Your Logic Pro X Toolbox - dummies

By Graham English

Tools imply work. But Logic Pro X is about having fun. So think of your toolbox as a fun box. The toolbar in the tracks area has several tools you can play with.

Another important key command is T. This key command opens the tools menu. In several windows, including the tracks area and most of the editors, pressing T opens the tools menu, and you can choose a tool with your cursor or with the keyboard shortcuts listed on the right.

Note that the keyboard shortcut for the default pointer tool is also T, giving you an efficient workflow in which you can press T twice to get back to the pointer quickly.

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Here’s what’s on the tool menu:

  • Pointer: The pointer is your default tool for selecting and moving things. Using the pointer tool, you can copy items by Option-dragging them. Grabbing the corners and edges of regions can temporarily cause the pointer to take a descriptive shape as an indicator of additional pointer functions.

    Place your cursor over the upper half of the right side of a region to turn the cursor into the loop tool. With the loop tool active, dragging the region corner to the right loops the region. Place your cursor over the lower half of the region’s right side to change the length of the region as you drag the corner. You’ll get the hang of the pointer quickly because it will be your most-used tool.

  • Pencil: The pencil tool is similar to the pointer tool, in that it can also loop, drag, alter length, and even select regions and other events. What makes the pencil unique is that it creates regions when you click in empty track areas. Note that if the project hasn’t been saved and you click an empty area with the pencil tool, you’ll be asked about opening an audio file.

  • Eraser: The eraser tool deletes regions and events from the tracks area. If multiple regions or events are selected and you click one of them with the eraser tool, all selected items will be deleted. This tool doesn’t get a lot of use because pressing Delete has the same effect.

    However, if you are going to delete several items in a row, clicking with the eraser tool is faster than selecting each item one by one and pressing Delete after each. And if you’re trying out for the Logic Pro Editing Olympics, every keystroke counts.

  • Text: With the text tool selected, you can rename regions and other events.

  • Scissors: Use the scissors when you want to split items. The scissors tool has a special Option-click behavior that can split a region into portions of equal length. You can also click-drag the scissors tool over a region to find the right place to make your split.

  • Glue: The glue tool joins selected items. You can also click-drag over items to select them before joining them.

  • Solo: Use the solo tool when you want to listen to only a single region. With the solo tool, click and hold down on a region to hear it. You can also drag the solo tool through the region to listen to whatever the tool touches, a process known as scrubbing.

  • Mute: The mute tool mutes or unmutes the items and other selected items it touches. You can select multiple items and mute or unmute them all at once or simply click any region to mute or unmute it.

    The mute tool is a useful arranging tool because you can quickly hear how sections of music will sound without the muted part. Using the mute tool on a region is often better than deleting the region if you’re not sure you want to commit to the edit.

  • Zoom: You learned how to use the zoom tool previously in this chapter by Control-Option-dragging in the tracks area. You can also choose it as a tool from the tool menu, which you rarely need to do except when you forget the key command, which isn’t likely since you’ll be using it so much.

    Another trick with the zoom tool: If your cursor is over an empty part of the tracks area, you only have to press Option to make your cursor the zoom tool.

  • Fade: With the fade tool, you can fade in and fade out the volume of your audio regions by dragging over the start or end of the region, respectively. You may need to zoom in horizontally to see the fade that’s applied to the region. You can edit the length of the fade by dragging the start or end point with the fade tool. You can also adjust the curve of the fade by dragging up or down within the start and end points.

  • Automation Select: When automation is active, the automation select tool allows you to select automation data for editing. Show Advanced Tools in the Advanced Preferences pane must be selected to enable automation tools.

  • Automation Curve: You can bend an automation curve by dragging it with the automation curve tool.

  • Marquee: Use the marquee tool to select and edit regions and parts of regions. You drag the marquee tool over the objects you want to select or edit. After you’ve made a selection with the marquee tool, clicking Play on your transport will start your project at the beginning of your selection and playback will stop at the end of the selection.

    The marquee selection can also be used for punch recording. The marquee tool is flexible.

  • Flex: With the flex tool selected, you can grab an audio region’s waveform to manipulate it and change its rhythm. The flex tool will save you from throwing away recordings that contain mistakes because you can fix them. It’s like having a time machine.

You have two tools available at all times. The first tool, chosen by the left tool menu on the menu bar, is the tool that’s currently available. The second tool, chosen by the right tool menu, is available by pressing Command. You can select any tool to be your Command-click tool.

If you’re slicing a lot of regions, make the scissors your Command-click tool. Different workflows require different tools, and the Command-click tool will help you accomplish your work quickly.