Every once in a while someone will alert me to a YouTube video and say, “Hey Jay, check out Famous Producer X working with Famous Artist X in Logic Pro.” Almost invariably, I want to smash the computer screen because while they may be really talented, their workflow is so inefficient!
Here are some tips to prevent this from happening to you.
1. Explore the Key Commands
My motto is pretty much “Never do with mouse dragging with what you can do with a keystroke.”
Here is an example. Let us say I want to do some offline automation on a region. I need some Control Points and clicking them in with a mouse is not a fast or efficient way to do it. So I open my key commands and search for “automation.”
Well, look at this.
I press Command-A to select them all and then Control-Command 2 and now I have a big head start.
2. Use Multiple MIDI Editors
Most Logic users live totally in the Piano Roll Editor and if you are visually oriented, you can - but if you really want to control your MIDI data, use it in tandem with the Event List, which is the only MIDI editor that allows you to quickly see MIDI events down to the tick and quickly filter in and out certain kinds.
Personally, I also use the Score Editor with the Event List and the Piano Roll editor in Screensets on my second monitor. Oh, yeah about Screensets and second monitors...
Yes Virginia, you can essentially do everything in just the Main Window, but no Virginia, not optimally. Try seeing all this in just the Main Window!
Multiple Mixer views? Why not.
4. Add A Second Monitor
This is especially true if you use a laptop. It is my opinion that if you are a DAW user and you have been a very bad person, you spend eternity trying to create computer-based music on just a laptop screen.
Monitors, even decent good sized ones, are cheap. Screen real estate is a big deal. I added a 32” Ultra HD 4 K TV for a little over $300 to my 27’ iMac and it has made a world of difference in what I can see at one time.
5. Choose Your Command-Click Tool Wisely
This is of course the tool your primary (left-click) tool (the Pointer by default) changes to when you hold down the Command key. The Piano Roll defaults to the Pencil Tool, but I much more often want it to be the Velocity tool, so I change it to that.
In the Score Editor, it also defaults to the Pencil tool but I find the Layout tool far more helpful for score prep.
Remember to lock your Screensets after you change them however or they may not be remembered.
6. Learn To Navigate Your Project Efficiently
Dragging the Playhead around or clicking in the bar ruler will get the job done but it is imprecise and tedious. Ditto for me at least the Control Bar’s tape recorder-like transport buttons. Logic Pro X gives you many better ways.
1. Create markers and use the key commands to go to next marker, previous marker, or a specific marker by number. The beauty of this additionally is if you create them in your templates, they can easily be moved around, renamed and resized. Give them different colors to make them pop.
2. The Go To Position key command, my personal favorite. Simply press the forward slash next to the right shift key, type in the position number in either bars, beats, etc. or SMPTE time and the Playhead advances. It remembers your last entry too.
3. And of course, key commands. Some are already assigned, while others are waiting for you to assign them.
7. Use The Marquee Tool For The Many Things It Can Do
The Marquee tool is incredibly versatile. That is why it defaults to the Command-click tool in the Main Window and yet a lot of people barely scratch the surface with it.
Amongst other things you can:
- Command-click hold for a second on a track and it will leave a solid line, you can then use the 'play from selection' to play from that point.
- Command-click drag a selection on a track and then use the 'set locators by selection' key command.
- Command-click hold for a second on a track and it will leave a solid line, you can then use the 'transient' key commands.
- Command-click drag a selection on a track and then drag the selection to a new track from comping or whatever.
- Command-click drag a selection on a track and then use the 'zoom to fit selection' key command.
- Copy automation form one region to another by dragging over the automation with the Marquee tool pressing Command-c to copy, and then choosing the other region and pressing Command-v to paste.
Open the Event Float when you do not have room for a full Event List in tandem with the Piano Roll or Score editors to see a MIDI event at the tick level.
Use the key command for Move Region/Event to Playhead Position. (This used to be named Pickup Clock.) It defaults to the semi-colon.
Use the key command for Paste at Original Position. This works in various editors but is especially helpful when e.g. copying dynamic markings from one part to another in the Score Editor. Also its cousin, Paste Multiple at Original Position, is huge in the Score Editor but it is unassigned by default.
Copy and paste channel strip settings in the mixer with key commands. Here you see the defaults.
I could go on forever. The point is that many, perhaps most, users simply drag their mouse all around their monitors and are wasting time, effort, and possibly risking carpal tunnel syndrome instead of getting under the hood and trying to find more efficient ways to work. Who knows, you may find some I have not yet thought of.