Make Premiere Pro Fly with These 24 Hidden and Overlooked Shortcuts

Make Premiere Pro Fly with These 24 Hidden and Overlooked Shortcuts

Ask an editor “what do you want more of?” and their response is likely to be a hoarsely whispered “TimeI just need more time.”

That’s assuming that they look up from the monitor for long enough to hear you ask the question in the first place.

Sadly, there’s not much I can do to move that looming deadline for you, but I think it’s likely that you’ll find a useful Premiere Pro keyboard shortcut or two below. And every little helps, right?

So let’s take a look at some of the keyboard shortcuts and Premiere Pro tricks I use to make my edits move a little faster. And if you get to the end and find that I’ve missed something, please feel free to share it with the rest of the class in the comments section.

Usual caveats: Just like I noted in my article on After Effects shortcuts, I’m a PC guy, so I’ll be listing my choices with the Alt / Ctrl key modifiers. Mac users should just swap Alt to Option and Ctrl to Cmd. I’m also assuming that you’re using a Latin-based keyboard with a US layout, and I’ll be using the term playhead and not CTI (current time indicator).

Editing shortcuts

The timeline is, quite literally, where the action is. So if you’re looking at where the greatest productivity gains are likely to be found, then this is probably the best place to start your search. I’m going to assume that you already know the basics like the keys for switching editing modes, and toggling Snap To with S, but I reckon there might be one or two keyboard shortcuts in here that you may not have come across.

Select at playhead: D

Let’s start with some of the easy ones. If you want to select all of the clips on targeted tracks under the current playhead, just tap D on the keyboard. This isn’t a toggle, so repeating the command won’t deselect them—for that, you can just hit Ctrl+Shift+A (which is a modifier for the Select All command—Ctrl+A).

Select next clip: Ctrl+Up/Down

If you’re working methodically through a clip sequence, then using Ctrl+Up will automatically select the next clip on the targeted tracks, and vice versa for Ctrl+Down. Similarly, Shift+Up/Down will cycle through the next/previous edit points on all tracks, which I tend to use more often.

Select edit points: Ctrl+Lasso

Sometimes you might find yourself wanting to adjust edit points, rather than clips. For example, you might need to use the Rolling Edit tool (N) on multiple clips to adjust their Out/In points simultaneously.

To do this, hold down Ctrl as you draw a selection area over the required clips. The edit points will then be highlighted in red, and you can adjust them accordingly.

Ripple Trim: W and Q

I’ll freely admit that I didn’t know about this one for an embarrassingly long time, despite the fact that it’s a primary editing function. Hitting W will Razor all the clips under the playhead and the ripple delete (collapse) them, while Q will razor and delete the clips before the playhead position.

This isn’t a targeted function, so if you want to prevent specific tracks from being razored, make sure you’ve locked them off first.

Extend preview edit to Playhead – Shift+Q

I find this one particularly useful for quickly extending the duration of image assets that I’ve just added to a track. Hitting Shift+Q will change the out point of any targeted tracks to reach the playhead position.

Note that images and mattes can be extended indefinitely, while video, audio, and nested sequences will only be extended as far as their duration will allow. (For that, you’ll need the Rate Stretch tool R, but you knew that already.)

Replace clip – Alt+Drag

Dragging a clip from the Project panel onto a clip in the Timeline will overwrite it. But if you want to keep the properties and effects that you’ve added to the existing clip on the timeline, hold down Alt as you drag the new asset onto the old one.

This can be super-useful when it comes to replacing watermarked stock assets with high-quality licensed versions after the client has signed off.

Select/deselect all tracks: Ctrl+Shift+click

It was a pretty long time before I discovered this little trick, but it’s super-useful. If you hold down Ctrl+Shift (or, strangely, Ctrl+Alt) while you click on the Lock, Target, Sync Lock, or Visibility icons on the Track stack it will toggle every track on or off with a single click.

