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 can escape even a seasoned producer. definitely have a look and let me know what stands out to you as the most useful shortcut.


play from playhead

shift + spacebar

starting playback from your keyboard defaults back to the start of the selection. holding shift and pressing spacebar starts the track from where you left after, simplifying the process of resuming from a pause.

best ableton live shortcuts play from playhead pause

insert time

cmd + i (ctrl + i)

it can be a pain to highlight half of your project and move it a few bars just to make a little room for a new part. this shortcut makes that process much simpler.

insert silence can be used to help you get creative with your arrangement. the Beatles famously used to drop in odd half bars or extra beats to create odd time signatures or build extra anticipation before a chorus & insert time can help you do these kinds of things quickly in live.

best ableton live shortcuts OSX insert time

delete time

cmd + shift + delete (ctrl + shift + delete)

I use delete time all the time when editing podcasts & working on sound design & it can save you ridiculous amounts of time as an effective compositional tool when you want to remove a few bars or a full section from your track. make these easy on yourself with this shortcut!

best ableton live shortcuts osx delete time cmd shift delete

loop selection

cmd + l (ctrl + l)

looping in arrangement mode is great for beginning a track as you can hear, track, & develop a section without worrying about the length or needing to stop & restart the transport.

obviously, this shortcut will set the loop bracket to the current selection & turn looping "on". remember you can turn looping off with the loop switch in the top right corner of the program.

best ableton shortcuts OS X loop selection

more looping shortcuts

cmd + arrow (ctrl + arrow)

the downside to these is that you have to first select the loop bracket to make it "active". from there, however, 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.

top ableton shortcuts loop controls move loop

follow transport

cmd + shift + f (ctrl + shift + f)

following playback let's you keep a careful eye on all the details of your track as it plays & this shortcut both turns on and turns off the function. as soon as you interact with live in some way, it will disengage from following, so keep that in mind.

top ableton live shortcuts OS X follow transport

cut automation only

cmd + alt + x (ctrl + alt + delete)

the default clipboard behavior is to edit clips & envelopes as one entity & this is usually preferred. in some cases, however, you'll want to edit automation independently of its associated automation & you can do so by adding "alt" to the standard clipboard shortcuts. notice when an envelope is deleted, breakpoints are created on either side of the deleted segment & an automation line is drawn to smoothly connected.

cut automation only ableton live shortcut

duplicate envelopes only

option + cmd + d (alt + ctrl  + d)

another useful way to ignore the audio in your clips when you only want to focus on automation. fantastic for cycling a pattern in arrangement view, as duplicating automation can help you make interesting modulations above changing audio, like rhythmic filter sweeps.

duplicate envelopes only ableton


fn + f9 (f9)

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 handily also start your transport. 

I find that on osx it's a little difficult to press f9 (as a combination of fn key & f9 key) with one hand & I often find it essential to initiate recording with one hand. this is why I recommend key mapping record to something simpler & saving it to your default template. this way you create your own keyboard shortcut that is much easier to use - necessary for such an essential command.

ableton live shortcut for record

that's it for part 1. check out part 2 and part 3 by clicking below for even more shortcuts you should know!