How To Make Ableton Live's Browser More Efficient & Effective

If you thought you knew the best ways to use Ableton Live's browser, you might be missing something. You can find out here in this useful tutorial on Ableton's browser by GW Childs.  

Ableton 9 has been out for a few years, and we’ve all gotten pretty comfy. So comfy, in fact, that we could all use a little Ableton Browser Spring Cleaning. But, also, maybe a few new ways to make the Browser even more efficient for live performance, producing and just being a more productive artist! In this article, I’d like to cover a few ways to assist yourself in optimizing that Browser! 

What Do You Need? 

First, before going too far, we might as well go ahead and deal with the easiest part—What we don’t need! Throughout the years, and several projects, a lot of random files can build up within the Places section of the Browser. And, if you can’t, with utmost confidence, vouch for each file listed therein, then it probably doesn’t need to be there, anyway.  

To remove locations from the Places section of the Browser, right-click on the location in question and select Remove From Sidebar. Note: Nothing will happen to this on your computer! You just remove the reference from the Live Browser, period.  

Now, you may be wondering, “Hey, how do I know if I should get rid of this?” And this is a real question to consider. So, if you aren’t sure, go ahead and use the Show in Finder selection, from the right-click contextual menu. This will reveal the folder location in the Finder. All you have to do is open the folder, look inside, and see if this is something that you’ll ever want quick access to, again.

If the answer is no, let it go!  


Now, this is where we can bring in another technology into our music technology. Reframing is a method from neuro-linguistic programming for seeing something in a new light, or with a new, or heightened perception. Let me explain. 

We are going to eventually run into Places within the Live Browser that do contain things like audio loops, patches, MIDI Loops, and so on that we do use all the time. However, these folder names tend to reflect the contents as they were created by either third-party sound designers, developers, and so on. And, of course, we don’t want to lose these! I know I have several folders of awesome third-party loop companies, sample packs and so on that I always want access to. And, if you’re a DJ, then you have hundreds of folders of MP3s, am I right?

Once the Finder has exposed the folder responsible for the Places link, within the Live Browser, you now have ability to change the folder’s actual name. This is where the concept of a reframe comes into play.

Simply seeing a folder in the Browser named wa_modern_guitar_tools doesn’t necessarily appear to my eyes as that interesting of a location.  


The underscores and the abbreviations seem less inviting, and warm, to me. But, if I were to change the name to ‘Pop Guitars’… Well, that sounds like something I would gravitate to a little more. And, by changing the name, I’m reframing the way that I think about this particular sample pack. It now stands out more in the Browser, and appears as more of a tool, available for easy access. 

Note: If you change the name of a folder in the Finder that is referenced as a Place, within the Live Browser, this will not be updated on Live’s end. So, when you go to click that old Place, you’ll notice the name is still the same. But now, when you click on it, the old link goes nowhere. Make sure you delete these, lest you give yourself more confusion. And, don’t forget to drag the new Place, into the Browser. In my case, Pop Guitars!

Granted, I want to honor my licensing agreement, when I purchased the sample pack, and give Wave Alchemy credit, where credit should be given in liner notes, etc. And that’s why I enjoy buying from companies like Wave Alchemy, as they actually give you all of that info within the root directory, within a PDF file. You aren’t having to search around, hurriedly, around the time of your album release! 

And, by including these docs, it clears you from any guilt about giving your folder a name that suits your own purpose, like ‘Pop Guitars’. And, if you ever have any questions, just choose ‘Reveal In Finder’, and locate the additional information for your record keeping, and legal concerns.  


Now, if I open up my Pop Guitars directory, you’ll notice that Wave Alchemy has actually broken down a lot of the types of guitars that exist within the Modern Guitars sample library by various descriptions. 

I can also decide that I’d like to have access to some of those more specific guitar types. For example, maybe I’d like a direct link to the Distorted directory within my Places area of the Browser in Live, as I really use it a lot. Notice, I can drag this directory over into the Places area of the Browser as well; even though it’s already residing within the subdirectory of another Place.  

By being able to create different Places from the Sub-Directories of larger sample packs, MIDI packs, or sounds, it’s actually possible to really tailor those Places to specific needs, rather than having to jump in and wade through an entire library of samples. I can elect to add possibly a few more guitar types from Wave Alchemy. And, while I’m at it, create a Place specifically for Kick Drums, from my Rhythm Wolf Sample pack that I use all the time. Ultimately, I can really make the Browser a true palette of sonic color for music creation.


Ableton 9, for me, still holds up as the ultimate music making tool. And, while there are so many features that make the Browser that central show case and method of interacting with your music, it’s flexibility in customization, and speed in getting you to your Plugs, Effects and Places that make it perfect for all sorts of occasions.

Learn all about Ableton Live here.



Sound Designer, Musician, Author... G.W. Childs has worn many hats. Beginning in the U.S. Army back in 1991, at the age of 18, G.W. began learning electronics, communications and then ultimately audio and video editing from the Department of Defense. Upon leaving the military G.W. went on to work for many exciting companies like Lu... Read More


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