Cubase VST Tips & Tricks


Making Custom Key Commands and a Toolbar in Cubase VST

Practically every menu item in Cubase can be assigned to a Key Command on your computer keyboard and also to a toolbar icon window. This feature lets you assign your favorite, most commonly used functions to one single key, or to a combination of keys on your computer keyboard and also to a graphic icon on a floating toolbar which is very much like the toolbox you are used to using by now. It is really easy to do, only takes a few minutes to make and it will let you use Cubase faster than ever before since everything will be one keystroke or one mouse click away. My personal favorite reason for using the toolbar is that you don't have to take your eyes off the screen when you want to do something that requires hitting a key on your keyboard.

Before we begin you can download my keyboard layout Costa Keys for Mac or Costa Keys for PC which I made myself and use all the time. Once you have downloaded it, put it into your Cubase folder. Start up Cubase and go to File > Open, and for file type choose Keyboard Layout. Don't worry about overwriting the standard Cubase Key Commands, if you look in your Library Files folder you will see a Cubase Standard Keys layout which you can reload at any time. Now open the Costa Mac or PC Keys.

To see the Toolbar, go up to your Windows > Show Toolbar and you will see the toolbar pop up.

If you drag your mouse across the toolbar icons, you will be able to see which function is assigned to it. If you click on the icon it will do whatever you have assigned to it without having to hit a key on your keyboard or hunt for it in the menus.

To add some more of your own favorites to this existing set or to get rid of some of the ones you do not use, go to Edit, Preferences -> Key commands

From left to right you will see the first column Command with the functions underneath. I have selected open for this example just by clicking on the word open. If you look to the right under the Key column you will see that O is already assigned to Open which is part of the Cubase standard keys set. You can change this simply by double clicking on it then hitting a key on your computer keyboard or a combination of keys like Control O. It will warn you if there is already something that is assigned to that key and if it is OK to replace it with a new one or cancel. Wherever you see a blank space in the Key column, you know that there are no keys assigned to that function yet so you can add one if you like. If an icon that you want to use is already being used somewhere else, you can click on it and choose off.

To assign a picture or graphic icon, look to the far right side of the window where you will see an Icon column. If you click in the Icon column where open is already selected, you will see a palette of little pictures pop up













You can now assign any one of these icons to your toolbar. For this example I chose the picture of the file, over 3 columns to the right and down 8álike you want to open a file. Now you will be able to open a file simply by clicking on that icon in your toolbar. Next you could click on Save or Save As and choose the floppy disk icon over 4 columns to the right and down 8álike you want to save to disk.


More Menu Items:

If you want to add key commands or icons to more than just the File Menu, click on where it says File Menu á.See Menu Items Screenshotá
Now you will see all the other Menu Items that are in Cubase across the top of your screenáEdit, Structure, Functions, Panels etcáWhen you choose the menu item you want to assign a key to, you will then be able to see all the other functions available.

Key Commands for Tools

You can even use your computer keyboard keys to select the tools in your toolbox. If you choose Arrange/Editors in the key commands window, you can assign the tools in your toolbox like scissors, eraser, pencil, gluestick etcá They will show up as select Tool 1, select Tool 2 and so on. I use these all the time where I am quickly choosing the tool with my left hand and cutting, copying, gluing and moving parts around with my mouse in my right hand.

Once you have made a complete set go to file, Save As (better yet, use your new toolbar icon) and choose Keyboard Layout for file type. Give it a name and save it somewhere safe. I usually use my name for the layout I use all the time, but you can also make different layouts. You can make one for MIDI recording and editing, then another for audio mixing and load the one you need depending on what you are doing at the time. One more bit of advice is to be careful when you are about to save a song or arrangement after having just saved a keyboard layout. Make sure the file type is set to song or arrangementáyou don't want to save a song as a keyboard layout because you will not be able to open it back up again.

More Keyboard Layouts:

If you look in your Additional Files folder that is on your Cubase CD ROM (you did already copy it on to your HD didn't you?) If not definitely copy it over since it has many useful things like mixer maps and keyboard layouts. If you look in the Maps and Templates folder you will see the Keyboard Templates folder. Inside of that you will find layouts for Vision, Logic, Performer and Pro Tools. Let's say that you just switched to Cubase from one of these other programs or you have a friend who is used to using one of the other programs and now you are going to work on a project together. You can open the right layout and now you or your friend can use Cubase with the already familiar key commands from a different program. Of course you can go in and make changes to one of these keyboard layouts and save it as your own custom layout afterwards, but it is great to know that they are there in case you need to use them someday.

About the writer:

Costa Kotselas worked for Steinberg for many years as a product specialist and content producer for Costa has also been working as a consultant to some of the world's top film composers and is now offering intensive weekend "learn cubase" seminars.

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