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The Most Useful Pro Tools Shortcuts

Published on August 28, 2012 by

Every good audio engineer or producer knows his digital audio workstation. 99% of them learned some or more shortcuts to save time, money and nerves. In this article, I present the most useful Protools shortcuts in order to help you ( and me ) increase our workflow in Pro Tools to hopefully create some great music.

I divided the shortcuts into 4 groups: Basic, recording, editing and mixing. That doesn’t mean that these shortcuts are only applicable in one group but you would get one long list which you couldn’t oversee and probably never use correctly if you put them all together. Creating a Marker, for example, I put in the recording group. However, you could also use it while editing or mixing.

In Pro Tools you have a function called “Keyboard Focus” which allows you to use shortcuts from A-Z without having to use the Command, Option, Control or Shift keys. In my eyes it is much easier to simply learn the shortcuts that work globally irrespectively of the Keyboard Focus. In that way you don’t have to wonder whether you are in Region, Edit Window or Group mode for the Keyboard Focus. This is how the Keyboard Focus symbol looks like:

Keyboard Focus Pro Tools shortcuts

And now forget about it.

In this article, I explain some of the Pro Tools Shortcuts in context. At the end of each section you find the shortcuts I talked about and some more that are definatly worth considering.

My lists are written for Mac users but if you use Windows you can easily swap the following keys:

  • Mac = Windows
  • Command = Control
  • Option = Alt
  • Control = Start

Also, consider that each version of Pro Tools is slightly different. Some shortcuts might not work in one version but in another. If you want to work with a printable version then download the PDF file I prepared that contains all of the usefull shortcuts mentioned in this post:

1. Basic Pro Tools Shortcuts

First of all everybody should get to know the standard shortcuts like New Session, Open Session, Save Session and so on. Just have a look at the list below, open a new session and try them out. What really makes a difference in your workflow is to create a new track without even touching the mouse.

Always, try to do as much working steps without using the mouse. Create a new track with Command+Shift+N. Now go ↑ ↓ to increase or decrease the number of tracks. Use Command+↑ ↓ to change the type of your new track and Command+→ ← to switch between Stereo/Mono/LCR and so on. To add a new row simply use Command+Shift+↑ ↓. In the end your selection could look something like this:

New Track Pro Tools Shortcuts

And that all without using the mouse one single time. It can be pretty fast if you know what you want.

ShortcutFunction
ShortcutFunction
Command+NNew Session
Command+OOpen Session
Command+SSave Session
Shift+Command+IImport Audio
Command+QQuit Protools
Command+Shift+NNew track
Arrow up/downChange number of new tracks
Command+Arrow up/downChange type of new track
Command+Arrow left/rightChange output type (mono/stereo/lcr..)
Command+Shift+Arrow up/downRemove/add a row in the new track window

2. Recording Shortcuts

From now on NEVER hit the record or play button with your mouse again. Use Command+Space (or Numpad 3) or Space to start and stop recording and Space to play back and stop playing back.

Use Option+L or Numpad 5 to toggle Loop Recording and Command+Shift+P or Numpad 6 to toggle QuickPunch. Besides that you can also Control+Click the main record or playback button to cycle through the given options.

Pro Tools shortcuts play record

In Recording and Mixing it is really helpful to work with markers. Markers let you jump through your session to a specific point you defined before. To create such a point move the cursor to your point of interest and hit the Enter key on the Numpad. Give it a name and number you like. Now you can jump to that point through hitting . + number + . on the numpad. A really handy tool.

Marker Protools Shortcuts

ShortcutFunction
ShortcutFunction
Command+Space , F12 or 3 on numpadStart recording
SpaceStop recording
Option+L / Numpad 5Loop Recording toggle
Command+Shift+P / Numpad 6QuickPunch toggle
Control+Click on main Record Enable buttonswitch through types of Recording
Command+Click on track Record Enable button Record-safe track
ReturnJump to start of Session
,/. or 1/2 on numpadMove cursor backward and forward
Shift+,/.Rewind or fast-forward
Enter on NumpadCreate a Marker
.+number of marker+. (on numpad)Jump to marker with the number you choose

3. Editing Shortcuts

In editing it is quite important to learn the shortcuts for basic functions like Undo, Redo, Cut, Separate, Consolidate and so on. Just check out my list. You can either select the right tool for the action you want to perform by pressing Command+1/2/3/4/5/6/7 but I would rather recommend to stick to the multitool Command+7 and to learn the shortcuts for all other functions you need.

