, there should be grey there!  At least give me the option.

There’s still a whole ‘nother problem with bringing the Media Composer back to the forward app by simply clicking one of its windows, you wind up with bins remaining hidden behind other app’s windows.  Why on earth would I want my Composer window to remain behind my web browser when I click on my Timeline window?  Sorry for the aside, I’ll get back on topic.

Now that's what I'm talking about

That's what I'm talking about!

Ok, so what I’m proposing is something that looks like the image you see to the right of this very text I’m typing right here.  It is visually appealing.  And as an added bonus, when you accidentally miss a bin and click on the grey background you don’t switch out of Media Composer.  Get out your award nomination forms, I’m about to tell you how I pulled off this coup.

  1. Head over to Many Tricks’ web site and download Desktop Curtain.
  2. Next, download my suggestion for your grey backround.
  3. Launch Desktop Curtain and drag my grey PSD into the image well.
  4. If when you launch Desktop Curtain all you see is your desktop covered with the default OS X space picture, launch Desktop Curtain a second time.  This will bring up the settings window.  That is the weird thing about the app, it is faceless and doesn’t really give you any indication it is running but if you “launch” it and it is already running you’ll get the settings window.
  5. The settings window, btw, is where you quit Desktop Curtain when you’re done with it.
Yes, I did donate.

Yes, I did donate.

I set my “Curtain Level” to “In front of the items on the desktop”, which means I’m not actually hiding any apps with this satisfying greyness, I’m hiding the Desktop.  And when I’m done posting an update on Facebook I just remember to Hide the web browser (Command-H) then all I see is Media Composer and Grey.

Anyway, I’ve used Desktop Curtain many times in the past for what it is intended for, but using it to make my life better in this way made me very very happy indeed.

One Comment

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