chapter 3Basic Controls

This chapter introduces the Edit window, its toolbar and the various clusters of controls it contains. We’ll cover basic edit modes and look at some of the ways the Edit window’s views can be customized. We’ll also discuss basic timeline navigation using keyboard shortcuts.

Edit Tool Functions

Pro Tools has a number of editing tools that perform various functions within the timeline. The manipulation of clips within the timeline using these tools is highly visual in nature and, as such, is not accessible to screen readers. However, a tremendous amount of edit functionality is available through Pro Tools’ built-in keyboard shortcuts. We’ll refer to keyboard shortcuts throughout this guide and cover them in depth when we discuss editing. Note that, although the Pro Tools manuals refer to these as edit tools, the area where the tools are located is labelled “Cursor Tool Cluster.”

For the following demonstration, refer to the “My PT Session.ptx” document or any available Pro Tools session file.

Key Shortcuts:
  • Select Edit Tools: F5 through F10
  • Select SmarT Tool: F6+F7 or F7+F8

Edit Modes

When editing clips in Pro Tools, the outcome of certain actions depends upon which edit mode is currently selected. The 4 primary edit modes in Pro Tools are:

  1. Shuffle
  2. Slip
  3. Spot
  4. Grid

The 2 modes you will use virtually all the time are Shuffle and Slip. Grid Mode is only applicable when dragging clips in the timeline with a mouse pointer and Spot Mode is used when dragging clips to the timeline with a mouse pointer. Thus, we’ll focus on Shuffle Mode and Slip Mode.

Shuffle Mode

When Shuffle Mode is active, adding or removing data within the timeline affects the position of any existing clips that reside to the right (or later) along the timeline. When removing a clip from among other clips, any material to the right (or later) in the timeline will shift over to fill in the space where the deleted (or cut) clip previously resided. If a clip is inserted (pasted) in between other clips, any clips to the right (later) in the timeline will shift over to the right. Press F1 to enable shuffle Mode. If you’re using Flo Tools, pressing F1 once will indicate whether shuffle Mode is enabled or not. If Shuffle Mode is off, pressing F1 twice quickly will toggle Shuffle Mode on.

For the following demonstration, open the “Shuffle versus slip.ptx” session file.

Key Shortcuts:
  • Shuffle Mode: F1
  • For Flo Tools users, F1 to speak whether Shuffle mode is on, F1 twice to activate Shuffle mode

Slip Mode

When Slip Mode is active, adding or removing data within the timeline does not affect the position of other clips in the timeline. Clips may be freely moved without affecting the position of other clips. Movement of material is unconstrained and the effect of edit functions applies to the currently selected material only. Press F2 to enable Slip Mode. If you’re using Flo Tools, pressing F2 once will indicate whether Slip Mode is enabled or not. If Shuffle Mode is off, pressing F2 twice quickly will toggle Slip Mode on.

Key Shortcuts:
  • Slip Mode: F2
  • For Flo Tools users, F2 to speak whether Slip mode is on, F2 twice to activate Slip mode

Timescales and Rulers

Pro tools uses a Main counter display to numerically represent points along the timeline. The timescale of a session can be set to one of several formats:

  • Bars Beats (Bars and beats)
  • Min:Secs (Minutes and seconds)
  • Timecode
  • Feet+Frames (Feet and frames)
  • Samples

selections made horizontally across the timeline are represented within the Start, End and Length counters which follow the main timescale. An optional Sub Counter offers an additional display of the timescale in an alternate format.

For the following demonstration, refer to the “Blank Session.ptx” document or any available Pro Tools session file.

Key shortcuts:
  • Activate Main Counter: Asterisk on the numeric keypad
  • Activate Start, End and Length Counters: Forward slash on the numeric keypad
  • 0 through 9 on numeric keypad for entering values followed by the Enter Key
  • Command+F1 through F4 and F6 for Flo Tools users to read the counters, double-tap to edit counters
  • Open Main Counter selector (with Flo Tools: Command+Option+F4
  • Open Subcounter Selector (if displayed, with Flo Tools: Command+Option+F6

Grid/Nudge Cluster

The Edit window also displays values for Grid/Nudge settings. Although the Grid value isn’t useful for blind users, the Nudge value is a very important setting. We’ll cover nudge values in depth when we get to editing with keyboard shortcuts.

Key shortcuts:
  • Increase/Decrease Nudge Value: Command+Option+Plus/Hyphen on the numeric keypad
  • Increase/Decrease Nudge Value: Option+Shift+Equals/Hyphen on the numbers row
  • Speak nudge value (with Flo Tools): Command+F7


The Edit window always displays at least one ruler. The main time scale ruler reflects the selected time format currently being used in the session (Bars|Beats, Min:Secs, etc.) Aside from the Main Timescale ruler, Pro Tools can display additional time-based rulers (including all of the available time formats) as well as conductor rulers that include markers, tempo and meter changes among other events. Displaying multiple rulers can sometimes be helpful for sighted users. For blind users, however, since the rulers aren’t necessarily accessible, it might be a good idea to minimize the number of displayed rulers.

MIDI Control Features

The Edit and Transport windows provide access to some additional controls that affect playback and record functions. these items are grouped into a cluster known as the MIDI Controls.

Key shortcuts:
  • Toggle Click On/Off: 7 on the numeric keypad
  • Toggle Countoff On/Off: 8 on the numeric keypad
  • Toggle MIDI Merge On/Off: 9 on the numeric keypad
  • Add Option to above shortcuts for Flo Tools to report status with single-tap and toggle status with double-tap
  • Wait for Note (when enabled in Pro Tools Preferences): F11
  • Tap Tempo: T on QWERTY keyboard after clicking tempo field
Written on January 1, 2022