Mike Slinn
Mike Slinn

Pro Tools Overview

Published 2020-03-01. Last modified 2022-11-08.
Time to read: 5 minutes.

This page is part of the av_studio collection, categorized under Pro Tools, Studio.

Mike has a Pro Tools Artist subscription.

Avid Support

Avid’s support sucks. Badly. The Facebook forum is better, and Avid employees are active there. The Reddit group r/protools is also worthwhile.

General Principles

  1. Before making a recording, unplug all inputs that are not in use
  2. Never delete anything; copy and modify the copy instead

Session Setup

When the Interleaved option is enabled, all newly recorded or imported (and converted) stereo or greater-than-stereo multichannel files in the session will be manipulable as single entities.

You can change the Interleaved setting for the currently open session or project in the Session Setup window.

I always leave the Interleaved option enabled.


Pro Tools provides four different Edit Modes for manipulating audio clips on the timeline.

  • Grid mode affects the movement and placement of audio and MIDI clips, the way operations such as Copy and Paste work, also how the edit tools operate (trim, selector, grabber, etc), and automation modification. Ctrl-mouse slips tracks. Grids can be based on musical values (eighth notes, for example) or time code values. This mode is also handy for loop based work; it allows the added flexibility of being able to drop regions wherever you want, but it keeps them locked in to the musical timing of the piece. Use this mode when editing drum parts for timing, because it is quick and easy to drop individual drum hits to specific musical timing values.
  • Shuffle mode is great for working with loops and grooves. It allows you to move an audio region, so it is butted up against another region, or the beginning of the track. Shuffle mode also allows the markers on the timeline as well as the tracks to be moved. You can move, trim, cut, delete or paste clips freely within a track, but their movement is constrained by other clips. If you place several clips on a track, they will snap to each other. You can then shuffle their order, but you cannot separate the clips, nor overlap them. If there were to be a silence between clips, and you shuffle them, the silence will be preserved. If you add another clip to the beginning of a track, all subsequent clips are shuffled to the right. If you trim a portion of the clip, all clips will be shuffled according to this length of trimmed space. More detail here.
  • Slip mode allows you to place an audio region anywhere you wish, independent of any grid or time code values. This mode is handy for working with regions that do not have any relevance to the musical timing, for example vocal and guitar tracks. If you place a region over another region, the first region will be cut off at the point where the new region starts and/or ends.
  • Spot Mode is ideal for working with sound effects in videos. When you move an audio region, or pull an audio file out of the audio regions list (on the right side of the edit window), a dialog box pops up requesting the location for the region. Once you input the time code value for the region, the audio file will be dropped there for you.

State Buttons

The blue buttons are:

  • Selector Tool (top row)
  • Tab to transients
  • Link timeline and edit selection
  • Link track and edit selection
  • Automation follows edit
  • Layered editing

Hot Keys

See thePro Tools Keyboard Shortcuts page. For a 10keyless keyboard with Windows, select the PC Generic keyboard.

Key Modifiers

When A/Z Edit Key is enabled, use keyboard to navigate.

P Up

; Down

L Left

, right


Ctrl-= Toggle Mix sub-window on top

Ctrl-D duplicate selection

Ctrl-E Cut clip at selection

Ctrl-G Group selected tracks

Ctrl-N new session

Ctrl-Shift-L Loop toggle

Ctrl-Shift-N New track

Ctrl-Shift-W Close session

Ctrl-Alt-B Bounce mix (mixdown)

Win-P Select previous track

Win-; Select next track

Alt-Win-Shift-= Toggle MIDI Editor


Enter Return to start of session

Ctrl-space Start recording

Space Stop recording

Ctrl-. Stop recording and discard take

Alt-L Loop record toggle

Ctrl-Alt-L Loop record toggle

Tracks & Compositing

Alt-Shift-D Duplicate track

Alt-Shift-N Move selection to new playlist.

Shift-S Solo playlists with cursor.

Win-Alt-v copy selected portion of selected playlist to main playlist

Ctrl-Win-\ duplicate selected track to playlist.
Ctrl-Win-Alt-\ duplicate all tracks to playlists.
Ctrl-Win-Alt-Shift-\ duplicate selected tracks to playlists.

Win-\ add a new playlist to a single selected track.
Win-Alt-\ creates a new Pro Tools playlist on all tracks (including inactive ones).
Win-Alt-Shift-\ creates new playlists only on selected tracks.

Grid Mode

Ctrl-Mouse Slip tracks

During Playback

Down arrow start selection

Up arrow extend selection


Enter Go to start of session

Space Start/stop playback / Record stop

Ctrl-Space / F12 Record start

Shift-R Record enable selected tracks


Ctrl-[ horizontal zoom out

Ctrl-] horizontal zoom in

Export MP3

  1. Highlight a track that spans the entire timeline
  2. File / Bounce Mix (Ctrl-Alt-B)
  3. Before saving, Choose the directory (E:\music\renders) and press the Use current folder button.
  4. Save


Third-Party Plugin Issues

I purchased a Aphex Aural Exciter and Big Bottom Pro Bundle Full License from Avid. The product is made by RØDE in Australia.

I was unable to install using the Avid Link app. Avid does not have good support for anything web-related, including download issues. Their engineering department does not seem to have the necessary skills, and they tend to over-complicate things without any consideration for user experience. The support team is disinterested and does not even pretend to care. I give Avid a big fail on all things web-related, and everything customer-related.

When I tried to manually install using the URL provided from Avid Link, I discovered that Avid's download link was corrupt. Eventually I realized that the problem was caused by uBlock Origin, so I disabled it for avid.com, and I cleared the browser cookies for avid.com as well. After that I was able to download and manually install Aphex_Systems_Bundle_18_8_Win_104307.zip.

Documentation Not Provided

Avid offers no documentation for this product. The product has virtual knobs and dials but no explanation of what the controls do. RØDE's tech support sent me the manual (Aphex_Plugins_Guide_v80_56069.pdf).

Mix Issues

If levels are not right, this is the default setup.


  1. Set the SM7B input gain to 47, ensure orange 48V is on.
  2. Set the Audix input gain to 49.
  3. Select Phones 1, set output level to 0dB.
  4. Verify Software Input AN 1/2 for Phones 1 is at -11dB.

Pro Tools

  1. Press Ctrl-= and ensure Pro Tools input levels are maximized as shown to the right.
  2. Ensure that the red record lights are on for the SM7B and Audix channels.

Pro Tools Issues

  • RME TotalMix input gains on microphone are fine, no clipping, strong signal, but Pro Tools seems to amplify the inputs a lot when displaying the meter levels (the recorded signal is fine).
  • Trashing preferences can solve intractable problems. Mike bought Trasher 3. It works well.