Editing With ProTools

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For information on recording see the Recording with ProTools page. To edit with ProTools you will need to be familiar with Icons and Tools. It may be helpful to keep this page and Icons and Tools open for reference.

Getting Started

Concept of Non Linear Editing

ProTools is a digital audio workstation which uses non-linear editing. What does that mean?

Where is the Data?

  • Audio clips are stored in a folder outside of the session. The real data, represented by visual representations of soundwaves in the ProTools session, are .wav or .aiff files which are stored in the "Audio Files" folder of the session folder you working from. Regardless of the edits you make the original files of recordings, songs, and files generated by applying effects directly to clips, will still be in that folder. This is also called non-destructive editing.

Audio files in finder.png

  • In the Clips list of the ProTools session some clips are bold, and some not bold. The bold clips correspond to the data files in the "Audio Files" folder. The clips that are not bold are edits. These are location markers which point to the original file. They tell ProTools where to start and stop the audio.

Audio files in clips.png

  • When Audiosuite effects are applied directly to a clip--by highlighting and rendering--a new bold clip will appear in the clips list. A new file with the same name is generated and stored in the "Audio Files" folder as well. By applying effects to the clip a new file is generated. The original audio file will also remain.

Audio files effects in clips.png

  • For more about clips see the Clips List section below.

Offline and Online Data--Including how to add music to your session

  • ProTools allows for offline data--linking to data which is stored outside of the "Audio Files" folder of the session folder. This is problematic. Always make sure that the data in your session is "online". Offline data usually appears when importing music. To add music, go to the File menu and choose Import, then Audio.

File menu import.png

  • To access our music beds folder on the server: Choose Prodstor on the far left and then music beds.

Prodstor musicbeds.png

  • Choose the file to import and COPY

Import copy.png

  • It is tempting to choose Add, since it is highlighted in blue, but this will only tell ProTools where the data lives and will not actually import the file to your session. By choosing COPY a new screen will appear asking where you want the file copied to. Make sure that it is copied to the "Audio Files" folder of the ProTools session. That way no matter if the session folder is on the desktop or the server all of the audio files needed for the session will be in one place.

Copy to audio files folder.png

  • If there is Offline data in your session the next time the session is opened this prompt will appear:

Missing files prompt.png

  • Sometimes the computer can find the file, sometimes it can't. If the files can not be found the clip will be gray and without a soundwave in the edit window.

Missing clip in edit window.png

AND the clip will be italicized in the clips list.

Missing clip.png

  • Remember to COPY and you should never encounter this problem.

Opening an Existing ProTools Session

  • Before you open ProTools, Double-click the ProTools Sessions icon on the desktop.
  • For concert and events calendars, expand the appropriate folder. Drag the folder for the day of the week you are recording for to the desktop. Highlight the folder on the server in red and add BU to the back of the title. This will act as the back up for your session. Open the .ptx file from the folder on the desktop. Delete the voice track and record a new one, but keep the music bed.
  • For other sessions, locate the existing session and drag the folder to the desktop. This will make a copy of the session folder. To avoid confusion, select the version in the ProTools Sessions folder and at BU to the end of the title. Highlight in red. Open the folder on the desktop, locate the .ptx, and double-click. This will open the session and start ProTools.

Playback and Timeline Adjustments

  • To set a point you want playback to begin, click on the time you’d like it to start on the ruler. You will then see the playhead jump to that position.

NOTE: any mouse tool may be used on the ruler - no need to change from Zoom tool or Trim tool to Selector to alter the playback start point.

Blue arrow ruler.png

  • To start or stop playback at anytime, just press the spacebar.
  • If you have zoomed in or changed your view in any way make sure you click the ruler to set playback to current view before you hit the spacebar for playback. If you forget to click the ruler your playback will start wherever you were last and your view will change accordingly. This can be disorienting. A single click in the ruler and a visual confirmation of the blinking line on the waveform and a blue arrow in the ruler will insure that your playback begins where you want it to every time.
  • You can also jump the playhead back to the very beginning of your session by pressing the return key on the keyboard or using the left arrow key in the transport bar.
  • If you want to hear only a specific selection of your audio, highlight the section by clicking and dragging on the ruler. When you start playback, it will only play your highlighted selection.

Ruler highlight.png

  • After you make an edit click the ruler a few beats behind the edit and playback, listen for a smooth transition. If the transition is not smooth or is audible in any way, make adjustments.



  • Playback set by ruler, as opposed to selection in waveforms
  • Always click in timeline to set playback to current view
  • always click behind edit to review before moving on to next edit

Editing with Ambience/Room Tone

  • Put the project in "SHUFFLE" mode.
  • Double-click the "ZOOM" tool to see the full view of all content.
  • Using the "SELECT" tool, highlight approximately .5 seconds of silence from the end of your track. You can check the length of the highlighted material by looking at the "length" at the top of the screen. Hit the space bar to play back the highlighted material. Listen to make sure that it is clear silence free of any voice and contains the least amount of background noise, as it is what you will use to paste over breaths and other unwanted sound throughout your recorded track. After you have verified this, hit apple+C on the keyboard to copy the silence.

Room noise select.png

NOTE: .5 seconds is the approximate length of a period, while .25 seconds is the approximate length of a comma. However, these will differ depending on the pace of speech.

  • Use the “ZOOM” tool to click and drag around the back end of your track. Now, using the “TRIM” tool, crop off any extraneous material.
  • Double-click the “ZOOM” tool to return to full view and repeat the above step to the front end of your track.

