7 Of My Favorite Pro Tools Navigation Shortcuts

There’s no denying it, Pro Tools is everywhere. I know some of you may prefer doing your work in Logic, Cubase or Live but most professional audio work today touches Pro Tools at some point during it’s life-cycle. You can choose to accept this trend or to fight it. If you choose to fight it then you don’t need to read any further, have a nice day. However, if you are interested in improving your Pro Tools skills please allow me to offer these seven handy navigation keyboard shortcuts.

  1. The RETURN key functions as a return-to-zero command sending the cursor to the beginning (start) of your session. I discuss this more in the next point but you should always strive to keep your hand off the mouse as much as possible. This will allow you to work much faster.
  2. The SPACEBAR toggles the Play and Stop functions in Pro Tools. Hit the Spacebar once and Pro Tools goes into play, hit it again and playback stops. This is one of those “Duh!” shortcuts but I still see way too many engineers using their mouse to engage the transport controls. Get out of this habit. Using these first two shortcuts will make you 15-20% more efficient in your Pro Tools work.
  3. Pressing APPLE+SPACEBAR puts Pro Tools into record without having to put the transport into record-enable. Again, a huge time saver. This one shortcut eliminates having to grab the mouse, click the record-enable button and then click the play button.
  4. Using Command+[ or Command+] allows you to zoom in and out horizontally. I’m constantly using this shortcut as I edit my work. I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record but, huge time-saver.
  5. Hitting the TAB key takes the cursor forward in the session (to the right) to the next region boundary (this is assuming that the Tab To Transient function is turned off). Hitting OPTION+TAB takes the cursor backwards in the session (to the left) to the previous region boundary. This makes it very easy to bounce from region to region within your session.
  6. OPTION+F will fill the window with your selection. In other words, if you make a selection and then hit OPTION+F that selection will be expanded to fill the screen. This is great when you need to look at a particular selection in greater detail.
  7. I guess this last one isn’t necessarily a navigation shortcut but CONTROL+UP/DOWN ARROW keys will increase/decrease track height. This becomes more and more useful as your session fills up with tracks

As a Certified Pro Tools Instructor, I’ve notice time and again that the engineers that take the time to learn their Pro Tools shortcuts get hired much more often than the ones that don’t. If you think about it this makes perfect sense. Using keyboard shortcuts allows you to work more efficiently, which saves your client time and money, making them happy. Happy clients become repeat clients.

What are your favorite Pro Tools shortcuts? Leave a comment and let me know.