The User Interface of Pro Tools 11

   By Lisa F   Categories: Audio SoftwareGeneral

Pro Tools 11 continues to offer the same user interface that was introduced with Pro Tools 8 and developed through versions 9 and 10. There have been some changes and improvements, and the terminology has now been standardized to fall more in line with the terminology used with Avid’s Media Composer, so ‘regions’ have become ‘clips’, for instance, and some keyboard commands have been added or changed. The good thing about this is that anyone upgrading from versions 8, 9, or 10, will have very little difficulty in making this transition.

Setting the Color Palette

The Color Palette, available from the Window menu, lets you make colour selections for tracks, clips, groups, and markers. It also lets you apply colours to channel strips in the Mix and Edit windows, and lets you adjust the saturation and brightness of the colours to emulate the way that other popular user interfaces look.

Managing Your Window Configurations

Pro Tools lets you save your current arrangement of windows onscreen as a ‘Window Configuration’ that you can quickly recall at any time from the Window Configurations List – see Figure 2.23.

Figure 2.23: The Window Configurations List showing six saved configurations.

To open the Window Configurations List, you can either select this from the Configurations sub-menu in the Window menu, or press Command-Option (Mac) or Control-Alt (Windows) and the letter ‘j’ on your computer keyboard. Here you will see any Window Configurations that you have already created.

Only one Window Configuration containing a Window Layout can be active at any one time, and to indicate which of the configurations in the list is active, this will have a black dot to the left of its list number.

If you have created lots of window configurations, it can be difficult to find the one you want to recall quickly. To make this easier, you can filter out configurations that you are not interested in using the options in the Window Configurations List pop-up menu (see Figure 2.24) – or by clicking on the View Filter icons in the Window Configurations List.

Using either of these methods, you can show or hide Window Configurations based on whether or not they are stored with Window Layout, Edit Window settings, Mix Window settings, Score Editor, and Transport or Targeted MIDI Editor Window settings.

Figure 2.24: Window Configurations List window showing pop-up menu with view filter options.

If you want to change the way you have configured one of your window configurations, just select this, make your changes, and then choose the Update ‘configuration name’ command from the Window Configurations List pop-up menu – see Figure 2.25.

Figure 2.25: Auto-Update Active Configuration option in the Configurations sub-menu.


I find myself mostly working within one ‘normal’ layout that shows both the Edit and Mix windows. However, as I add tracks to the mixer and adjust the size of the Mix window and change settings in the Edit window, I usually want to retain these new layouts and settings. The best way to do this is to enable ‘Auto-Update Active Configuration in the Window Configurations sub-menu’.

Creating Window Configurations

Why would you want to use different window configurations? Well, for example, maybe you want to close the Mix and Edit windows when you are editing Score and MIDI data so that you can focus on using just these windows. All you need to do is to close the windows that you don’t want included and open the ones you do want, positioning these wherever you like onscreen – see Figure 2.26 for an example.

Figure 2.26: Score & MIDI Editing window configuration.

To create the configuration, choose ‘New Configuration’ from the pop-up menu available at the right of the Window Configurations List. In the New Window Configuration dialog that appears, (see Figure 2.27), you can name your configuration then click ‘OK’ to save it.

Figure 2.27: Creating a new window configuration.

If you enable the Window Layout button, the size and location of all the open windows will be stored with the Window Configuration. A checkbox below this lets you optionally include all the window display settings (such as whether the Clip List is shown in the Edit window) for the Edit, Mix, Targeted MIDI Editor, Score Editor, and Transport Display.

You can store and recall up to 99 window configurations along with other settings such as the Zoom Toggle preferences, the track heights, and the internal window configurations of the main windows.


The Window Configuration memory slot numbers can be used to quickly recall individual configurations: using the numeric keypad on your computer’s keyboard, press Period (.) first; release this then press the number of the Window Configuration; release this then press the Asterisk (*). This series of actions will recall the Window Configuration stored in that slot.

Window configurations are particularly useful when you have limited screen space, so I always create a compact layout containing the Edit and Mix windows when I am using a laptop, for example.

Excerpt from Pro Tools 11: Music Production, Recording, Editing, and Mixing by Mike Collins © 2013 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved.


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