Selecting Discontiguous Regions in Pro Tools

One thing that’s bothered me about Pro Tools for years now is that there’s no (obvious) way to select  discontinguous regions.  I put the word “obvious” in parentheses, because I’ve always suspected there was a way but just not something that didn’t involve animal sacrifices and incantations in ancient Babylonian.

I just figured it out, and fortunately it didn’t require the death of any animals.  Select the “grabber tool.”  If you continue to hold down the mouse button you’ll see that the grabber tool is actually a collection of 3 tools:

object grabber






Select the third one, the “object grabber” tool.  (Note that the object grabber tool can’t be used in shuffle or spot mode; if you’re in one of those modes, Pro Tools will warn you and then switch into slip mode.)  Now that you’re in object grabber mode, the mouse cursor will change into an “object selection” shape whenever it passes over a clip (or “region” if you’re still working with an older version of Pro Tools).  You can click on a clip to select it.  But here’s where the magic happens:  You can hold down the shift key and click on a clip to select it in addition to previously selected clips.  The selected clips can be discontiguous, and they don’t even need to be all on the same track.  Having selected any number of clips, you can apply all sorts of editing operations to them.  I haven’t experimented to see if there are some editing operations that can’t be applied to discontiguous selections.

This has many useful applications.  For example, let’s say you have a pop song with a standard intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus-chorus structure.  You can select all the verses and do something to them, perhaps a volume trim, or mute/unmute some of the instruments.

The only limitation seems to be that the object grabber tool only operates on clips.  You can’t just select arbitrary ranges of time on arbitrary tracks.  But this doesn’t seem like too big a limitation.  If you’re trying to apply an edit to multiple discontiguous regions, you just have to remember to find those regions first and turn them into clips.  This of course has to be done region by region, because there’s no way to select all those discontiguous regions without them first being made into clips.

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