Using Keyboard Shortcuts to Simplify Your Editing

I'm guessing that your copy of the Adobe Premiere Quick Reference Card is close at hand. In it are dozens of keyboard shortcuts, most of which you may never use.

Some take far too much effort. Consider that the Windows keyboard "shortcut" to clear a marker involves going to that marker on the timeline (that alone takes some time) and then pressing Ctrl+up arrow+C. It's easier to simply right-click the time display, select Clear Timeline Marker, and select a marker number. Your hands never need touch the keyboard.

That said, there are about a dozen shortcuts I use all the time.

Timeline Toolbox

The toolbox has eight containers. Some of those containers hold only one function?the Selection tool, for instance. Others have as many as five tools tucked away for your use. Each container has a single-letter keyboard shortcut. Nothing could be simpler.

Take a look at Figure 17.1, which shows the toolbox shortcut keys. For instance, you can press the V key to change the cursor to the Selection tool.

Figure 17.1. The timeline's toolbox with its eight single-letter shortcut keys. The five containers with tiny triangles in the lower-right corners hold multiple tools.


Take a close look and you'll notice five containers have tiny, nearly indistinguishable arrows in their lower-right corners. These are the containers that hold more than one tool. I've highlighted two of these arrows in Figure 17.1 and listed them in Table 17.1. Each time you press the keyboard shortcut for one of these containers, you cycle through its tools.

This is a huge timesaver. Instead of clicking and holding your selection cursor over a container, waiting for the fly-out icon menu, and then selecting a tool, the keyboard shortcut allows you simply to press a letter to rapidly select the tool you need.


The timeline has to be "active" for these shortcuts to work. To make it active, click somewhere inside it.

Table 17.1. Timeline Toolbox Keyboard Shortcuts






Select tools, including Range, Block, Track, and Multitrack


Edit tools, including Rolling, Ripple, Rate Stretch, Slip, and Slide


Razor, Multiple Razor, and Fade Scissors




Zoom (see the following tip)


Cross Fade, Fade Adjustment, and Link/Unlink


In-Point and Out-Point (see "Work Area Bar Shortcuts" for additional uses for the N key.)


Using the Zoom icon is the same as pressing "+" to zoom in on the timeline. Pressing Z brings up a plus sign (+) cursor, just like the one in the Sample screen in the Transparency Settings dialog box. What's more, Alt/Option-click switches the cursor to a minus sign (-) and zooms out with each click.

Work Area Bar Shortcuts

The work area bar resides at the top of the timeline. You use it to mark the portion of your project to render or export. Here are two useful shortcuts:

  • You can double-click the work area bar to place "work area bar" endpoints at the edges of the visible timeline area (see Figure 17.2).

    Figure 17.2. Double-click the work area bar to place endpoints within the visible timeline area.


  • You can press the N hotkey, as noted in Table 17.1, to cycle between the in- and out-point cursors. This action also performs an undocumented function: It lets you set the work area boundaries. Press N and then move the cursor to the work area bar. As highlighted in Figure 17.3, the cursor changes from an in- or out-point to a small triangle. Pressing N again cycles between the work area's in- and out-points. Pressing V switches the cursor back to the Selection tool.

    Figure 17.3. The N hotkey switches on the work area in- and out-point cursors.



Premiere turns on its tooltips by default, and I recommend you retain this feature. As you roll your cursor over a tool or button, a tooltip displays its name and keyboard shortcut. If tooltips do not appear, select Edit, Preferences, General and Still Image and then click the Show Tool Tips check box, highlighted in Figure 17.4.

Figure 17.4. Turn on tooltips by clicking the check box in the General and Still Image Preferences dialog box.


More Timeline Keyboard Shortcuts

Most of your work takes place in the timeline. In no time at all, the following shortcuts will become second nature to you:

The backslash (\) key? This is my most frequently used keyboard shortcut. Pressing the backslash key resizes the timeline to display your entire project. It's a great way to get a handle on where you are in the workflow.


Don't confuse the backslash (\) with the forward slash (/). Pressing the forward slash key deletes all frames between the in- and out-points on the Program Monitor. As shown in Figure 17.5, the timeline highlights that region with a gray area band on the time ruler under the work area bar.

Figure 17.5. The gray band on the timeline notes the in- and out-points in the Program Monitor window.


That gray band sometimes appears for no obvious reason. One possible explanation is that you pressed the I and O keys ?shortcuts that add in- and out-points, respectively, to the Program Monitor's timeline.

To get rid of those in- and out-points, press "G." Alternatively, you can press D to move the in-point to the beginning of the Program Monitor's timeline and F to move the out-point to the end. Doing both also will make the gray band disappear.

The J, K, and L keys? These, too, are great shortcuts. Normally, when working in the timeline, you play your project by pressing the spacebar. That's fine, but J, K, and L give you much more control.

The J key plays your project in reverse, the K key stops playback (as does pressing the spacebar), and the L key plays your project forward. What makes these shortcuts truly great is that pressing J or L two or three times incrementally speeds up playback.

The Home (or A) and End (or S) keys? When you're in the timeline, pressing the Home (or A) key places the edit line at the first frame of your project. Pressing End (or S) instantly moves the cursor to the last frame. Alternately, if you have a clip selected, Home/A and End/S move to the beginning and end of that clip, respectively.

The asterisk (*) key? While you're playing the timeline, pressing the asterisk (*) key on the numeric keypad (not Shift+8) adds a marker to the timeline. If you created a music video in Hour 9, "Advanced Editing Techniques and Workspace Tools," then you used the asterisk key. It marks in-points on the timeline for each clip from a storyboard. I'll cover markers in more detail when going over exporting your project to a DVD or for use on the Internet.


The only non-timeline hotkey I use is Tab. Pressing Tab makes all the palettes disappear/reappear. Keeping those palettes open all the time takes processor power. Press Tab to temporarily remove them and free up some CPU cycles.

    Part II: Enhancing Your Video