Adventures In Audio

Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Cubase - Why keyboard shortcuts don't work


Maybe I should apologise for the clickbaity title, or maybe I've just been watching too much YouTube.

Clearly in any software, keyboard shortcuts can save a lot of time. Imagine having to take a trip up to the menu and back each time you wanted to save or print.

But there are limitations to what shortcuts can achieve and I write this as balance to the many blog posts and YouTube videos whose bloggers and vloggers worship keyboard shortcuts as though they are the new Greek and Roman gods.

I have two complaints...

Too many shortcuts

The most obvious failing of shortcuts is that there are too darn many of them.

I was going to count how many shortcuts there are in Pro Tools, but I gave up when I saw that Avid's PDF guide - only to the shortcuts mind, not the full manual - runs to 68 pages!

OK no problem you say - just learn the shortcuts you need.

Yes, I agree. The question might be knowing which shortcuts to learn but that is answered by taking note when you find yourself accessing the same menu item repeatedly, then look in the guide to see if there is a shortcut for that.

But too many shortcuts? Yes, if you need to use multiple softwares. I'm lucky. I only need to use Pro Tools, Logic Pro, and Final Cut Pro X for video. Actually I don't need to use Logic Pro but I do like it for certain tasks.

Can my brain hold all of the keyboard shortcuts for three softwares? Absolutely not. I am perfectly happy to say that the size of my brain is inadequate, inadequate even for two. Your mileage may vary.

The problem is compounded when shortcuts are different in different softwares or, worse still, the same shortcuts have different functions. The number of times I hit the wrong key for zoom in Pro Tools and Final Cut Pro X tends towards infinity.

And I'm lucky. I only use three shortcut-heavy softwares. Some people have to use many more - in particular people who work with others and have to match software with whoever they are receiving stuff from or sending stuff to.

OK, moving on...

It's a sign

Ever seen a sign? You know, a mystical, woo-woo sign that's an omen or portent that your life choices so far have been poor and you need to change direction. Or 'pivot' as modern jargon has it.

I'd say that too much use of keyboard shortcuts can be a sign.

It's a sign that you're doing the same thing over and over again. So instead of B for blade, click to cut, A for select, click to select, delete to delete, you just option-right-square-bracket. The fact that you probably don't know which software uses that and that there even is such a shortcut clearly supports my points. It's in Final Cut Pro X by the way and it is a useful time-saver.

Yes, keyboard shortcuts are great for repetitive tasks but, if you're regularly performing repetitive tasks, shouldn't you wonder whether you're the monkey and not the organ grinder as you should be?

I'm going to say that regularly performing repetitive tasks is a sign you should be paying attention to. Really, shouldn't you be the creative? The one who breathes the project into life, steers its creative direction, and blesses every action by your minions of which you approve. What a way to mix metaphors, but surely you see what I mean?

If you're performing repetitive tasks yourself then, whether or not you use keyboard shortcuts, you should be looking for ways to concentrate on your creativity and have someone else be your monkey.

Necessary evil?

I could write a summary at this point or come to a conclusion whether keyboard shortcuts are good or bad. But keyboard shortcuts are not the best thing since sliced bread. We have to use them and we do use them. In the future, there will be a better way.

Here are a few of links to show you just how many keyboard shortcuts there are in the known universe...

Pro Tools (PDF)
Logic Pro
Final Cut Pro
Premiere Pro

Sunday January 2, 2022

The Audio Masterclass Music Production and Sound Engineering Course


Ready to take your recording to the next level? Take a 30-day FREE TRIAL of the Audio Masterclass Music Production and Sound Engineering Course - Our most popular course.

Like, follow, and comment on this article at Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram or the social network of your choice.

David Mellor

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

Audio Masterclass gives you all the technical knowledge and skills to bring your musical dreams to life

The Audio Masterclass Music Production and Sound Engineering Course

Get the most from your studio with the Audio Masterclass Music Production and Sound Engineering Course.

Learn more...

Learn Pro Tools with our amazing range of video courses

Pro Tools video course catalog

Browse Pro Tools courses...

Learn Logic Pro with our amazing range of video courses

Logic Pro video course catalog

Browse Logic Pro courses...

Learn Cubase with our amazing range of video courses

Cubase video course catalog

Browse Cubase courses...

Audio Masterclass gives you all the technical knowledge and skills to bring your musical dreams to life

The Audio Masterclass Music Production and Sound Engineering Course

Get the most from your studio with the Audio Masterclass Music Production and Sound Engineering Course.

Learn more...

More from Adventures In Audio...

Making a perfect sine wave and animating it

Graphic equalizer demonstration using the Waves GEQ Classic

Harmonic enhancement: In the master or individual tracks? (Can you hear the difference?)

What will happen if your snare drum clips?

EQ demonstration HF bell boost

How much bass can a Bluetooth speaker produce?

One weird trick for monitoring your mix on a Bluetooth speaker

Can a preamp's pad work as a pop filter

Get the sound you want from the tools you have

What is the phase button for on a microphone preamplifier?

Choosing studio monitors - Is it your most important buying decision?

What is a channel strip? Why should you use one?

Audio effects explained - A quick guide for beginners

How to choose the best key for your song

The amazing stereo effect that no-one can hear

What is the best studio microphone?

Bad Audio Diary BAD 9: What's wrong with this picture?

Weird and wonderful sounds using the Air Music Tech Chorus plug-in

The end of latency?

An investigation of the pre-delay parameter of the Lexicon 480L reverb plug-in

Add reverb to your recordings using the natural echo chamber technique

Why you should ventilate your home recording studio

Q: What is your main concern if your interest is voice over?

Why do microphones sound different?