Pro Tools Tips and Tricks Malcolm Gladwell wrote the non-fiction book titled Outliers: The Story of Success and Gladwell repeatedly mentions the "10,000-Hour Rule", claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours. Many people have felt skeptical of the “10,000 hour rule”—the idea that anyone can become an expert in any domain with 10,000 hours of practice. I happen to understand the rule Gladwell refers to. I don't believe it applies to everyone in every profession but if you use your time wisely, it will pay off and consider you to be an expert.
I've been using Pro Tools for a very long time now and I strive to be more efficient every time I launch the program. I love using as many shortcuts as I can to help speed up the editing process. That way I can focus more on improving or fixing what I am working on. Here is a list of tips and tricks that is a good place to start:
1. Use the Pro Tools Auto backup feature. Set to automatically save a session copy every minute or every 5 minutes: Setup > Preferences > Operation > Auto Backup.
2. Quickly compare your mix, before and after plug-ins. Select the tracks of which you want to bypass the inserts, press and hold Ctrl+Alt / Command+Option, and click the insert. If you click the second insert, all second inserts in all selected tracks will be bypassed.
3. Set your favorite plug-ins to open with your own default settings. In the plug-in window, load your preset or settings, click the tiny double arrow button in the upper left corner, and select Set As User Default.
4. Fit edit window by hitting option(alt) + A.
5. Get used to hitting Command + S to save your session manually, on the fly.
6. You can avoid recording to the wrong drive by opening the workspace browser (Window > Workspace) and, in the A (Audio) column, select T for Transfer, P for Playback or R for Record, according to each drive’s function. That way, Pro Tools will know if you’re trying to do something wrong – it will only record to the drives you specify.
7. Save disc space & resources: Consolidate your audio files and save it as a new session. Select the tracks and/or timeline range, and go to Edit > Consolidate. Besides simplifying the process of exporting audio to other DAWs, this will improve performance as well.
8. Use the track show/hide feature to save space and be organized. Instead of deleting tracks, make them inactive (to save DSP) and hide them – just in case you need them again.
9. The first thing to do when mixing is (usually) to clean up all extra recorded noise in all the tracks. Learn to use Strip Silence (Edit > Strip Silence) correctly to do this quickly.
10. Record each take to its own playlist. Create a new playlist (01) and start recording take 1 there. That way 01 = take 1, 02 = take 2 and so on. Keep the original playlist as a comp track.
11. Remove unnecessary audio files from the audio regions list frequently. Click Regions > Select > Unused, Regions > Clear… and then click Remove. This way, Pro Tools will not load those files when the session is started.
12. Use Mix groups! It’s a great time saver. An organized session with well grouped tracks allows you to mute/solo/edit whole sections, such as drums, guitars or background vocals.
13. Label each track before you record. This avoids having file names encoded with numbers, that don’t say anything about where they belong.
14. Label your inputs, outputs and auxiliary buses in Setup > I/O. It makes routing operations so much easier. As an alternative, you can also rename them by right clicking on the assignment (input, output, send) in the mix window.
15. Create an effects template session so you can quickly load your favorite send/return effects. Save it with all the delays, reverbs and other plug-ins with the settings you tend to use. Then use File > Import > Session Data to import your template effects into your session.