Pro Tools All-in-One For Dummies
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Pro Tools is an audio and musical instrument digital interface (MIDI) recording program. Aside from recording audio and MIDI tracks, you can use Pro Tools to tweak your recordings to a high level of detail, clarity, and accuracy. It features some of the most powerful editing functions available.

Pro Tools also offers excellent mixing capabilities that help you mix your tracks together, EQ (equalize) them, and apply effects. Get the most out of Pro Tools by knowing how to use its keyboard shortcuts to control your music from start to finish.

Keyboard shortcuts for creating, playing, and recording new tracks

Recording audio is what Pro Tools does best (well, that and editing it). To make your work more efficient, get to know these keyboard shortcuts for creating and recording a new track, as well as playing it back:

Create a new track: Press Apple Command+N (Mac) or Ctrl+N (PC).

Start or stop playing a session: Press the spacebar.

Enable tracks to record:

  • Record-enable a single track: Click the Record Enable button in either the track’s channel strip (in the Mix window) or the track menu (in the Edit window). The button blinks red when engaged.

  • Record-enable all tracks: Option-click (Mac) or Alt-click (PC) the Record Enable button on any track.

  • Record-enable selected tracks: Shift-click to select the tracks you want in the playlist and then Shift+Option-click (Mac) or Shift+Alt-click (PC) the Record Enable button for one of the selected tracks.

Start recording in your session (instead of clicking Record and then Play):

  • Press the F12 key.

  • Press Apple command+spacebar (Mac) or Ctrl+spacebar (PC).

  • If you have the Number Keypad mode set to Transport in the Operations tab of the Preferences dialog box, press the 3 of the numeric keypad. Choose Setup→Preferences from the main menu to access the Preferences dialog box.

Stop recording the session: Press the spacebar.

Place a track in Record Safe mode: Apple command-click (Mac) or Ctrl-click (PC) the Record Enable button for the track.

Place all tracks in Record Safe mode: Apple command+Option-click (Mac) or Ctrl+Alt-click (PC) the Record Enable button for any track.

Toggle between Record modes (Non-destructive, Destructive, Loop, QuickPunch): Control-click (Mac) or right-click (PC) the Record button in the Transport window.

Enter and exit recording while in QuickPunch Record mode (while the session plays): Press Apple command+spacebar (Mac) or Ctrl+spacebar (PC).

Set and enable a pre-roll: Option-click (Mac) or Alt-click (PC) the track’s playlist where you want to put the pre-roll.

Set and enable a post-roll: Option-click (Mac) or Alt-click (PC) the track’s playlist where you want to put the post-roll.

Stop recording and cancel a take: Press Apple command+. (period; Mac) or Alt+. (period; PC).

Keyboard shortcuts for making selections, editing, and zooming

Changing a recorded track used to be a messy, inexact, time-consuming process that many engineers weren’t very good at. Even the steadiest hands couldn’t come close to the accuracy and variety now available (to even the clumsiest) through digital editing.

You don’t even have to move your mouse too much to speed up your work; Pro Tools offers keyboard shortcuts for many common functions, including selection, editing, and zooming.

Make a selection while your session plays:

  • Press the down arrow to set the selection’s start point.

  • Press the up arrow to set the selection’s end point.

Nudge a selection’s start point:

  • Press Option+Shift+– (minus key; Mac) or Alt+Shift+– (minus key; PC).

Nudge a selection’s end point:

  • Press Apple command+Shift+– (minus key; Mac) or Ctrl+Shift+– (minus key; PC).

Change the nudge value:

  • Press Apple command+Option++ (plus key on the numeric keypad; Mac) or Ctrl+Alt++ (plus key on the numeric keypad; PC) for more nudge value.

  • Press Apple command+Option+– (minus key on the number section of keyboard; Mac) or Ctrl+Alt+– (minus key on the numeric keypad; PC) for less nudge.

Choose Edit modes:

  • Shuffle: Press F1.

  • Slip: Press F2.

  • Spot: Press F3.

  • Grid: Press F4.

Choose Edit Tools:

  • Zoom: Press F5.

  • Trimmer: Press F6.

  • Selector: Press F7.

  • Grabber: Press F8.

  • Scrubber: Press F9.

  • Pencil: Press F10.

  • Smart Tool: Press F6 and F7 simultaneously.

Select Zoom presets:

  • Preset #1: Press Control+1 (Mac) or Windows key+1 (PC).

  • Preset #2: Press Control+2 (Mac) or Windows key+2 (PC).

  • Preset #3: Press Control+3 (Mac) or Windows key+3 (PC).

  • Preset #4: Press Control+4 (Mac) or Windows key+4 (PC).

  • Preset #5: Press Control+5 (Mac) or Windows key+5 (PC).

Change the grid value:

  • Press Control+Option++ (plus key on the numeric keypad; Mac) or Start/Windows+Alt++ (plus key on the number pad; PC) to increase grid value.

  • Press Control+Option+– (minus key on the numeric keypad; Mac) or Windows key+Alt+– (minus key on the numeric keypad; PC) to decrease grid value.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Jeff Strong is a musician and recording engineer, as well as the founder of Brain Shift Radio ( and president of the Strong Institute. He has owned or worked in a recording studio since 1985 and has released dozens of CDs.

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