Getting to where you want to go is an art form in Logic. There are so many ways to navigate the timeline, that the options can be paralyzing. Here I’ll look at some of my favourite ways of moving the playhead around Logic, without touching the mouse.
Going backwards and forwards either one bar or eight bars at a time is the easiest way to navigate relatively small projects. The period and comma keys, by default, move the playhead forward and back by one bar at a time. Add the shift key to these, and the play head moves in eight-bar increments.
Greater flexibility and accuracy is available; however, with some of the non-linear based “go-to” key commands. The central power user command for pinpoint locating is to use the Go To Position command. Go To Position is invoked, by default, with the backslash key on the central part of the qwerty keyboard. It brings up a window where you can type in a precise locate position. Use the Tab key to move between the bar/beat/ticks and smpte time fields. Use a simple tap on the space bar to move between the different divisions as you type in the values in either of the respective boxes. Press either Return or Enter to dismiss the window, and your playhead will relocate to the precise position you have typed in.
Getting the playhead to jump to selections is another excellent non-linear method of locating within Logic. Select a region (or multiple regions) and use the Go To Selection Start or Go To Selection End commands to position the play head at either the beginning or end of the region boundary. Start and end positions are particularly useful with audio regions, whose boundaries may not conform to exact bar or beat divisions. These two key commands also work for marquee selections or selected notes in the MIDI editors. Their default assignments are Control + Home key, and Control + End Key.
Going to marker locations are a useful way of navigating to musically relevant positions in your timeline. Two key commands that I frequently use, related to the forward/backward key commands I mentioned at the top of this article, are Option + period and Option + comma. These key commands serve double duty. They will position the playhead at the start of either the next or previous marker, and will also set the cycle length to correspond with the marker length. These are great functions for those times when you want to focus on one section of a song at a time, maybe for mixing, or editing, or even writing. There are also dedicated commands to jump to specific marker numbers other than the one before or one after. In long projects, these are very useful.
Giving you too many options might be paralyzing. Best to learn a few that are relevant for you, and get them ingrained in your muscle memory. I’m going to leave you with one more, not often used command, that I particularly find very useful. Play From Left Window Edge. It is technically a playback command rather than a Go-To Command. It precedes playback though by “going to” the leftmost position in your window. So, in other words, it will go to and start playback from the leftmost visible area on your screen. I like to think of this as a kind of “pre-roll” function. Often I am working on something in the middle of the screen, and then want to hear it back in its musical context from a few bars before. Depending on the zoom level I am working at, this usually gives me just that - playback from a few (or several) bars earlier.
Granted there are boatloads more Go To commands available. However, these are the ones I find most useful in my workflow when working in the Tracks Area or MIDI Editors. Other, more context-specific functions, are available in the Audio File Editor. Hopefully, some of these will get you started thinking about how you can speed up your navigation.