Ten Essential Key Commands For Any DAW You Need To Learn NOW!

1. Save

Almost every DAW around has a built in auto save feature, though before you can take advantage of it you may have to set it up as it may not be enabled by default. So, little use that will be to you in the event of a crash. Of course you should certainly set up autosave and have it available as an additional layer of security, but the ONLY guaranteed way to make sure you won’t lose your work is by manually saving your projects. If you don’t take anything else away from this list, do yourself a favour and commit the save command in your daw of choice to memory and use it often!

2. Bounce In Place

If you are an avid sound designer or otherwise working on an underpowered system then you may often find yourself needing to frequently bounce tracks in place with effects. With the appropriate key command at the ready you’ll be more productive than ever.

3. Change Tools

The first law of mastering any program is “know thy tools!” I am still surprised by how many accomplished producer and composer colleagues change tools by selecting them via the dock at the top of their DAW. Considering the number of times a producer has to switch tools in a day while producing it is slightly maddening to think of how much time is wasted in the process of manually selecting them. The good news is that there is a better way. Every DAW provides some form of tool selection by key command, some offering multiple selection methods. The short time spent familiarizing yourself with your DAWs shortcuts for tool selection and committing them to memory will be well worth the investment over time.

4. Enable/Disable Snap

Ever try to make an ever so precise edit on a region only to have it suddenly jump to the next beat or bar. Frustrating isn’t it? You needed to disable snap feature, which maddeningly enough is usually set by default in most programs. Snap certainly has its uses but to be an effective producer, you ought to have the ability to use or disable the feature at will. Most programs have a key command to disable the snap, you should also learn the modifier to temporarily disable it so you can more easily switch between snap and snapless workflows.

5. Create/Edit/View Marker

Markers are an essential part of keeping a session well organized. When I am recording an orchestra or working on a sample library, it is not uncommon for me to have over 100 markers. Being able to create, name and edit markers on the fly when tracking is an essential part of my workflow and I would not be able to do it without committing the related key commands to memory.

6. Set Locators/Cycle Mode

When mixing or performing intense editing, we often find ourselves listening to the same bit of audio again and again. Used along with the toggle cycle mode command, the set locators key command can be very useful in allowing you to quickly make and playback selections.

7. Zoom To Fit

If you want to see a full screen view of your entire project then you will need this key command. Used in combination with other key commands this will allow you to very quickly navigate through your session and make editing more fluent.

8. Zoom To Track

When you need to get a close up view of a track for critical editing, zoom to track is your best friend, this command will fill your screen with the selected track, making it much easier to see the details of a piece of audio.

9. Forward/Backward By One Bar

This is one of my secret weapons for editing and assembling a track quickly. Use this along with cut, paste and place at playhead for a lightning quick arranging workflow.

10. Open Mixer View

The two screens most of us spend the most time in are the arrangement window and the mix window. These days, many programs offer both a mixer view that is integrated into the arrangement window and a full screen mixer view. If your program offers both options then you should learn the shortcuts for both views.

Written by Olajide Paris