the 20 best keyboard shortcuts in ableton live (mac os x and windows)

check out the updated version of this article here

using shortcuts while performing repetitive tasks in software can save you up to 60 hours per year according to some estimates. ableton is no exception - that's more time you can spend on your productions or buying groceries or whatever. so let's review some of the top shortcuts for ableton live! 

many of these you may (should) already be duly familiar with but there are a few that I didn't know about before researching for this article. definitely have a look and let me know what stands out to you as the most useful shortcut.


insert fades: cmd + option + f (ctrl + alt + f)

insert fades best keyboard shortcut ableton

fades are a valuable tool. not just for seamlessly joining clips and transparently bringing tracks in and out of a song, they're also a necessary utility for removing zero-crossing pops from your clips. 

follow transport: cmd + shift + f (ctrl + shift + f)

follow transport best keyboard shortcuts ableton

following playback let's you keep a careful eye on all the details of your track as it plays. very useful indeed, this shortcut both turns on and turns off the function.

mute tracks: fn + f1, f2, f3, etc. (f1, f2, f3, etc.)

mute tracks best keyboard shortcut ableton

how often do you need to quickly mute something to get reference of the rest of the song? you can quickly mute and unmute tracks 1-8 with the function keys. mind that if you have tracks in groups, even if they are collapsed, they are still considered to be in the order they are in.

record: fn + f9 (f9)

record best keyboard shortcut ableton

a very useful shortcut for quick recording. note that if you've enabled "start playback with record" in the record/warp/launch section of the preferences this will also start your transport. handy!

exclusive arm/solo: cmd + click (ctrl + click)

exclusive arm solo mute best keyboard shortcut ableton

the function of this shortcut will depend on your settings in the record/warp/launch section of the preferences. if you have exclusive arm and solo enabled, cmd (ctrl) + clicking these in the mixer will allow you to arm or solo multiple tracks. if exclusive arm and solo are not enabled, this will allow you to to simultaneously disarm or desolo all other tracks but the one you click.

insert time: cmd + i (ctrl + i)

insert time best keyboard shortcut ableton

it can be a pain to highlight half of your project and move it a few bars just to make a little room for more. this shortcut makes that no problem. don't forget you can delete time as well (via cmd (ctrl) + shift + delete) so don't worry about getting too exact with the amount of time you add.

duplicate time: cmd + shift + d (ctrl + shift + d)

duplicate time keyboard shortcut ableton

this shortcut is great for creating variations and "children" from your current loops. just duplicate a few bars over and make adjustment to the patterns and sounds and you've got a b-section!

paste time: cmd + shift + v (ctrl + shift + v)

paste time keyboard shortcut ableton

you don't always want everything moved over, I know. so just copy what you need and paste it right into the middle of your song!

loop selection: cmd + l (ctrl + l)

loop selection keyboard shortcut ableton

a great tool for looping whatever you have highlighted. in my opinion this makes session view obsolete for all but live applications. this same shortcut is very useful inside clips where it will snap the clip loop to the selection.

more looping shortcuts: cmd + shift + l, cmd + arrow (ctrl + shift + l, ctrl + arrow)

looping keyboard shortcut ableton

more tools for working with loops in arrangement view. cmd (ctrl) + shift + l will select the loop to make it "active". from there, you can hold cmd and use the arrow keys to expand or shorten the loop (by a factor of two) or move it around your song.

midi tracks and clips: cmd + shift + t and cmd + shift + m (ctrl + shift + t and ctrl + shift + m)

midi clip track keyboard shortcut ableton

we'll go into the more common shortcuts now for anyone missing out (I was definitely a late-bloomer with some of these, I empathize). create a midi track and midi clip speedy-quick!

quantize: cmd + shift + u (ctrl + shift + u)

quantize settings midi audio keyboard shortcut ableton

you can quantize with cmd (ctrl) + u but if you want control over the settings you'll want to add shift. works for both midi and warped audio.

group devices: cmd + g (ctrl +g)

group tracks devices keyboard shortcut ableton

cmd (ctrl) + g does a lot of things and undoubtedly you're already using it for this and grouping tracks. one of the best features of ableton imo.

open preferences: cmd + , (ctrl + ,)

open preferences keyboard shortcut ableton

cmd + , gives you quick access to the preferences on nearly every osx application, ableton included.

consolidate: cmd + j (ctrl + j)

consolidate keyboard shortcut ableton

I have to mention consolidate, just because it changed my life. incredibly useful to quickly "bounce" several clips into one. flattens any warp adjustments you make. works for both midi and audio. HUGE.

those are some of my favorites, hope you find them useful and time-saving! for me, the speed of ableton enhances and inspires creativity.

remember you can find all of my production tips here and follow the socials to never miss a new tip//