Zooming and looking around in Ableton Live has a reputation for being either unsurpassed in terms of intuitiveness and fluidity, or being way too stubborn in insisting on its own way of doing things. Sadly, at times I associate with the latter. Take vertically zooming on Arrange tracks. If I need to make very detailed automation or edits on a track, it helps to zoom in as much as I can. I’d have to click and hold on the tiny track border and drag down to make the track height much larger, and often I also have to make all or some of the other tracks smaller, so I can focus solely on the track I’m editing. It might be a minor gripe, since it only takes a few seconds to do this procedure, but I’m often doing it a few times every minute.
Other DAWs let you do this quickly and easily using keyboard shortcuts, which I prefer so much more. Live does not have a native keyboard shortcut for this. So I made a Max for Live device that brings vertical zooming back to the keyboard. The device allows you to make keyboard shortcuts using Live’s Key Map mode for the (+) and (-) buttons, that let you instantly expand or contract the selected Arranger track, or all the Arranger tracks at the same time. This has been really useful for me, and I use it constantly when doing microscopic editing in Live, and I hope you find some use for it as well. Here’s how to set it up:
- Start up a new Live Set, and put the Vertical Zoom device somewhere out of the way, like your master channel. Adjust the sensitivity settings to your liking.
- Activate the Key Map mode (Command+K or Ctrl+K), and map the (+) or (-) to your keyboard. Note that on Mac, you can make different keyboard mappings when holding down Shift, and also for Option+Shift, so I have mine mapped to Option-dash and Option-Shift-=, i.e. just like ‘normal’ zooming except with the Option key held down)
- Exit keyboard map mode, go to Preferences, File/Folder, and “Save Current Set as Default”.
Now you’ve got a keyboard mapping for vertically zooming in on Arrange tracks, for all your future Live projects.Download the ‘Vertical Zoom’ Max for Live Device here
Let us know what you think. And watch this space—there’ll be more practical Max for Live devices coming out through Noisemaker soon! Michael
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