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Down The Rabbit Hole

Digging deeper into Pro Tools keyboard shortcuts

For those of you that read our last article on keyboard shortcuts, I hope that you’ve already started to see an improvement in your workflow. However, there are many, many more shortcuts that will allow you to become even more proficient with your sessions. In fact, there are so many shortcuts, they have been split up into two different sections comprised of the normal shortcut commands and a special feature called Command Focus. We will be taking a look at a combination of these two mentalities to help you gain workflow efficiency.

One of the key things to note about Command Focus is that it’s the same for Mac and PC. First of all, let’s take a look at how the Command Focus shortcuts can do for you. One of the main things you have to remember is that Command Focus is always active, you cannot turn it off, all that you can do is tell your session where you are focusing these commands (hence the name Command Focus). You will find this feature active in one of three areas in the Edit Window and one area in the Mix Window.

The way you can recognize which is active is by determining which one is selected (in yellow)


Edit Window - allows for the use of separate shortcuts focused on editing, playback, and selection


Clip List - allows you to select clips by typing their name


Group List - allows for the activation and deactivation of track groups within the session. The Group Focus is the only one found in the Mix Window of Pro Tools.

This concept may be a little confusing at first, but not to worry, Command Focus never overrides your normal shortcuts, it is in addition to. This means that secretly, lurking in the background have been a whole world that you might have not known about. Also, if anyone has ever seen the “Pro Tools Keyboard” it has color coded keys with icon’s telling you the shortcut, these are the Command Focus shortcuts for the Edit Window. While there are many you might not have a need for (ex. Capture Incoming Timecode), there are many that are centered around editing and navigating that will help you save time when working with your session. Let’s take a look at some of these now.

***Note: make sure Command Focus is selected in the Edit Window, not Clips or Group Lists

Some of the most simple one’s are used every day, such as Cut, Copy, Paste, Undo. With Command Focus active, you only need to press Z to Undo, X to Cut, C to Copy, V to Paste, no need to us the Control Key (PC) or Command Key (Mac) to achieve the function. Another really useful set of command are the A & S keys which allow you to trim your audio region from the beginning or the end. Here’s how it works:

Here we have our entire audio region and what we would like to do is to trip everything from the beginning of the region to the cursor (insertion point). If we press the A key on the keyboard this will activate Trim Start To Insertion. Just remember that it will cut everything from the beginning to wherever your cursor is, so be careful.


If you want to achieve the same function from the end of the region, Trim End To Insertion, press the letter S on the keyboard.


Another very useful set of shortcuts are for creating Fades. Normally, you have to select the area you want to Fade In/Out, press Command + F (Mac) / Control + F (PC). However, using Command Focus, you can use the letter D to create a fade in, F to create a crossfade, and G to create a fade out. Here’s how they work, for a fade in, place your cursor in the audio region at the point you want to fade in to end and simply press D. The same goes for a fade out, place your cursor where you want your fade out to start and press G, it will create a fade out to the end of the region. If you want to create a crossfade between two regions, select the where the two regions meet and press F.


Notice in the ex. above, my cursor is placed in the audio region where I want my fade in to end, by pressing D this is our result:[


The same is true for a fade out:


When you press the G key, you will get a fade out from the cursor to the end of the audio region.


Finally, to create a fade out, select the area where two audio regions meet and press the F key.


As you can see, these shortcuts can really save you a bunch of time as they are geared at things you will be quite quite a bit of in each session. If you can save a bunch of time not going to a menu, you can focus more time on being creative.



To recap, here are the Command Focus keyboard shortcuts we’ve discussed:

A - Trim Start To Insertion
S - Trim End To Insertion
D - Fade In
F - Cross-Fade
G - Fade Out
Z - Undo
X - Cut
C - Copy
V - Paste

Here are a few more that will also help out:

R - Zoom Out
T - Zoom In

Have fun making music

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