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Navigating Pro Tools With Ease

Avid Pro Tools Tips & Techniques By Julian Rodgers
Published December 2021

The Universe Window is an efficient way of navigating your project, but it’s best used in Pro Tools’ Classic Mode, not Dark Mode.The Universe Window is an efficient way of navigating your project, but it’s best used in Pro Tools’ Classic Mode, not Dark Mode.

Navigating the Edit Window is key to speeding up your Pro Tools workflow.

I’m pretty much exclusively a Pro Tools user, though I am aware that many people are users of multiple DAWs, and some people are effectively DAW agnostic. I both admire and am a little confused by such people, as while I can give the impression of superficially knowing my way around other DAWs, I know this veneer of competence to be paper‑thin. The first hurdle for me is basic navigation, and it’s only when I’m in the relatively unfamiliar environment of a different DAW that I appreciate just how thorough my knowledge of navigating the Pro Tools UI really is. This is a big subject but once the absolute basics of starting, stopping, drop‑ins, edits and the like are dealt with, I start to control what I’m seeing to be able to properly see what I’m doing.

Here are some essential tips for changing and controlling what you see in Pro Tools. I’m going to concentrate on managing track height and display, as this is something which is central to the user experience if you favour the Edit Window.

Scroll With It

I’m often surprised when I see big‑name mixers who, during mix walkthroughs, never change their track heights and just scroll up and down the Edit Window. Of course this is a perfectly acceptable way of working, and you can’t argue with the number of Grammys some of the people I’m referring to have, but it strikes me as a workflow that could be made so much more efficient with just a few tips. These are options which in some cases represent different ways of doing the same thing, so in the real world it’s a case of use the ones which suit you best. As with almost everything in Pro Tools, there are several ways of performing most tasks.

When it comes to controlling the horizontal range of what you are viewing on the timeline, I’m still old‑school, using R and T for horizontal zoom, but many people use the mouse scroll wheel or equivalent, in combination with Alt for horizontal zoom or Shift for horizontal scroll. Ultimately it doesn’t matter which you use, as long as you’re not using the ironically named Zoom Tool: using it is far too slow to have the word ‘zoom’ associated with it!

Zooming Around The Universe

Once you have a suitable technique for managing your horizontal display, looking after how your session looks vertically can be very straightforward. Without using any modifiers the scroll wheel will scroll up and down the visible tracks in your session, assuming you have more tracks in your session than you have screen on which to display them.

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