Pro Tools Fundamentals - The Target Button

11-08-2014 11:00 AM

Often when deciding what to post an article about I’ll open Pro Tools and just look around for something useful but overlooked. I’m sure I’m not alone in knowing far more about Pro Tools than I actually use and while learning a feature is all very well, unless it becomes embedded into your workflow you’re unlikely to use it regularly. One such feature of Pro Tools is the target button which I have to admit I’ve ignored pretty comprehensively for many years. So am I missing something?
What Is The Target Button?

The Target button (which used to look like a round archery target but has since turned square) is found in the top right of some floating windows in Pro Tools and its purpose is to direct actions towards a particular window when multiple windows are displayed. At its simplest it can be used to “de-focus” a plug-in window (either real time or audiosuite, though the target button is a recent addition to the audiosuite window) allowing a second plug-in window to be opened without the other closing. Admittedly this is more easily achieved by holding shift before opening the second window but it does illustrate the point that the target button being lit makes that window the “important one”.

What Else Is The Target Button For?

There are a few commonly used keyboard shortcuts which apply to the plug-in window, specifically those for saving, copying and pasting plug-in settings and it is when using these that the target button becomes really useful. To illustrate the problem the target button gets around, here is an example using a worksurface. When copying and pasting plug-in settings between plug-ins on an Icon worksurface it is easy to tell Pro Tools which plug-in I want to copy from and paste to - I press CMD+Shift and the Sel button on the relevant plug-in, the console flashes up “copy” and using the same modifiers I press the BMP button on the plug-in and the console displays “paste” - Job done. The reason this is a useful illustration of the role of the target button is that if you want to do the same thing using just a keyboard and mouse you need a way of telling Pro Tools which plug in you want to copy from and which plug-in you wish to paste to. So to achieve the same outcome using keyboard and mouse I would target the source plug-in using the target button, copy setting using CMD+Shift+C (Ctrl+Shift+C on a PC), specify the destination plug-in using the target button and paste setting using CMD+Shift+V (Ctrl+Shift+V on a PC).

Target Button In Sends And Output Windows

The target button also exists in floating send and output windows. In this case the target button allows you to open a new send or output window without closing the previous one. This can be confusing if you don’t know that the new floating window will be created on top of the previous window, totally obscuring what is happening. Unless you know to look behind the newly created window you might not realise what is happening. By contrast the alternative method of shift-clicking cascades the new windows leaving you in no doubt about exactly how many windows are open!
Targeted Midi Editor

The target button also occurs in the midi editor in Pro Tools. In this case the targeted midi editor mirrors the current edit selection in the edit window (or the position of the insertion point). You can have as many midi editors open as you like but only one can be targeted and while they can all be set to scroll to follow the edit window, an untargeted midi editor will not update its contents to reflect the current insertion point or edit selection wheras the targeted midi editor will.
So, for me I should probably pay more attention to the target button in plug-in windows as copying and pasting settings is far quicker that way. It’s lovely to have use of worksurfaces but I’d rather not rely on access to equipment I don’t own to get a job done more quickly when alternatives using mouse and keyboard exist. As for opening multiple windows, using shift is definitely the preferred workflow for me.