Pro Tools, one of the leading audio software applications produced and maintained by Avid Technology, is still one of the most popular platforms in the music industry. Despite the rise of iconic suits such as Ableton and Cubase, Pro Tools offer a simple and easy-to-use experience that its user-base still adores to this day.
Affordable, compatible with both Mac and Windows computers, and specializing in the ability to help you produce music for your video games, films and movies, the number of opportunities Pro Tools provides is seemingly infinite.
However, if you’re a user of Pro Tools, the only way you’ll be able to enjoy the full functionality it’s capable of is to know how to use all its features. While the application offers a full and highly-detailed range of functions, today we’re going to zero in on the Nudge feature.
What Is the Nudge Feature?
The Nudge feature is an essential tool you’ll want to use in the workflow of your Pro Tools session. In short, it’s the feature that allows you to move audio clips, samples and MIDI files around your work environment by various increments.
Furthermore, you can also use this feature to line up your audio files to your image or video files. You can do this by nudging it up or down by a certain frame, or even sub-frames. Alternatively, you can simply use it to adjust and slightly modify a certain area or part of your individual audio files.
How to Use the Nudge Feature in Pro Tools
Step #1 – Selecting an Area
Firstly, you’ll want to select the part of the audio you want to work with. You can select an entire audio clip or use the edit selection setting to select a particular area of your audio sample.
Once you’ve selected the area you want to use, you can also tap the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ keys to slightly adjust your selection, so you’ve only selected the exact area of audio you want to nudge.
You can also use the Time Selection option to complete the same task. This is achieved by using the setting found in the toolbar above your waveform or sample where the options are labeled ‘Start,’ ‘End’ and ‘Length.’
Here, you can simply input the time frames, causing Pro Tools to then select that exact region of the clip, helping you to select the areas you want with absolute precision.
Step #2 – Managing Your Regions
Next, when you’re nudging your selection of audio, you have two choices. If your selected audio in a track is part of a larger track, but you want the selected area to move independently to the rest of it, you can do so by pressing the ‘+/-‘ keys while holding ‘Shift’ at the same time.
On the other hand, if you want the entire audio clip to shift at the same time, you can simply hold down your ‘CTRL’ key. In this section, you can also use the ‘Link Timeline and Edit Selection’ option in the toolbar to have the same effect. It simply depends on what works best for you.
Step #3 – Setting Up Your Nudge
Just above your waveform, you will see the Nudge setting located in green below the Grid option. At the end of the bar, click the downward arrow to enter the Nudge settings. This is so you can select how far you want to Nudge your selected area. These are called Nudge Values.
As you can see, there are multiple options available to you, and you simply need to select the amount of time you want to nudge your selected audio region. You can adjust the Nudge by as little 1/64 of a note, all the way up to half a note.
You’ll also find at the bottom of the menu that there are multiple instances and values you can change, dependent on the level of accuracy you want to move your selected audio. Of course, you can play with this till your heart’s content, and you find the time value that you’re looking for.
At the very bottom of this menu, you’ll see the ‘Follow Main Time Scale’ option. If this option is ticked, any changes you make will be automatically aligned with the time scale of the rest of your track.
In the majority of cases, you’ll want this option to be enabled, so everything stays in time.
Step #4 – Nudge!
Now that everything’s set up, simply use the appropriate keys to nudge your audio clip forward or backward.
If you’re on a Windows computer, simply hold the Start + Period key to nudge forward and the Start + Comma keys to go backward. On a Mac computer, you hold the Control button and the same keys to have the desired effect.
That’s all you need to do! Once you’ve had a little practice with choosing your values and how far you want to move your clip, you’ll be a master of using the Nudge tool, and you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits this feature provides.
Keyboard Shortcuts for the Nudge Tool
Below, you’ll find all the keyboard shortcuts you need while you’re using the Nudge function.
Holding SHIFT and Click – Move audio independently from the track
Holding CTRL and Click – Move all underlying audio in the selected region
With ‘Link Time and Edit Selection’ Enabled
If you have Keyboard Focus mode enabled, simply press the key listed below. If not, on a Windows computer, you’ll need to hold the Start key. On a Mac computer, you need to hold the Control key.
Hold these keys simultaneously as you press the appropriate key listed below.
‘’ Key – Nudge to the right
‘M’ Key – Lower nudge value
‘/’ Key – Increase nudge value