Flo Tools 2.3.0
As always, the Flo Tools Team has been thinking of ways to make your use of Pro Tools easier and more efficient. Often, these are simple things that make a huge difference. Flo Tools 2.3.0 introduces a few such features. In fact, they’re so simple that besides foregoing the mp3 demonstration, we even considered releasing the new version without a “What’s New” and have our users discover the new features by surprise but then where’s the fun in that?
OK, so if you’d rather be surprised by the new features, feel free to skip the rest of these scintillating paragraphs and stumble across things on your own but, if you want a heads up on what to expect, read on.
You probably remember when Pro Tools users applauded the long-overdue built-in shortcuts for switching between playlists on selected tracks. Shift+up or down arrow is a great time-saver, to be sure. In Flo Tools 2.3.0, VoiceOver will now automatically speak the name of the newly selected playlist. If multiple tracks are selected and playlists change, VoiceOver will speak the name of each new playlist sequentially. Of course, you can always interrupt speech at any time with the Control key.
Along similar lines, Flo Tools 2.3.0 adds feedback for when the track selection changes. when using the Control+p or Control+semicolon shortcuts to move the track selection up or down, VoiceOver now automatically speaks the name of the newly selected track. Cool, no? Of course it is. You know what’s even cooler? Well…
All of the cool kids know that holding down the Shift key while using Control+p or semicolon extends the selection through adjacent tracks. Well, now that VoiceOver speaks the newly selected tracks as the selection moves from track to track, when the selection is extended, VoiceOver now speaks the number of tracks being selected and says the name as they’re being selected. Now, is that cool enough for you? Wait, it actually does get cooler…
Apparently there are kids who are even cooler than the aforementioned cool kids. These cooler kids are quite familiar with the Pro Tools shortcut for retracting a selection from the top or bottom of a group of selected tracks. Control+Option+p or semicolon respectively retracts the selection from the top or bottom of a series of selected tracks. If you’re using Control+Option as the VoiceOver keys, remember to press Control+Option+Tab to pass through the shortcuts. Once passed through, when the selection is retracted, VoiceOver let’s you know what’s going on with the track selection. Now, that’s just practically too cool. If anybody also feels that this is too cool, we might consider retracting the coolness. On second thought, never mind, we’ll stick with the cool.
What isn’t cool is how VoiceOver sometimes reports menu items by their current state rather than the state they’ve switched to after issuing the keyboard shortcut associated with the menu item. For example, Auto Input monitoring versus Input monitoring. When you select the menu item or use the Option+k shortcut, VoiceOver speaks the menu item that was showing before the item had changed. So, if you’re monitoring the input and press Option+k to switch to Auto Input, VoiceOver says “Input” and vice versa when switching the other way. The behavior can be inconsistent from menu item to menu item which adds to the confusion. In fact, trying to explain the behavior can itself be confusing. Are you confused? We sure are. Where were we? Oh, yeah, Auto Input versus Input monitoring. Flo Tools 2.3.0 now takes this into account and has VoiceOver speak the actual status of the monitoring and correctly reports what is being heard when toggling back and forth between the two modes. Yay for clarity and consistency!
There are a few keyboard focus modes in Pro Tools that can sometimes be useful. They are: Commands Focus (or Timeline focus(, Clips List focus and Groups List Focus. The Pro Tools keyboard shortcuts for these modes are Command+Option+1, Command+Option+2 and Command+Option+3 respectively. Flo Tools 2.3.0 reports the focus as it is switched. It’s no big deal–nothing worth writing home about but, hey, it helps, if only to remind us of which focus is being accessed when issuing the shortcut.
Starting with Flo Tools 2.3.0, we’re beginning to offer limited support for Pro Tools First. We don’t know how far this will go or which features we’ll be able to support fully but we’re going to try to do whatever is possible. Stay tuned for more information in a future release.
For various reasons too numerous or not quite numerous enough to mention, we’re splitting off the Flo Tools Mouse and Flo Tools Num Pad macro groups into their own category. In other words, they will not be part of the standard Flo Tools installation but rather separate macro groups that can be installed and used with other applications beside Pro Tools. There’s no need to uninstall or reinstall them. They can just continue to exist within Keyboard Maestro as they are right now. However, if you happen to delete either macro group, the next time you install Flo Tools, they will not automatically be installed. If you need to reinstall the Mouse or Num Pad macro groups, go to FloTools.org and download the installers.
Note that as of Flo Tools version 2.3.0, quitting Pro Tools will result in Flo Tools canceling any macros running in the background. This is to prevent the running of certain macros that, when launched, constantly scan for input. Letting these macros run even after Pro Tools has quit can result in unnecessary CPU load and elevated fan noise. Cancelling such macros changes nothing about how Flo Tools works when Pro Tools is running. It should be noted, however, that any macros being run in the background outside of Pro Tools and Flo Tools will be cancelled when Pro Tools quits.
Subsequently, Keyboard Maestro will also announce that macros are being canceled every time Pro Tools quits. If this becomes annoying to you, feel free to turn off these messages by going to System Preferences, then Notifications, and selecting Keyboard Maestro Engine from the table. Then choose “None” under “Alert Style.”
OK, so that didn’t warrant an mp3 demonstration, did it? Hey, maybe next time we’ll consider doing a whole new consolidated demo of all features from version 1 through 2.x in one mp3. Deal? It’s a deal. Until then, as always, go with the Flo.
Wait a second, we almost forgot: this is our version of “One More Thing.” We’ve added a brand new feature to Flo Tools and that is the Flo Tools Shortcuts Helper. While Pro Tools is running, Press Control Shift Command K to launch the Shortcuts Helper. Press keys to hear their functions. When you’re in the Mix or Edit windows, you’ll hear the main shortcuts that are available in most windows. When you’re in a window or dialog that has its own shortcuts, you’ll hear only those shortcuts that are specific to that environment. For example, Command+f brings up the Fades dialog in the Mix or Edit windows but it brings up the View filter while the MIDI Event List is in focus. Flo Tools Shortcuts Helper recognizes the context and offers the appropriate shortcuts.
Rather than randomly pressing keys to hear their functions, you can also press Control Shift Command H to bring up a palette of all of the available shortcuts. You can even narrow down the list by bringing up the Item Chooser and use first letter navigation to narrow the list to make it easier to find the shortcut you’re trying to remember. You can either trigger the macro, which will speak the function as if you had pressed the key combination or you can press the very first button in the palette (which happens to be unlabelled and that will close the palette. To exit Shortcuts Helper, simply press Escape.
we’ve done our best to cover all of the available shortcuts but we might have missed something. If you notice anything that doesn’t seem quite right, let us know and we’ll make sure to dot our i’s and cross our t’s for the next release.
The Flo Tools Team