Bass Camp 021: Ableton Speed Hacks — Working faster using Ableton Keyboard Shortcuts

Bass Camp 021: Ableton Speed Hacks — Working faster using Ableton Keyboard Shortcuts

This week, I wanted to go through some of my favorite speed hacks inside Ableton. Some of these tricks and tips will seem insignificant on their own, but when you start to apply them all you will save hours and hours of time in the long run.




1. Keyboard shortcuts are king. Eliminating as much use of your mouse as possible when producing will not only be more enjoyable, but will allow you to focus mor on the creative aspect of things. I recommend you comb through the full official list of shortcuts, but here are some of my favorites:


  • Rename Channel/Clip: CMD + R  or  CTRL + R
  • Insert Blank MIDI Clip: CMD + Shift + M  or  CTRL + Shift + M
  • Unfold / Fold All Tracks: ALT + U
  • Group Selected Tracks: CMD + G  or  CTRL + G
  • Triplet Grid: CMD + 3  or  CTRL + 3
  • Snap/Don't Snap to Grid: CMD + 4  or  CTRL + 4
  • Settings: CMD + ,  or  CTRL + ,
  • Render: CMD + Shift + R  or  CTRL + Shift + R
  • Search All (Plugins, Samples, etc): CMD + F  or  CTRL + F

Working with Audio:

  • Reverse Audio Clip: R
  • Split Clip: CMD + E  or  CTRL + E
  • Duplicate: CMD + D  or  CTRL + D
  • Drag and Copy: ALT + Drag  or  CTRL + Drag
  • Deactivate Selected Clip:  0 (the zero key)
  • Bypass Snapping While Dragging: CMD  or  ALT
  • Warp by Dragging: CMD drag

Working in MIDI:

  • Quantize: CMD + U  or  CTRL + U
  • Quantize Settings: CMD + Shift + U  or  CTRL + Shift + U
  • Adjust Note Velocity: CMD drag  or  ALT drag
  • Drag and Copy: ALT + Drag  or  CTRL + Drag
  • Bypass Snapping While Dragging: CMD  or  ALT


2. Creating Custom Keyboard Shortcuts

Ableton provides a plethora of keyboard shortcuts for nearly all its functionality, but there are some things, like Freezing and Flattening channels, that don't.

If you are on a Mac, it's quite simple to add shortcuts for most things by doing this:

a. First, navigate to System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Shortcuts and select App Shortcuts from the box on the lefthand side.

b. Next, click the + icon and select Ableton (if you have multiple versions, make sure you select the one you use).

For Menu Title, enter the EXACT menu action (ie: "Freeze Track").

For Keyboard Shortcut, select the box and then press the keys you wish to make your shortcut.

c. Finally, click Add and you should be good!

To double check, go into Ableton and navigate to the menu item you created the shortcut for. It should show your new shortcut to the right.


    For Windows users, there's a ton of options for this so a quick Google should find you the right solution for your OS. 


    Keyboard shortcuts are only the tip of the iceberg for increasing your productivity inside Ableton, but I'm going to leave it at that today. I'll do a part 2 in the coming weeks covering more things like creating solid templates and more.