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Essential Keyboard Shortcuts: Tracks & Groups

Black keyboard buttons

Learning the keyboard shortcuts of your DAW will give you a major boost in your production workflow and productivity. It can also help keep your creative energies flowing when recording and mixing by not encumbering your ideas with the sometimes clumsy interface of pointing and clicking.

One of the most essential keyboard shortcuts is creating tracks and track groups. Even the simplest pieces of music can end up having dozens of tracks when you add up all of the audio recordings, virtual instruments, effects sends and buses. If you’re clicking your mouse around to create and organize all of these tracks, you’re wasting time. Here are the essential functions worth learning today.

Create a New Track

Plain and simple. Creating a new track is as easy as a keystroke in every major DAW. In most cases, a dialogue box is brought up with the option for you to select the kind of track you want to create.

Shift + Command + N makes new track in Logic Pro and Pro Tools. (The “N” is for new.) Ableton lets your skip the dialogue box by giving you different shortcuts, Control + T (PC) / Command + T (Mac) makes a new audio track, while Shift + Control + T (PC) / Shift + Command + T (Mac) creates a new MIDI track.

Create a New Group

A group is a number of tracks that are linked together. Adjustments made to one track in the group typically affect the other tracks in the group, so that you can adjust a whole section by manipulating just one fader. An example of this is with a drum recording. Typically, the snare, kick and cymbals would all be recording in separate tracks. Once you’re in the mixing phase, it’s much easier to mix the drums as one stem in the mix than having to tweak all three tracks. So you would put the all of the tracks that make up the drums into a group.

To create a group in Pro Tools and the Mac version of Ableton, select the tracks you want to link (shift + click) and the hit Command + G. The PC version of Ableton works with Control + G. Logic Pro unfortunately only allows you to designate groups by clicking in the Mix window.

Though simple, don’t underestimate the effectiveness of learning these two shortcuts by heart. It will cut your mixing and mastering time down significantly and allow the creativity to keep flowing.

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