How to Control the Control Bar in Logic Pro X - dummies

How to Control the Control Bar in Logic Pro X

By Graham English

The Logic Pro X control bar is located at the top of the main window. It contains view icons that show and hide windows, transport controls for playback and recording, an LCD display area for viewing important information about your project, and icons for different behavior modes and specific functions.


You can customize the control bar by Control-clicking an empty area and choosing the Customize Control Bar option.

After you customize the control bar the way you like it, save it as a template so you can recall it later. You can also import your customized control bar from another project by importing the project’s screensets. You’ll learn more about screensets later in this chapter.

When you become comfortable using key commands to navigate Logic Pro, you may never need to click the control bar. But it still provides a good heads-up display, indicating whether certain functions are engaged.

The leftmost group of view icons displays the library, inspector, and toolbar. To the right of the view icons are the Quick Help icon and the editor icons. Here’s a brief description of what these icons allow you to do:

  • The library is where you load and save settings for recall later. It’s like having a modular studio where you can save and load entire mixer setups, guitar amp settings, or even groups of software instruments. The library is one of the most powerful new features in Logic Pro X, and you find out about it throughout the book. The key command to open the Library is Y.

  • The inspector icon opens a dynamic editing window for the object or objects currently selected in the tracks area. The inspector is more like three inspectors in one. It inspects the selected track, the channel strip where you adjust the track’s sound, and the selected region or regions. The key command to open the inspector is I.

  • The toolbar icon puts a customizable row of functions along the bottom of your control bar. You can customize the toolbar by Control-clicking it and choosing Customize Toolbar. When you’re new to Logic Pro, displaying this toolbar is helpful. When you’ve memorized the key commands or need more screen real estate, however, you might want to hide the toolbar. You can do so by pressing Control-Option-Command-T.

  • The quick help icon is another good tool for new Logic Pro users. Click this icon when the inspector is displayed, and you’ll see details for whatever your cursor is hovering over. If the inspector isn’t displayed, you’ll see a floating window with the same details. The quick help icon doesn’t have a key command, but you can create one for it.

  • The smart controls icon opens an editor that’s new in Logic Pro X. The smart controls are displayed in the main window below the tracks area. The content of the smart controls editor depends on the selected track. Smart controls decide which parameters you need the most, and they do an almost perfect job. The key command to open the smart controls is B.

  • The mixer icon opens the pristine-sounding or dirty-sounding mixer, depending on how you decide to mix it. Like the smart controls, the mixer appears at the bottom of the tracks area. The key command to open the mixer is X.

  • The editors icon displays the group of editors associated with the selected region type. The editors open at the bottom of the tracks area; which editors you see depends on whether you have an audio, a MIDI, or a drummer region selected. The key command to open the editors is E.

  • The transport is a collection of icons that provide basic controls for playing, recording, pausing, stopping, forwarding, rewinding, and generally navigating your project. You can customize the control bar to contain your choice of 17 transport icons.

  • The LCD display indicates the current location of the playhead. You can see your project in beats, time, or a customized display. To change the display mode, click the left section of the display and make a selection. A useful feature of the custom display options is to open a giant beats or time display in a separate floating window for viewing from afar.

    You can enter data directly into the LCD display by double-clicking or click-dragging (for tempo and location). You edit other key project parameters, such as key and time signatures, by clicking the display and manually entering the data.

  • To the right of the LCD display are several mode and function icons. You can customize the control bar so that is displays your most important modes and functions.

    A few mode icons, such as cycle mode, are useful to have available, even if you know the corresponding key command, because their pressed state lets you know quickly whether the mode is enabled. And some icons, such as the tuner, don’t have corresponding key commands so it’s handy to have them on the control bar.

  • On the far right of the control bar is another group of view icons. The list editors icon opens a window on the right side of the tracks area with four tabs: Event, Marker, Tempo, and Signature. Each tab gives you editing access to the smallest details of your project data.

    The Event tab updates its display depending on what you have selected. The Marker, Tempo, and Signature tabs show events that affect your project globally. The key command to open the list editors window is D.

  • The notepad icon opens a window on the right side of the tracks area with two tabs of notes: Project and Track. The Project notes tab is a great place to write song lyrics. You could use the Track notes tab as a change log, so you don’t forget what you’ve tried out or how you’ve edited your track. The key command to open the notepad is Option-Command-P.

  • The Apple loops icon opens a loop browser in a window on the right side of the tracks area. You can filter your loops by using the descriptive icons or you can search for them directly in the search field. Selecting a loop automatically auditions it.

    When you find one you like, drag it to the bottom of the tracks area, where you see the Drag Apple Loops Here text. The key command to open the Apple loop browser is O.

  • The browser icon opens a window on the right side of the tracks area with three tabs: Project, Media, and All Files. The project browser shows you all the audio in your project. The media browser shows you all the media on your computer that is indexed by iTunes, GarageBand, and Logic Pro, as well as the movies in your User Movies folder.

    The all files browser works similarly to Finder; you can navigate to any location on your computer to import media. The key command to open the browser is F.

  • The master volume slider is a new feature in Logic Pro X and might be familiar to GarageBand users. Because GarageBand doesn’t have a mixer, the master volume slider is the main way to turn your project volume up or down. In Logic Pro X, a master fader in the mixer serves the same function as the master volume slider on the control bar, so the slider isn’t necessary.