Window Management in Pro Tools 10

There's a lot more to window management than meets the eye. Scott Freiman, MPV Pro Tools Master Trainer, takes a look at how windows can be configured in Pro Tools for maximum benefit.  

Like most professional DAWs, Pro Tools provides a way to save and recall the layout of your workspace. But, there's a lot more that you can do with them other than recall a favorite window placement.  In this article, I'll discuss some of the ways you can use Window Configurations to improve your workflow. We'll also discuss how to combine Window Configurations and Memory Locations to determine what tracks appear in your windows. Furthermore, we'll explore how to recall AudioSuite plug-ins and import your favorite Window Configurations into a new session.

Creating Window Configurations

Creating a Window Configuration in Pro Tools is a two-step process.  Place your windows where you want them.  Then, choose Windows > Configurations > New Configuration.

Although there is no shortcut for adding a new Window Configuration, there is a shortcut for adding a Window Configuration with a specific number. Just type a period, the number, and the plus sign—all on your numeric keypad. For example, to add or replace configuration number 3, type “.3+”. If a Window Configuration already exists with that number, your new Configuration will replace the old one.

Creating Window configurations

In addition to entering a name for the Configuration and a comment, there are several other choices: First, you can choose to memorize the display settings of each of your windows by checking “Include Edit, Mix, Targeted MIDI Editor, Score Editor, and Transport Display Settings”. This will memorize the visible parts of your toolbar (i.e. MIDI controls, transport, etc.), the sections of your mixer (i.e. inserts, sends, etc.), and other settings for your windows.

As an alternative to memorizing all your windows, you can have a Window Configuration recall the settings for only one window by selecting the second radio button. For example, if you choose the second radio button and “Mix Window” from the drop down list, the configuration will memorize the settings of the mixer, including whether you have the mixer set to narrow or wide configuration, the sections of the mixer that are visible, and the width of the tracks and groups lists.

Now that you have created a Windows Configuration, how do you recall it? You can always get to it from the Window > Configurations menu, or you can choose it from the Window Configurations list (press Option-Command-J to display the list).  

But, there is a much easier way: Using the numeric keypad, press period, the number of the configuration, and the asterisk. So, to recall Window Configuration 3, press “.3*” on your numeric keypad.

Creating a Memory Location

Window Configurations are great for recalling the placement and layout of your windows. But, they won't help you if you want to show specific tracks. For this, you need Memory Locations.

You probably already use Memory Locations for markers to memorize a specific location or selection in your sequence. But, Memory Locations can also be used to recall other settings from your session. Simply hit the Enter key on your numeric keypad to create a new Memory Location.

(Incidentally, if you're getting the idea that a numeric keypad is essential to using Pro Tools, then you're correct. There are many shortcuts beyond the ones in this article that make use of the numeric keypad. Even if you are using Pro Tools on a laptop, it pays to get a standalone numeric keypad that you can attach with a USB cable.)

New Memory Location

Under the Time Properties, you can specify whether the Memory Location is a marker, a selection, or neither. What we're interested in is the General Properties section below. Here is where you can designate that a Memory Location recalls the current zoom settings, which tracks are displayed, track heights, and which groups are enabled. You can even recall a specific Window Configuration along with the Memory Location.  

And grab that numeric keypad again, because the shortcut to recall a Memory Location is period-{number}-period on the numeric keypad.  (So, “.3.” recalls Memory Location 3.) 

Putting It All Together

Let's create a Memory Location that is set up to show the MIDI editor with only my bass and piano tracks. First, I'll size my MIDI Editor the way I want it.  I'll also decide what components I want in my toolbar, and I'll show the track list so that I can add or remove specific tracks from my score window.

Score Window

Let's save this as Windows Configuration 11. Press “.11+” on my numeric keypad and fill out the dialog box. We're only going to save the layout of the MIDI Editor although we could also have saved the layout of all our windows.

New window configuration

Now, I'm going to hide all my tracks except the bass and piano. While I'm at it, I'll set my track heights and zoom levels in the Edit window. That way, the Edit window is configured the way I want when I toggle to it.

I'll save this as a Memory Location. Press Enter on the numeric keypad. Select None from the upper section. Then select Zoom Settings, Track Heights, and Track Show/Hide from the lower section. Finally, I'll check off Window Configuration and select the Window Configuration we just created. In my example, this is saved as Memory Location 1.

The Arrangement

Now, when I press “.1.” on my numeric keypad, the MIDI Editor displays with the layout I specified in my Windows Configuration and only the bass and piano showing.  

You can see how powerful the combination of Window Configurations and Memory Locations is. 

Recalling AudioSuite Plug-Ins

As part of your workflow, there may be certain AudioSuite plug-ins that you use to process your audio. For example, you may frequently apply a certain effect to your audio clips. Or you may want to use the same noise reduction settings to process different audio clips in your session. Using Window Configurations, we can instantly bring up our favorite AudioSuite plug-ins, including your favorite settings.

As an example: let's say that I am working on a film with lots of poorly recorded dialog. While auditioning the clips, I frequently find myself using EQ, a de-esser, and hum removal. Let's create a Windows Configuration to recall these plug-ins with settings intact.

I'll start by bringing up the three plug-ins. Note that a new feature of Pro Tools 10 is the ability to have multiple AudioSuite windows active at the same time. Just turn off the target button (the red button in the right hand corner) to prevent the window from going away when you bring up a new AudioSuite plug-in.

AudioSuite plugins

I've configured each plug-in with the settings I want to use. Now, I'll save these windows as a Window Configuration. Let's save it as Window Configuration 30. Just press “.30+” on the numeric keypad and fill out the dialog box.

Save as window configuration 30

Now, whenever I press “.30*” on the numeric keypad, my AudioSuite plug-ins pop-up with the right settings ready to be applied.  Cool, right?!?

Importing Window Configurations and Memory Locations

You've just finished a big session and defined lots of great Window Configurations and Memory Locations. In fact, you want to use the Window Configurations and Memory Locations in the next session you are working on. You could of course save your session as a template. Every time you open the template, your Window Configurations and Memory Locations would be there. But, what do you do if you already have a session created?

Fortunately, Pro Tools makes it easy to import Window Configurations and Memory Locations from another Pro Tools session. The key is the File > Import Session Data option.  (The shortcut for Import Session Data is Shift-Option-I.)

After you select Import Session Data from the File menu, select the Pro Tools sessions which contains the Memory Locations and/or Window Configurations that you want to copy into the new session.  Once you do, you are presented with the Import Session Data dialog box:

Import session data

The options that we are concerned with are Markers/Memory Locations and Window Configurations. Check one or both of them, select any other track data to import, and press OK. You will see that your Memory Locations and/or Window Configurations have been added to your new session.


I hope this article has given you an idea of the power of Window Configurations and Memory Locations. They are certainly one of my secrets to speeding around sessions and impressing my clients! 

Scott Freiman may be the only person to have sold out Carnegie Hall and been a Finalist for Ernst and Young's Entrepreneur of the Year. After completing his first act as the co-founder and CEO of Credit Management Solutions, one of the earliest e-business successes, Mr. Freiman embarked on a second career as a composer, sound designer... Read More


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