Ableton Live gets a little help from a Tonearm. (Photo: lowfatbrains.)

My friend Ilia, aka Tonearm, has released his set of Windows XP-compatible shortcuts for Ableton Live. (Got to play out with Ilia last month and hope to do it again.) Ableton, if you’re listening, here’s another argument for more customization of the program.

Even if you’re not on XP, it’s worth having a look and even downloading the ZIP and readme for some inspiration as far as what could be possible with Live shortcuts.

Install the executable for Windows, and you get:

Keyboard assignments, including lots of handy shortcuts for manipulating clips on the fly, adjusting envelopes — everything you ought to be able to do. That includes changing gain, transposition, and BPM on the go (the last being especially nice)

  • Single-key shortcuts: Those shortcuts can be manipulated with one key. Where a modifier is used, it’s “shift” — so you can use caps lock and get one-key access to those, as well.
  • Mouse wheel and power zoom: Mouse wheel actions are contextual, so you can quickly scroll through the browser, session, plug-ins, etc.
  • Faster navigation on the timeline: left, right, page up, page down and shuttle around your timeline, and you can nudge clips left and right using the keyboard. “Sticky-click” mode makes it easier to grab and manipulate selections on the timeline.
  • Automation shortcuts
  • Multiple takes
  • Instant samplers: Grab a clip or a section of a clip and with one shortcut create a MIDI track and Simpler with that sample.

Multiple takes, more flexible keyboard assignments, and more direct access to clips — Ilia’s implementation here is a bit idiosyncratic, and it only works on XP, but it definitely overlaps with some of my wishlist. Live 8, perhaps?

(Note: I disagree with Ilia about Live on Vista. I’ve found Live on Vista can work exactly like Live on XP; if your experience isn’t that under SP1, odds are poor drivers are the problem. Prior to the various hotfixes of the last year, rolled into SP1, that’s another story, though.)

Thanks to Ilia for sending this in, and Ronnie at Rekkerd for reminding me.

  • is it uninstallable?

  • Thanks for posting about this, Peter.

    There is no installation per se — you simply unzip a folder and run vitaminl.exe along with Live. If you want to stop using it, just quit Vitamin L (or you can temporarily suspend it by double-clicking the tray icon).

    See the detailed instructions at

  • ERS

    I never thought the day would come where I would be sad I was making music on a Mac instead of a PC, but the last couple of months of free PC software that has been on CDM almost has me there…

  • godprobe

    I've only gone through the first set of commands so far, but the Alt-# and Alt-F# functionality alone is one of the things I'd always wanted in Live. Die, mouse, die! 🙂

    I love the integrated help and the awesome integration and super-low visibility.

    Tried going through the Live manual once to pull out and comprehend all the shortcuts and label my keyboard appropriately but so much of it is context-sensitive and there are still other commands that aren't even documented… makes it tough.

  • ok i am really thick

    i've downloaded the vitimin l stuff and ran the exe and the little L is in the corner – then i open live 7

    and nothing happens

    do i need something else installed?

    or just dont i get it 😐

  • hmmm. are you saying that the shortcuts don't work for you?

  • yeah

    i think i know what it is

    i use a laptop with 2 monitors – and my second monitor (not the laptop one) is my primary display as its alot bigger..

    cause of this i use a usb keyboard connected to my lappy .. i think it is this – as when i use the keyboard on the laptop those shortcuts seem to work

  • ok it is me being thick

    it all seems to work now

    (tho i cant see anythin new happenin with the mouse wheel)

    i think i was expectin to see new context menus and stuff to appear when i right click

    but yah

    this is cool anyway – nice one 🙂

  • mouse wheel should zoom in/out or scroll through tracks, etc. — depending on the context. I am monitoring this thread on Ableton forums —… if you want to report bugs, etc.

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  • axiom

    just been moving over from cubase sx 3 to live and it was one of the features i couldnt believe hadnt been implemented into live…glad this solves the problem

  • SpacemanT


    Zoom works with mouse scroll…..awesome.

    many thanks

  • phil

    hey thanks for designing this reasonable(!) little helper