Pro Tools FAQ


I don't have a number pad on my mac, how can I use the numerous Pro Tools shortcuts which require a number pad?
There is a way around not having a number pad however it is not free, but it does have the added benefit of equiping your mac with a very useful piece of software the functionality of which far excedes Pro Tools alone.

Cheap usb numberpads are availalbe from amazon, this one works well and is about as cheap as they come.

The concept:
Replace rarely used and duplicated shortcut keys in Pro Tools with emulated presses of the equivalent number pad keys whilst maintaining logical relationships with the original keyboard shortcuts so you can still remember them when you do have the opportunity to use a number pad with Pro Tools.

In Pro Tools, the F keys are primarily used to select editing tools and edit modes. This is a commonly used feature, is necessary, and should not be changed. Cmd+number also dupicates the functionality of each F key e.g. F1 = Shuffle edit mode, Cmd+1 = Shuffle edit mode, F2 = Slip edit mode, Cmd+2 = Slip edit mode.
You never use Cmd+1 to enable shuffle mode correct? (Did you know that shortcut did even that?) All of the Cmd+number shortcuts are wasted shortcuts which could be redeployed to be the equivalent of pressing Cmd+number pad key (even if you don't have a number pad).

Enter Keyboard Maestro...

Keyboard Maestro (KM from now on) allows keys to be remapped. Not just single key presses but key presses with modifier keys too. It is £29 but offers many more useful features than simply simulating number pad key presses, but I'll mention these later.
There may be other pieces of software out there which are cheaper or even free, but I know this works and works well. Feel free to look and if you find any alternatives, let me know and I will update the FAQ.

KM allows for 'Groups' to be created. Create a group which is "available in the following applications..." and select Pro Tools. This prevents shortcuts in every application across the mac being overridden and only changes key functions when Pro Tools has focus.

Now add your shortcuts using the following settings. Hold Cmd when you select the "simulate keystroke" option, and select "number pad 1".

This is an example macro to serve as an example of one useful shortcut. It would not be useful to simply just add all the necessary shortcuts to keyboard maestro by downloading a complete Pro Tools shortcut file. Discovering them and adding them manually will be much more useful and rewarding than this. Look through the menus for shortcuts with the line around the number to indicate that that shortcut involves the number pad.

Other Keyboard Maestro features:

As mentioned previously, KM has numerous other features. I only use a small fraction of the available features but the most useful ones (as in used several times every time I use my map) are:

Specific shortcuts to launch and switch focus to specific programs. My recommendations are Shift+Alt+Cmd+appropriate letter.
Text replacement. Type a specific text or code and it will be replaced with other text. If you often type the same passages of text these can be entered automatically for you.
Your own custom menu of shortcuts to select based on the currently running program. I use this to give me easier access to the AudioSuite plugins by clicking on the KM icon in the task bar.
Punching in with pre-roll isn't working when I record, this is driving me mental! How can I make this function work again just like it did in the good ol' days?
Turning off dynamic transport usually does the trick and makes pre-roll work as expected. Remember to make sure "Count Off" is turned off on the transport window too (this won't stop it working, it's just annoying).

The shortcut is Ctrl+Cmd+P
Why is my edit selection being cleared every time I stop playback?
This is a common problem, and is the result of inadvertantly enabling the snappily titled "Timeline Insertion Follows Playback" function. This places the edit cursor at the position where the playback cursor currently resides, and this is moved when playback is stopped when this function is enabled.

The reason that this function is enabled so frequently by accident is that the shortcut to enable it is "N" (with command focus on the Edit window). The "N" key is easily caught when pressing the spacebar to start / stop playback. Press the N key and your selections should remain intact.