And so we arrive at the last letter of the alphabet. There was only ever one contender for this letter. Zooming, and session navigation in general represents the difference between slick and effortless operation of familiar tools and that feeling of struggling through software as if you are knee-deep in treacle. New users often use the zoom buttons and the zoom tool, I would recommend everyone finds an alternative to these as quickly as possible. Personally I favour using keystrokes but there are useful scroll wheel alternatives to these (Option/Alt with either the scroll wheel or a 2 finger trackpad drag zooms horizontally). Here is a round up of Zoom related tips for use in Pro Tools:
This is a feature I teach to new users as their very first introduction to zooming in Pro Tools. Using the zoom preset buttons zooms in horizontally by preset amounts. By default they zoom in progressively further from 1-5. The defaults are sensibly chosen but if you want to set custom zoom values then CMD+clicking (control on a PC) on a zoom preset button until it flashes will set a custom value. I don’t use zoom presets myself but for a new user they are very simple and they are a very friendly introduction to using keyboard shortcuts as they are the only buttons in Pro Tools with their shortcut written on the button!
Cmd+[, Cmd+] And R+T
Incremental horizontal zooming using CMD+[ or ] (control on a PC) is still something I use every day. Although I use lots of command focus shortcuts, R and T for zoom in /out have never been ones I’ve used much. I still teach using command and square brackets as it always works regardless of whether command focus is active, which is more appropriate for beginners in my opinion.
Option/Alt A, Option/Alt F
These two shortcuts were the first quantum leap in session navigation for me. Option A zooms the edit page out horizontally to show the entire session. Option/Alt F zooms horizontally to fill the screen with the current edit selection. This is something I use constantly. I almost never scroll through sessions horizontally. I’ve never seen the point as I lose my bearings so quickly. Instead I zoom in (Option+F), edit and zoom out again(Option+A). Much better in a typical music session. Try it.
While Option+F zooms horizontally to fill the screen with the edit selection, it won’t fill the screen both horizontally and vertically. If you want to do that you can do it using Zoom Toggle. Find out how in this Pro Tools Fundamentals article.
Zooming the waveform often confuses people as, especially since the introduction of clip gain, there can be confusion as both result in bigger waveforms but for very different reasons. All of the zoom controls above the zoom preset buttons in the edit window can be clicked and dragged for continuously variable zoom but the question I get asked most often about waveform zoom is how to return the zoom level to its default. It can be done in two ways: Double-click the zoom tool or CMD+Opt+Ctrl+[. If you want to zoom an individual track’s waveform check out this community tip.
5 Shortcuts To Know
I’ve used just 5 shortcuts as a “survival kit” for Pro Tools which, if you know no other shortcuts at all will save you time every time you use Pro Tools. Of the 5 shortcuts, 4 of them are zoom-related and 3 of them are already mentioned in this article. See the full post here.
Thats it for the A-Z Series. You never know, it might be back but for now, thank you to everyone who has supported it. I Hope you've enjoyed reading it as much as I've enjoyed writing it.