There are many shortcuts in Ableton Live that can speed up your workflow and help you create solid music projects. Knowing these is a great way to increase your production skills while also making the most of this DAW.
I’m Donovan, a lifelong musician with over a decade of experience in the music business. I’ve built several home studios over the years and have used multiple DAWs, including Ableton Live. I know through first-hand experience how to use shortcuts.
This post will show you a large number of Ableton Live shortcuts. I’ll tell you the quick command for each shortcut and what it does. I aim to help streamline your workflow and give you the tools needed for excellent projects.
Let’s dive in.
- Why Use Shortcuts in Ableton Live?
- Different Shortcuts for Windows and macOS
- Ableton Live Shortcuts
- Session View Shortcuts
- Transport Shortcuts
- Comping Shortcuts
- Sample Editor Shortcuts
- Final Thoughts
Why Use Shortcuts in Ableton Live?
If you are new to Ableton Live or music production in general, you might wonder why you need to use shortcuts. If you’re a seasoned pro, you already know how beneficial they can be and are likely looking for more.
The biggest reason to use shortcuts in Ableton Live or any other DAW is because of how much time it can save you. Recording and production can be extremely time-consuming, so anything you can do to speed things up is always welcome.
The other significant advantage of shortcuts is that you can streamline and simplify your workflow while also customizing things to your liking. Every producer has a unique workflow, and using shortcuts within it will help you get everything dialed in.
When I was first learning how to use Ableton Live, I didn’t take advantage of any shortcuts. However, after a few months in the program, I started to unlock its real potential by memorizing and incorporating these into my projects.
For an extensive recording or production project, shortcuts easily save me an hour or more off the total time. This is extremely valuable in action, and as I learn more shortcuts, the benefits keep appearing.
Different Shortcuts for Windows and macOS
Before I dive into listing the shortcuts for Ableton Live, it’s important to note that some of them are slightly different depending on whether you have a Windows or Mac-based system.
The main difference is that you’ll press the Command key on macOS for many shortcuts and the CNTRL key on Windows. I’m a Mac user, so I’ll list things in that format below. Bust just adjust things to use CNTRL instead of Command if you use Windows.
If there is a difference other than that in the operating system-based shortcuts, I’ll let you know in the list.
Ableton Live Shortcuts
This is a fairly exhaustive list of all the Ableton Live shortcuts at your disposal within the DAW. You don’t necessarily need to memorize all of these, but learning the ones you expect to use the most is a good idea.
Also, save this post in your bookmarks or favorites to quickly reference it when needed. In my experience, having quick access to the shortcuts you don’t have memorized will save you tons of time.
I’ve arranged the shortcuts into various sections to help you navigate the list effectively. Scroll through the entire post, or just jump to the section you want to learn about.
These shortcuts help you navigate various screens and views within Ableton. They are often forgotten about but can come in really useful when you have a large project.
- Toggle Session/Arrangement View – Tab
- Toggle Full Screen Mode – CTRL-CMD-F (Mac) F11 (Windows)
- Toggle Second Window – CMD-Shift-W
- Hide/Show Detail View – CMD-ALT-L
- Toggle Device/Clip View – Shift-Tab
- Toggle Hot-Swap Mode – Q
- Toggle Drum Rack/last-selected pad – D
- Close Window/Dialog – ESC
- Open Preferences – CMD-,
- Hide/Show Info View – Shift-?
- Hide/Show Vido Window – CMD-ALT-V
- Hide/Show Browser – CMD-ALT-B
- Hide/Show Mixer – CMD-ALT-M
- Hide/Show Sends – CMD-ALT-S
- Hide/Show In/Out – CMD-ALT-I
- Hide/Show Overview – CMD-ALT-O
The shortcuts in this section will help you edit your projects once you have them recorded. These are probably the shortcuts I’ve used the most and the ones I recommend you memorize if you want to increase your workflow.
- Undo – CMD-Z
- Cut – CMD-X
- Copy – CMD-C
- Paste – CMD-V
- Delete – Delete (Not really a shortcut, but still useful)
- Select All – CMD-A
- Rename – CMD-R
- Redo – CMD-Shift-Z
- Duplicate – CMD-D
Session View Shortcuts
These are similar to the editing shortcuts but are related to your session view. These can help you personalize your setup and will also increase workflow. I like to use these commands often as well.
- Copy Clips – ALT drag
- Launch selected clip/slot – Enter
- Add/Remove Stop Button – CMD-E
- Select neighboring clip/slot – Arrow keys
- Select all clips/slots – CMD-A
- Insert MIDI clip – CMD-Shift-M
- Insert Scene – CMD-I
- Drop Browser Clips as a scene – CMD
- Deactivate selected clip – 0
Arrangement View Commands
When I am working up an arraignment in Ableton, I like to use many of these shortcuts to help me navigate through complicated projects and speed up my process. I don’t use all of them all the time, but they are still in heavy rotation.