NOTE: You will need to use .5 seconds of silence to the beginning of your piece. Adding this silence prevents the beginning of the spot from being cut off when it airs. This should NOT be room tone/ambiance, but a clean muted segment. No Room tone is to be used at the end either - a brief fade at the tail is ideal.

  • Click on the “BACK TO THE BEGINNING” To the beginning.png button to set the playback point to the beginning of the track. Press apple+V on the keyboard to paste your silence at the beginning.

Ambience Beginning.png

  • Once you've done this you can set a playback point in the ruler and hit the space bar and begin listening carefully for mistakes and things such as breaths, the sound of paper ruffling or chairs squeaking and popping p’s.
  • When you encounter one of these mistakes, hit the space bar to stop the recording. Using the “ZOOM” tool, click and drag around the problem area for a closer view. Set the playback marker (the blue arrow) a few seconds behind the mistake by clicking above and behind in the timeline.

Related Articles: Markers

Marker position.png

  • Once the problem has been pinpointed, use the “INSERTION” tool to highlight said problem (in this case, a breath). Hit the spacebar to listen to the selected area. It's important to listen to the selected area before you replace it with silence to ensure that you are not accidentally omitting any sounds. "S", "x", "th" and "f" sounds at the beginning or end of words will commonly not create a visible waveform.

Highlighted mistake.png

  • Then, hit apple+V to paste the silence over the area.
  • If the silence is meant to be a period, leave the length as is. If it is meant to be a comma, click in the middle of the section with the “TRIM” tool to crop the silence in half. At any point, you can bring back material that has been pasted over by clicking and dragging out the ends of sections with the “TRIM” tool.
  • When you are satisfied with your edit, double-click the zoom tool to return to a full view of your session. When you encounter another mistake or breath, drag the zoom tool around that area and repeat the steps above.
  • Continue listening and editing in this manner until all mistakes have been edited out.

Visual Tools


  • power use of view / graphics (to be an exercise)
  • assess targets for edit, review, (transport), zoom selectively

Track and Clips Menu

Tracks List

While looking at the edit window, look to the far left of the screen. This is where the track list is located. If you cannot see it, look for a button on the bottom left corner that has an arrow pointing to the right. After clicking that arrow, your window should look like this:


In the track list you see the names of all of the tracks that are in the project. Each track has a dark gray dot on the leftmost side of the track list. If you don't need a track to be visible for the moment, click that dot so it turns to a light gray. That track becomes hidden and disappears from the edit window:

Hidden track.png

NOTE: Even if you have a track hidden, you will still hear it unless you mute it!

You can also manage your tracks by clicking on the arrow next to the word “TRACKS” for more options:

Track list options.png

Clips List

  • The clips list is located in the edit window to the far right. If you cannot see it, look for a button in the bottom right that has an arrow pointing to the right. After clicking that arrow, your window should look something like this:


  • The purpose of the clips list is to show you all of the clips of audio which are contained within that project. The names of the clips are dependent upon what the track was named before they were recorded, or what they were named before they were imported. New clips are made every time a change is made, but you will not lose the original version.
  • In this picture, there are several clips that are named “Audio 1_01” and have another number after that. In this case the clip “Audio 1_01” is the original clip and the others (Audio 1_01-01, Audio 1_01-02, Audio 1_01-03, etc.) are different versions of the original file. For example, if one recorded their voice onto a track named “Audio 1” the clip would be called “Audio 1_01”. Now if one then proceeded to cut that recording into two separate sections, the result would be two clips with the names “Audio 1_01-01” and “Audio 1_01-02”, but the original recording, “Audio 1_01”, would still be in the clip list.
  • Reminder: Clips that are bold signify .WAV files stored in the "Audio Files" folder of your session folder. Clips that are not bold indicate editing decisions and do not create new data (.WAV) files.
  • Anytime you need to use a clip that is not currently on a track, just click and drag it from the regions list to the desired spot in the track.
  • Next lets look at the clips menu. You can pull this up by clicking on the arrow next to the word “Clips” as seen below:


  • From this menu we can sort, hide or show, rename, clear, and export clips. The most important for the purposes of KDHX is exporting.

Exporting is a quicker way of getting the files you need in a format which you can then burn to a disc. The alternative is a Bouncing to Disk, which is real time so you have to listen to the entire piece. Bouncing should always be used for short form (under 3 minute) pieces.

NOTE: If you have several tracks that need to be summed together, this method will not work. In such cases bounce to disk is the appropriate method. In order to export files, first select them by clicking on the name in the region list (for multiple files, hold down the command key while clicking) and select “Export Clips as Files...”. Now a window will come up. Make sure that the settings are as follows:


  • Use the "Choose" button to select the proper destination for your files. Then click Export, and you're done.

Related Pages

Finishing Up

  • When you are satisfied with your piece you will need to get it out of ProTools. This will involve Bouncing to Disk or Consolidating Tracks and Exporting Files.
  • Before you leave the studio
    • Drag your session folder from the desktop into the appropriate folder in ProTools Sessions. If there was an existing session when you started it should be highlighted red and have BU added to the title. Check the files on the new version, the one you just dragged into the ProTools Sessions folder, to confirm that all the files have transferred successfully. Drag the older version AND the version on the desktop into the Trash.
    • Zero the board (return everything to the way it was when you came into the studio)
  • Prop the door open on your way out.