Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Get to know your Toolbox...

Off and running with the first tip, and this one is about the various ways of using your Toolbox in Logic.

Now normally, Logic displays its toolbox in the parameters area of the arrange window, but having to continually move your mouse over to the toolbox and then back over to your regions gets old really fast. There has to be something better - and there is!

Pressing the "ESC" key brings up a little floating toolbox right underneath your mouse pointer, where you can select a tool directly. Once you select a tool, the toolbox closes again automatically, or you can just press the escape key again to close it. The exact tools displayed will vary depending on what window you are working in, as different windows offer different tools - here we see the normal arrange window toolbox.

ESC (with the toolbox closed) = Opens the floating toolbox
ESC (with the toolbox open) = Closes the floating toolbox

A couple of things to note with this floating toolbox.

If you are currently using any tool other than the first tool, the selection arrow, pressing "ESC" twice (effectively opening and then closing the floating toolbox) will quickly reset the mouse back to the arrow, rather than you having to select the arrow tool after your edit operation.

ESC then ESC = Resets the mouse back to the arrow (selection) pointer

Secondly, with the toolbox open, there are a number of key commands to select tools from the keyboard, without having to select them with the mouse. Pressing the number keys on your keyboard will select the corresponding tools - so to select the pencil tool, we'd hit "ESC" to open the toolbox, and press "2" to select the second tool along, the pencil tool.

ESC then 1 = Select the first tool in the toolbox
ESC then 2 = Select the second tool in the toolbox
ESC then 3 = Select the third tool in the toolbox
...and so on.

As you get used to what tools are on what keys, it becomes lighting quick to switch tools in Logic.

Like most things in Logic, there are a whole raft of toolbox commands that you can map your own keyboard too - let's open the Logic -> Preferences -> Key Commands window, and type "tool" in the search window:

You can also assign MIDI commands to each of those too, so you could set up some spare buttons on your remote MIDI controller to switch between tools, if you wanted to.

Lastly, and possibly the most useful of all the tips, is that you actually have not one, but *three* assignable tools that you can use at one time. If you find yourself constantly switching between the arrow and the scissors tool while editing, for example, this one will save you a *lot* of time.

Normally, you select a tool from the toolbox with the left mouse button. However, if you select a tool with the *right* mouse button, the tool will get assigned to the right mouse button. This means that you can have two different tools on the left and right mouse buttons - great! We can have our default arrow tool on the left, and our scissors tool when you use the right button.

But I said we could use *three* tools at once - so where's the other one? If you COMMAND-left click on a tool, you can assign a third tool. Now when you hold the command key, the mouse will change to represent whatever tool you assigned to the command key, and using the left button with the command key held uses that tool.

LEFT-click on a tool = Assign that tool to the left mouse button
RIGHT-click on a tool = Assign that tool to the right mouse button
COMMAND + LEFT-click on a tool = Assign that tool to the command + left button

So when I'm doing vocal comps, what I tend to do is have the arrow select tool on the left button, the mute tool on the right mouse button, and the scissors tool on the command key, which lets me do quick and sophisticated editing without having to use the toolbox all the time.

Further reading: Logic Pro 7 Reference Manual - page 16-20


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