Live beginners, want to graduate to Live ninja? Sample pack maker Infrasonik has posted a video that walks you through a number of shortcuts for Ableton’s software. (Via wire to the ear and Synthtopia; I agree with Synthtopia that the narration is a bit cheesy at moments, but yes, it’s still quite useful to have!)

I do find that video, while friendly, can be the least efficient way of getting at information. So here are the shortcuts in text form. These were also in Mac form, so I’ve provided Windows “translation”:

  • Option-F11 (PC: F11 alone): Full screen mode
  • Option-Cmd-B (PC: Ctrl-Alt-B): Open/close browser (and arrow keys scroll).
  • Shift-TAB (PC: TAB alone): Switches between Arrange View and Session View (the linear track view and live performance-oriented clip view, respectively).
  • Shift-SPACE: Starts/stops playback at the current playhead position; i.e., it’s a pause function. (SPACE alone starts at the beginning of the song.)
  • Cmd-1,2,3,4 (PC: Ctrl-1,2,3,4): Adjusts the active quantization grid in current clips while editing. This one is really essential, of course.
  • Cmd-arrow keys (PC: Ctrl-1,2,3,4): Controls Loop Region length. This really speeds up editing in a big way. Up/down uses a large increment (doubling/halving), whereas the right and left arrow keys use a small increment.
  • Cmd-D (PC: Ctrl-D): Duplicate (and it duplicates everything, so it’s handy in Session View)
  • Cmd-I (PC: Ctrl-I): Insert silence
  • Cmd-B (PC: Ctrl-B): Draw Mode – essential for being able to switch between drawing and selection in clip piano roll, envelopes, etc.
  • Shift-Cmd-I (PC: Ctrl-Cmd-I): Capture and Insert Scene. This cleans up your set by taking combinations and automatically inserting them in scenes.

(Okay, yeah, I sometimes call it the “Apple” key, but technically, that hasn’t been its name since the Apple II. Really. The sound of “open Apple – X” still makes me sigh with nostalgia, though.)

If you want all the keyboard shortcuts in Live, they’re in the Live manual. Choose Help > Read the Live Manual… and you’ll find it as the last chapter, chapter 28. But Infrasonik did a terrific job of picking out all the best ones, including some that even us old-hat Live users might have forgotten. (Yeah, I’ll admit is. I didn’t know about Capture and Insert Scene.)

Show those Canadian gurus some love:


More Live Tutorials

Still want more Ableton Live knowledge? Oliver Chessler at Wire to the Ear has thoughtfully assembled a YouTube playlist of helpful Live tutorials. You may have seen some before, but it’s nice to have them all in one place. Because it’s a playlist, you can just scroll through via the player below. Enjoy:

And for still more Live wisdom, Ableton just posted an interview with Hot Chip in which they talk about how they use the tool. (Via Sonic State.)

  • Josh

    Cool! A correction though – shift + tab switches between clip view and your effects rack; tab by itself switches between session and arrangement view. At least, that's how it is in Live 6.

  • Bjorn

    Just a small question about videos being the most inefficient way to get information: Why?

    Is it a general thing? Does this apply to narrated videos or video tutorials in general?

  • gbsr

    this guy has a few tutorials aswell:

    im curious, since you (peter) obviously think its a good idea to collect tutorials in a playlist like this guy did, then why dont make a playlist with the videos that you have collected on ableton live? write it up on the blog, and let people leave links to more tutorials in the comments and then post the result here. im sure alot of people would appreciate it.

  • @Bjorn: I'm not bashing video, I love video. But generally, you can read something faster than you can watch it. There are exceptions to that, in which showing something can be faster than writing about it. ("can be" being the critical words.) I've been very aware of this, though, as I've been digging through PSP hacking instructions for another story. I wind up having to scroll through the video looking for the information to avoid sitting and watching ten minutes of it, etc.

    I think the best thing is to have a balance, use them where appropriate. You'll see CDM using more video in the coming months, so I'll have to put my money where my mouth is.

    @gsbr – But yeah, I do really like the video idea — and a playlist is great. I'll get on it. πŸ™‚

  • godprobe

    Last time I downloaded the manual (almost a year ago, admittedly), not all of the available shortcuts are in there.

    For example, on a PC, F12 (in addition to Shift-Tab, which is in the manual) toggles between waveform and FX views

    Also, Alt-arrow keys (again, PC… not sure for Mac… and not in the manual AFAIK) will navigate around the different Ableton window areas.

    Been a while since I've been on Ableton, so I'm not sure if this is accurate for the new version or if the manual has been updated.


    video link is much appreciated! The reason I was originally researching all the keys to use in Ableton was to make a bunch of stickers to put all over my keyboard. Problem is, so many of the key combinations have multiple functions, depending on what modifier keys (Option/Command/Control/Alt/Shift) are pressed, and depending on which view you're in.

    Unused keys (PC) as far as I know, for v6 of Live…

    Print Screen

    Scroll Lock



    Backspace (unless it's the same function as Delete)







    Caps Lock



  • Great video.

    Live's shortcuts should be faster , some of them are 3 Keys , Blender the 3D program has most of their shortcuts as one single and fast key.

    This really makes a differece , three keys pressed means three times slower.

    The only other thin i dont like about live appart from the Piano roll ( as i come from FLstudio) is that is not fully modular , we should be able to tweak any aspect of the software , make our own strange avant garde setp sequencers , fx and actions , macros , conditions or just anything.

    Anyway the video , really usefull .

    peace , thanx CDM ;D

  • gbsr

    well. alt (on pc then) left/right navigates from browser, to sessionview, to the master track and back again (going right then, obviously).

    so if you enter your browser, pushing alt+left will move the cursor not only to sessionview, but more importantly to the previous selected clip you had in your sessionview, making it perfect for macro scripting such as opening the browser, selecting a clip and replacing the previous clip with the one selected in the browser. excellent.

    @Peter: looking forward to it. a suggestion to this could be 3 categories: novice, intermediate and advanced, novice beeing the basics, intermediate beeing some tips and tricks, such as the zett videos for using simpler to create glitches etc, processing sounds and routing capabilities, and advanced for using live with other applications (such as the video mixer posts youve made) or the littlescale maxmsp patch madness: