Pro Tools Fundamentals: Mix Window Essentials

04-03-2014 09:03 AM

After writing Pro Tools Session Navigation In Five Shortcuts I wondered whether there could be an equivalent list written for the Mix window. In short I decided not. Basic operation of the mix window is largely intuitive but I still think there are a few valuable timesavers worthy of a mention. Some of these are very well known but still worth listing for the benefit of the less experienced user. Others are less well known.

Pro Tools Mix Window Essentials 1. Use of Option/Alt and its variants

Option/Alt clicking in Pro Tools is endlessly useful, either offering a “do to all” (input output assignment), a “set to default”(fader to 0dB or pan to centre) a “do the opposite” (trim or zoom tools) or a “make a copy” action (copying clips or sends). This is quite a big subject but the action I will concentrate on here is the use of Option to set inputs or outputs across all tracks in a session (except master faders). This can be very useful, but far more useful in my opinion is the use of Option/Alt+Shift to set inputs/outputs of selected tracks. To extend this set of commands even further you can add CMD+Option/Cntrl+Alt to cascade inputs or outputs upwards, following the order in the current IO settings. Adding shift will cascade only on selected tracks.

Pro Tools Mix Window Essentials 2. Close all floating windows

CMD+Opt+Cntrl+W or Cntrl+Alt+Start+W is useful if you have a cluttered screen. This is reversible and if you want your floating windows back just repeat the keystroke. There is a variant of this. By using CMD+Option you can close all plugin windows but leave all other floating windows visible (e.g. transport, automation, memory locations etc.). The PC version would be Cntrl+Alt. This however is not a reversible action.
Pro Tools Mix Window Essentials 3. The “Shift + something” shortcuts for bypassing plug-ins

These were a well publicised new feature when they were introduced in PT11, although they were covered by PTE at the time they are so useful they had to be mentioned here. I was really pleased to see these introduced as prior to PT11 the only way of bypassing all plugins on a track I had encountered was to use an Icon worksurface. The following shortcuts will affect any selected tracks.

  • Shift+ A - Bypass all Inserts
  • Shift+ 1 - Bypass Inserts A-E
  • Shift+ 2 - Bypass Inserts F-J
  • Shift+ E - Bypass EQ
  • Shift+ C - Bypass Dynamics
  • Shift+ D - Bypass Delay
  • Shift+ W - Bypass Modulation
  • Shift+ V - Bypass Reverb
  • Shift+ Q - Bypass all sends
  • Shift+ 3 - Bypass Sends A-E
  • Shift+ 4 - Bypass Sends F-J

A favourite technique is to set up alternative processing on Insert slots A-E and F-J and use Shift+1 and Shift+2 to AB between them. Handy!

Pro Tools Mix Window Essentials 4. Clear Clips

I’ve been lucky enough to work a lot on Icon surfaces. Both the D Control and D Command have a way of affecting your workflow and often I have been prompted to find ways of reproducing things which are very obvious on an Icon using just keyboard and mouse. Both the D Control and D Command have a bright red clear clips button. Like many I’ve become a bit compulsive about clearing clips straight away and for all of us who don’t have an Icon surface this can be achieved using Option/Alt+C. Ahh, thats better…
Pro Tools Mix Window Essentials 5. Deselecting All Tracks

A final use for Option/Alt which I have found many new users need is to deselect when all tracks are selected. This usually happens when all the tracks for a session are created simultaneously using the new track dialogue. Newly created tracks are selected by default and there appears to be nowhere else to click to deselect the already selected tracks. Option/Alt clicking will deselect all.