5 Tips for a faster Cubase workflow. Spoiler: its all about the keyboard!

Recently I switched from Logic Pro X to Cubase Pro 8, and immediately saw my productivity cut in half. The reason? The loss of familiar keyboard shortcuts.

After working with Live and Logic for a few years I had gotten really comfortable not using the mouse to click around the UI, but after switching to Cubase suddenly all that convenience was gone.

Here’a a list of 5 immediate shortcut tips that will speed up your workflow if you find yourself in the same situation.

1. Find the key commands for zooming in and out in the project window

In Cubase this means G and H for zooming in and out horizontally and Shift+G, Shift+H for vertical zoom. Also, try Shift+F for setting the zoom to show the entire project. The same shortcuts also work in the MIDI piano roll.

2. Switch editing tools via the keyboard and not through the UI

By default, Cubase Pro 8.5 has the Select, Draw, Erase and so on set to keys 1-8. Only problem is they are not mapped in the order the Tools are shown int he UI toolbar. Using the Key Commands editor in the file menu you can change this to map to the UI.

Another useful tip is that you can hold down the Option key in the MIDI piano roll to momentarily switch to the Draw tool, making it faster to switch between drawing in notes and editing them.

3. Learn the shortcuts for transport commands

IMG_448732073Cubase has play start/stop mapped to the space bar, but there are a ton of other shortcuts to speed up your flow. Some of my favourites include Num1 to set the loop range to the current selection, Num/ to enable or disable loop playback and Num.  to return to 1.1.1.0.

As you can see the transport controls are usually mapped to the Numeric keyboard, so I got a USB 10 key from Goldtouch hooked up as a poor man’s DAW control surface. Highly recommended.

4. Learn to show / hide and switch between windows

In Live you have the Session vs. Arrangement view, in Logic the Mixer and Project windows, but Cubase probably has the most flexible windows management of all the DAWs I’ve tried.

The Media Bay (F5), Mixer (F3) and Transport panel (F2) are all mapped to the function keys, but you should also consider mapping the Key Editor to one of the F Keys.

5. Add, remove and toggle track configurations

You can use the arrow keys to navigate up, down and across the events and tracks in your project. When a track has focus, M and S will mute and solo respectively. Combine with the loop transport controls for easy playback focus and control.

You should also configure shortcuts for adding and deleting tracks, as well as hiding and showing them again. I have + mapped to insert a new Instrument track, and Numeric Clear mapped to removing the selected track.

Hopefully these tips will speed up your workflow and let you navigate Cubase faster. Do you have any other shortcuts that you can’t live without? Share them in the comments!

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