Zooming is also a big issue when it comes to editing. There are three forms of zooming in Pro Tools: Horizontal Zoom (Command+[ or ]), increasing or decreasing the amplitude of the waveform within one Region (Command+Option+[ or ]) and increase or decrease of track height (Control+Option+↑ ↓).

waveform zoomed in

waveform zoomed in

Another quick tip: If you zoomed in or out too much on the waveform use Command+Option+Control+[ to jump back to the original amplitude.

waveform zoomed out

waveform zoomed out

One last thing on editing: Use shortcuts to make fades. Command+F simple as that!

ShortcutFunction
ShortcutFunction
Comand+ZUndo
Command+Shift+ZRedo
Command+XCut
Command+ESeperate at selection
Command+HHeal separation
Option+Shift+3Consolidate selection
Command+CCopy
Command+VPaste
Command+ASelect All
Command+DDuplicate selection
Command+RRepeat selection
Command+TTrim Region to Selection
Command+1/2/3/4/5/6/7Select tool (7 is multitool)
Command+[ or ]Horizontal Zoom
Control+Option+AZoom until all tracks are visible horizontally
Control+1/2/3/4/5Recall zoom presets 1-5
Command+Option+[ or ]Zoom in/out on a waveform
Command+Option+Control+[Show original waveform size
Control+Option+Up/DownIncrease or decrease track height
Command+FCreates Fade
Option+DFade to Start
Option+GFade to End

4. Mixing Shortcuts

While mixing you need to switch back and forth between the Edit Window and the Mix Window. Here you can simply hit Command+=.

Furthermore, there are two major areas that you can get a grip on perfectly by using shortcuts:

1. Selecting and executing

Select multiple tracks in the mixing window by Command+Click or Option+Click to select all.

Selection

Now, as you made your selection you can either assign single Inputs/Outputs/Sends/Inserts by simply clicking with your left mouse button, assign to your selection by Option+Shift+Click or assign to all irrespective of your selection by Option+Click.

assign Pro Tools Shortcuts

Another funny option in Pro Tools is to assign Inputs, Outputs or Sends in ascending order. Make a selection and Command+Option+Click on a number and watch the magic happens.

ascending order

2. Groups

Fairly simple but useful: Command+G to make a Group for your selection.

Groups Protools Shortcuts

Also consider Option+Click on a fader or knob to let it jump back to zero and Command+Slide for a more precise scale on faders and knobs.

ShortcutFunction
ShortcutFunction
Command+=Switch between Edit and Mix window
Option+Command+MNarrow Mix / Normal Miix
Command+ClickAdd new track to selection
Option+Shift+ClickChange Input/Output/Sends/Insert/Mute/Solo FOR SELECTION
Option+ClickSelect all /execute all /change all /add to all/ mute all/ solo all
Shift+ClickSelection from selected to where you click
Option+Command+Select Input/Output/SendsAssign Input/Output/Sends in ascending order from the point you selected
Command+Shift+RRename selected regions
Option+Click on Fader or KnobJump back to zero
Command+Slide Fader or Turn KnobMore precise selection
Option+Drag and DropCopy Insert
Command+Click on InsertBypasses Insert
Command+Option+Click on InsertBypasses a row of Inserts
Command+Click on SoloSolo-safe track
Command+GMake a Group for selection
Command+Shift+GSuspend all groups
Comman+Option+BBounce to Disk

That is about it. Come back to this list from time to time and check out the shortcuts you forgot over time and the most useful Pro Tools shortcuts will be second nature for you in no time at all. I hope you found this useful. Leave a comment if you like.

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  1. Thanks for the Pro Tools shortcuts, really great! I used to use Cubase and now I am fighting my way to Pro Tools and these will come in handy :)

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