In part 23 of his "A to Z" series of Logic Pro X tutorials, Eli Krantzberg guides you through a few window management workflows that can help make the best of a less than ideal situation when you need to move between different views in Logic Pro X.
Logic Pro from A to Z - W is for Windows
When you are working with Logic Pro X on either a laptop or a computer with a small monitor, screen real estate is at a premium. There are a few window management workflows that can help make the best of a less than ideal situation when you need to move between different views. Here I’ll share some ideas on how to optimize the experience.
What confuses a lot of Logic Pro users is the difference between “Showing” vs “Opening” different views. Showing a View in Logic Pro means opening a docked window that is anchored to the Main Window either at the bottom or on the right side. This usually works pretty well, but on small monitors can lead to a cluttered workspace with little room to select or edit what you need.
Well, there is another way to manage windows on a small monitor that, at first glance seems even more cluttered, but can actually be more efficient. It involves opening multiple independent windows.
Multiple Independent Windows
Why would you want to open independent windows on a small screen you ask? Their title bars alone take up valuable space, thus reducing the useable area. However, when combined with a couple of useful key commands, they can actually be way more efficient. Below is an image of a small screen set containing five independent windows. It is even more cluttered and at first glance seems even less useable than the previous scenario.
When you look at the title bar in the Piano Roll Window at the upper right, you can see that it is darker than the other four. This is the active window. Only one window can be active, or highlighted, at any given time. This is the window that will respond to key strokes and key commands. Global key commands however function regardless of which window is “on top”. Use the Global key command “Cycle Through Windows” to move through the open windows and ultimately choose which is the active window. The default key command assignment is Command + the tilde key (the squiggly line) at the upper left of your keyboard; right underneath the escape key.
While moving through the active windows with this key command is fine, it is just the first of the one - two key combination you need to make this work. Once you have the window that you want to work in selected / highlighted, immediately use the key command for Zoom Window. It is unassigned by default. I use Option + Control + Shift + Z. You may want to choose something simpler in a laptop. Option + Z is a good choice, as it is unassigned by default.
When you invoke this second key command, it immediately resizes the active window to take up all the available screen space, giving you ample room for detailed editing. When done, use the same key command to snap it back down to it’s previous size. So, at any given moment you can be working with a single window zoomed to full size. And you never more than a single keystroke away form your overview of multiple small windows. Simply cycle through and zoom in/out as needed on the individual editors. It takes a few minutes to get used to, but once the muscle memory is learned, you’ll be zooming in and out of multiple windows in no time.
Window Views that are “shown” instead of opened independently are not quite the same. The Tab key is reserved for cycling through them. Shift + Tab is used to cycle backwards. There is a blue halo around the active window, indicating which one has “focus” at any given time. This is great for moving around which window is on top and will react to incoming key commands. But there doesn’t seem to be any way of zooming or maximizing any of the individual views, other than by dragging and resizing with the mouse. Double clicking the editor type highlighted in the divider pane will close the anchored editor. And double clicking a region will re-open the editing view. But as far as zooming the individual editors, independent windows and the two key commands described above seems to be the better way to go.
Since we can never have enough screen real estate, why not try it on larger monitors too?