In this article we are going to be looking into the options available within the Display tab of the Pro Tools preferences.
Pro Tools offers a great range of features and tweaks within its preferences, with enough attention, these little changes can become as useful to your mix as shortcuts. If you’re tired of always having to set a zoom depth or change your track colours, then spend a little time setting your defaults and as we always say, spend the time mixing and working on your session, rather than wasting it on tweaks that could have been set from the beginning.
We will eventually be covering all of the panels within the preferences dialog window, but for this article, Display options.
Opening and Working With Preferences
First things first, to open the preferences dialog simply navigate to Setup > Preferences as shown below.
Note: any changes and tweaks made in the preferences window will only take effect after clicking ‘ok’ at the bottom of the window.
Track Position Numbers Stay With Hidden Tracks
When this option is left unchecked numbers are only assigned to tracks that are visible within your session, these tracks are numbered sequentially while the hidden tracks are left un-numbered. By checking this box, the hidden tracks keep their numbers.
Brought to us way back in Pro Tools 7, tool tips give us a more descriptive look at something when we hover our cursor over it, in the form of a descriptive box.
Function Tool Tip
Checking this configures tool tip to show the basic function of what it is your are hovered over.
Details Tool Tip
When ‘details’ is checked, Pro Tools will show the complete title of something that is abbreviated when you hover the cursor over it. This works well for things like track names, input/output titles and parameters that have been cut short due to space on screen.
Edit Window Default Length
This option allows you to set a default edit window length in hours, minutes, seconds (and frames if you are running Pro Tools HD). The maximum value you can set is 24 hours, if you really need that much! As a rough reference, it is usually best to try and set this to a couple of minutes longer than your total session or song length to ensure you can see everything with a little extra space either side just in case.
Organise Plug-In Menus By:
Pretty self explanitory in what this option does, it simply allows you to organise your plug-ins by one of the following.
Flat List produces a single long list of everything, this is a bit messy in my opinion unless you are someone who only runs very few plug-ins on your system.
Category will organise your plug-ins into categories such as Dynamics, Delay, and EQ, this is option I use in all of my sessions, not that I have hundreds of plug-ins, but when I do go hunting, I usually know the kind of effect I’m looking for, so this works as the most efficient choice for me, each to their own of course!
Manufacturer organises your plug-ins by…..yep you guessed it, the company that created them.
Category and Manufacturer will organise your plug-ins using a two-level menu. The top menu displays them by category (EQ, Dynamics…), the next menu within this will display the manufacturers.
Auto-Switch Input Language
When left unchecked, any text entered within a session will be entered in English regardless of the users operating system input language. By checking this box you ensure that the input language is automatically switched from English to whichever language is set on your operating system.
Warnings and Dialogs
Reset “Don’t Show This Again” Settings
There may be occasions within Pro Tools where an alert message is displayed, while some of these are useful, some are obvious and you are usually given the choice to stop them displaying each time. If you have set a message not to be displayed, you can use this button the reset the settings from which you will be prompted by them once again.
Show Quick Start Dialog When Pro Tools Starts
By default, Pro Tools will show the Quick Start dialog window when Pro Tools starts, if you are someone who tends to work more often on sessions that have already been created or set up, then you may wish for it not to, check this box and Pro Tools will open without it.
Always Display Marker Colors
When checked this option will allow you to choose marker colours in the markers ruler regardless of what is set in default clip colour coding.
MIDI Note Color Shows Velocity
If you are someone who works with virtual instruments and MIDI quite often like myself, this option is quite useful. When checked, this option will apply a varied colour shade to a MIDI note based on its velocity, notes with higher velocities will be darker, and lower velocities will show as a lighter colour.
Default Track Color Coding Options
Larger sessions can very much benefit from track colour coding, you have the option for example to set your drums to one colour, and vocal harmonies to another, just another way for you to navigate around your sessions quicker.
None: This turns off all colour assignments for tracks.
Tracks and MIDI Channels: This option will assign a colour to a track based on its MIDI channel or voice assignment.
Tracks and MIDI Devices: This option will assign a colour to tracks dependent on its voice or MIDI device assignment.
Groups: Colours are assigned to tracks based on their track grouping id which you can read more about here. It is worth noting that if a group is suspended the track colour bars will not be visible.
Track Type: Colours are assigned based on the kind of track, for example Audio, Video, Master Fader etc.
Default Clip Colour Coding
These options decide the colour coding of clips within Pro Tools. Just like the track colour coding above, we are offered a range of options. Including the options offered for tracks, there are also the following options:
Track Color: The color of the clip is based off the colour of its track.
Marker Locations: This option will assign a unique colour to each marker area within the marker ruler of a session.
Clip List Colour
: This option will assign a colour to each clip based on its colour in the clip list.
Preferences aren’t one of the most exciting things to get involved with when you’re eager to get on with your productions, but the benefits and time they can save you later on are undeniable! Take a little time now to browse through and make adjustments, and you will quickly notice these little things saving you time in your sessions.