- Split Clip at selection – CMD-E
- Create fade/crossfade – CMD-ALT-F
- Toggle Loop selection CMD-L
- Consolidate Selection into clip – CMD-J
- Pan left/right of selection – CMD-ALT
- Fold/unfold selected tracks – U or arrow keys
- Unfold all tracks – ALT-U
- Insert Silence – CMD-I
- Adjust height of selected tracks – ALT-+ and ALT-
- Scroll display to follow playback – CMD-Shift-F
- Optimize Height – H
- Optimize Width – W
- Reverse Audio Clip Selection – R
- Zoom to arrangement time selection – Z
- Zoom back from arrangement time selection – X
- Play from insert market in selected clip – ALT-Space
These shortcuts will help you navigate through your recordings faster than using the mouse. It might seem like it only saves you seconds, but those seconds add up.
- Play from start marker/stop – Space
- Stop playback at end of selection – ALT-Space
- Continue play from stop point – Shift-Space
- Move insert market to beginning – FN+left arrow
- Back to arrangement – F10
- Activate inactivate track 1-8 – Press the corresponding F key (F1 for track 1, F2 for track 2, etc.)
- Record – F9
Track Commands Shortcuts
The shortcuts here can also be used during the editing or tracking portions of your project. I don’t use these as often, but they are still good to know about.
- Insert audio track – CMD-T
- Insert return track – CMD-ALT-T
- Insert MIDI track – CMD-Shift-T
- Rename selected track – CMD-R
- While renaming, go to next track – Tab
- Group selected tracks – CMD-G
- Ungroup tracks – CMD-Shift-G
- Arm selected tracks – C
- Solo selected tracks – S
- Show grouped tracks – +
- Hide grouped tracks – –
- Add device from browser – Enter
- Deactivate selected track – 0
You should get familiar with these shortcuts if you want to connect a MIDI controller or keyboard. They will help you better navigate through MIDI control functions in Ableton and speed up your workflow.
- Computer MIDI keyboard – M
- Toggle MIDI map mode – CMD-M
- Toggle key map mode – CMD-K
- Adjust computer MIDI keyboard octave range – X and Z
- Adjust computer MIDI keyboard incoming not velocity – C and V
Depending on your setup, you might want to adjust the zoom of your display. When I’m working on a laptop, I like to zoom in heavily so I can easily see all the parameters of my laptop. It’s much quicker to use the shortcut for this than the mouse.
- Zoom in – +
- Zoom out – –
- Pan left/right of selection – CMD-ALT
- Follow – CMD-Shift-K
- Drag/Click to append to a selection – Shift
Comping is a somewhat new feature to more recent version of Ableton Live. I love this feature because it’s much more similar to using other DAWs that I’m familiar with. Knowing these shortcuts is a must if you plan on recording live instruments or musicians.
- Add take lane – Shift-ALT-T
- Show take lanes – CMD-ALT-U
- Add selected take lane area to main track lain – Enter
- Audition selected take lane – T
- Duplicate selected take lane – D
Sample Editor Shortcuts
Using and editing samples is a major aspect of any Ableton project, and these shortcuts will give you quick access to the tools you need to get this done right. Remember these shortcuts if you make electronic music or anything else with samples.
- Quantize – CMD-U
- Quantize settings – CMD-Shift-U
- Select warp marker – CMD-left and right arrows
- Move selected warp marker – left and right arrows
- Scroll display to follow playback – CMD-Shift-F
- Zoom to clip selection- Z
- Zoom back from clip selection – X
Most of these shortcuts also work in the MIDI note editor, not just on samples. But here are few more that are more specific to MIDI notes.
- Scroll editor vertically – Page up/down
- Scroll editor horizontally – Shift-page up/down
- Copy notes – Alt-drag
- Change velocity from MIDI note editor – CMD-drag
- Move insert marker to beginning – Function-Left arrow
- Move insert marker to end – End
If you plan on expanding your use of Ableton and want to use Plug-Ins or other devices, it’s good to know a few shortcuts related to these. There aren’t many here, but they can be useful when you need them.
- Show/hide plug-in window – CMD-ALT-P
- Group/ungroup devices – CMD-G
- Open second/multiple windows with show/hide plug-in window button – CMD
- Activate/Deactivate all devices in group – ALT-device activator
- Load selected device from browser – Enter
- Click to append devices to a selected device – Shift
This one may not seem like much, but you can speed up the time it takes you to navigate the menus in Ableton by using the arrow keys rather than your mouse. Again, this will save you seconds, but add that up over the course of many projects, and it pays off.
In macOS, you can also press CMD-? to open a search field. As you type what you are looking for in this dialogue box, Ableton will attempt to guess what you are looking for. This is another good shortcut to boost workflow.
Once you are in the menu field, you can use the arrow keys to navigate through everything and then press enter to make your selection.
If you don’t think this saves much time, I encourage you to do a side-by-side test of using your arrow keys version using your mouse to access menu items. You’ll be surprised!
The list here is pretty comprehensive and gives you a good idea of all the most commonly used shortcuts available in Ableton. If you want to learn even more, check out the official list of everything directly from Ableton here.
Learning shortcuts is a must for any serious producer, musician, or engineer, regardless of which DAW you use. You don’t need to memorize all of them, but learn a few dozen and watch your workflow and efficiency skyrocket.
What are your favorite shortcuts in Ableton Live? Did you learn any new ones from this list? Let me know in the comments below.