Its an old joke that the best thing about digital is that there are so many different ways to do a given task but the worst thing about digital is that there are so many different ways to do a given task! This is true all the way from importing files through to the final touches to your automation.
Even the tools which I have always assumed gave Pro Tools its name can be approached differently and very early on in my Pro Tools career I got very comfortable switching tools using the function keys. The Smart tool offers automatic switching of tools and its hardly a new feature. It makes me wonder why I’ve never really used it that much. I think I just didn’t know it was there to begin with and now its hard wired as a second choice for me.
So, what is the Smart tool and what am I missing? The Smart tool combines the Selector, Grab and Trim tools into one, the tool available changes depending on where your mouse is in the clip. It also provides Fade and Crossfade tools. Its very simple to use. To enable the Smart tool either click on the border above the Trim, Selector and Grab tools or press two of the function keys for any of these tools (F6, F7, F8)
To use the Smart tool as the Selector tool mouse over this area
To use the Smart tool as the Grab tool mouse over this area
To use the Smart tool as the Trim tools mouse over this area. To reverse the direction of trim press Option/Alt.
To use the Smart tools to fade clips in and out, mouse over this area
To use the Smart tools to crossfade clips in and out mouse over this area. Keep in mind that there has to be material beyond the in or out point of the clip to preform a crossfade, otherwise Pro Tools will warn you about ‘Invalid Bounds” - i.e. you are trying to crossfade beyond the beginning or end of the parent file.
For more on using the Selector, Trim and Grab tools see this Pro Tools Fundamentals article