Apple Magic Trackpad and Pro Tools

After hypothesising about the new Apple Magic Trackpad in July last year, I have now had a chance to have a proper play with it in conjunction with my Pro Tools setup.

I have been using a Kensington Trackball ever since I started my working career, so jumping across to the Magic Trackpad was rather peculiar to start with. I have a MacBook so using it's inbuilt Trackpad always seems so limited when working within Pro Tools. In many cases I would just connect my trackball to keep my work flow efficient. The Magic Trackpad is quite different however. Although seeming to  be a bigger version of the laptop trackpad, the Magic Trackpad is so much more.

After setting up the Magic trackpad via bluetooth  the system preferences allow some customisation of the gestures which now allow you to control and customise your magic Trackpad. I did find these very limited, and the settings are all global controls meaning that you cannot have specific gestures for specific programs- something that Kensington allow for with its Trackballs. The program BetterTouchTool, a freeware application opens up these gestures by having this program sit on top of the Apple System Prefs. This allows for specific gestures for specific applications. Once BTT is running, the Apple Magic Trackpad comes into it's own. This makes the Magic Trackpad ideal as an editing and mixing peripheral, as you can fade, pan in surround and edit far quicker than using a conventional mouse. I also have BTT setup to switch between Pro Tools and AudioFinder, with a gesture (single click in middle at top) setup to export my AudioFinder sounds straight into my Pro Tools timeline! Very Cool indeed!!!

After taking a couple of days of getting use to and setting up gestures, the Magic Trackpad has now become my new "must have" editing and mixing tool. Because you can also import and export gestures from BTT, I can now easily use the Magic Trackpad with my laptop with no differences in my workflow.


Brent said...

Any chance of a quick video showing how it works with the surround panner? :) love to check it out. Been thinking about this since you approached it last!

Paul Schleicher said...

+1 for a video or a short explaination.
I´d love to control pro tools faders with my magic trackpad...what should i assign in that case.
Thanks in advance.

Damian said...

I will try and explain how I worked with this as I have now switched to using an iPad as my controller.
The first thing I did was to download the free "Better Touch Tool" software which allows for far better gesture controls than the inbuilt Apple setup. From BTT I can assign gesture system wide or for individual applications. In the case of Pro Tools I had a 3 finger gesture configured for both the Volume (Fader) control and the 5.1 Pan control. You still need to move the mouse over the desired control however. So if you want to move the fader - move the mouse over the fader and then switch to 3 fingers and perform the fade. The same goes for the pannner.ie. you need the pan window open.
I also set up gestures in BTT for page scroll up and down and numerous other controls. One problem though is if you set up too many gestures it is easy to get confused and combinations wrong which can then effect other gestures...

I hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

How do you use the iPad as controller? Which apps do you use?

Damian said...

Please see this post

Anonymous said...


I'm also really interested in utilising bettertouchtool to operate Pro Tools, whilst searching google I came across your posts/videos.

I'm impressed at what you can do and would love to know your configurations/key bindings used for bettertouchtool, such as when you moved your mouse over to the volume setting of the track and adjusted the volume using three finger swipes (0:53 seconds into your vimeo demonstation video).

I'm hoping to be able to configure mine so that on mouse over of that track and holding command, I can adjust the fader by swiping up/down (and controlling the pan by pressing shift instead).

I'm just really curious what your bettertouchtool configurations are - what shortcuts in pro tools you're doing?

Thank you very much in advance!