Before you ask, this doesn’t mean that there’s a Solo track keyboard shortcut (or if there is, I can’t find it), but it does mean that you can solo a single track in a couple of clicks.

Backwards select: Shift+A

You’ll already know that tapping A activates the Select Forwards tool, which lets you quickly highlight every asset ahead of the point where you click on the timeline. You’ll also know that holding down Shift lets you single out a single track for selection. But you may not know that hitting Shift+A activates the Select Backwards tool (holding down Shift still toggles the single-track selection).

Making some room

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a dual-monitor setup—and even when you do, it doesn’t mean that you won’t run out of room. Out of necessity, some edits need to start before you’re back at your desk, so knowing how to squeeze every last pixel out of your available display can make a huge difference to your workflow.

Remove Window bar: Ctrl+Shift+\

If you’re working on a confined desktop, every pixel counts. You can make a little more room by removing the window bar across the top of the screen with Ctrl+Shift+\

Maximize panel under cursor: ` (Accent Grave)

And while you’re at it, you can maximize the panel currently beneath the mouse cursor by hitting the Accent Grave key. (Also called a left apostrophe, you’ll typically find it under the Esc key with the ~ tilde symbol on it.) Tap it again to revert.

A modifier to this (Shift+`) will maximize the panel that’s currently selected, instead.

Fullscreen previews: Ctrl+` (Accent Grave)

The Accent Grave key is also pretty handy for toggling the full-screen view of either the Source or Program monitors—though it’s probably worth mentioning that this view will disregard the Zoom level set in the panel.

Zoom to Sequence: \ (Backslash)

On the timeline, hitting \ will expand or shrink the view so that everything on the current timeline is in view. Tap again to revert.

Open in same bin: Ctrl+double-click

If you’re not a fan of having multiple media bins open in the Project panel, you can open a bin in the same panel (rather than opening a new one) by holding down Ctrl when you double-click the folder icon.

Secret/unbound shortcuts

There are a surprising number of keyboard shortcuts in Premiere Pro that have no key bindings. So unless you go looking for them, they’ll go unnoticed.  And that’s a shame, given how useful some of them are.

To change the bindings, just open the Keyboard Shortcuts panel with Ctrl+Alt+K, search for the name of the shortcut you want to assign, click the space next to it, and choose your required keystroke combination. Pay close attention to any duplication warnings that appear—if the combo you just chose is already used elsewhere, then you might end up breaking something else.

You can, however, have duplicate keyboard shortcuts as long as they’re context-sensitive, i.e. they only work inside specific panels, like Project or Timeline.

Here are some you might want to consider adding to your list. 

Toggle Target Audio/Video

Given how much influence timeline targeting has on clip navigation, being able to toggle specific video and audio tracks on and off using a keyboard shortcut can really streamline your workflow.

I use the number keys with an Alt modifier to target video tracks— so Alt+1 toggles the targeting on Video 1, Alt+2 toggles Video 2, and so on.

Add Guide (Program View)

Maybe you’re trying to maintain some consistency between graphic overlays, or perhaps you’re creating a tightly aligned edit like this one…

…in which case, adding guidelines to the Program view panel can be really useful. You can, of course, use Ctrl+R to show the rulers and just drag them into place, but I like the extra control you get from the Add Guide panel—which lets you set the color and position from different sides, as well as setting distance in percentages rather than pixels.

So I’ve bound Add Guide to Ctrl+G—which is also the shortcut for Group Selected when you’re working in the Timeline panel—so it’s similar to the Show Guides shortcut Ctrl+;

Track height presets

Even the tidiest editor can find themselves struggling with multiple layers in the Timeline view, and it’s a pain to have to drag individual track heights to make room.

Sure, you can use the Ctrl+Minus and Ctrl+Plus keyboard shortcuts, but these increase the track heights of every track, which isn’t all that helpful.

A far better approach is to create custom track height presets, and then bind them to keyboard shortcuts for easy access later. If you haven’t done this already, I can highly recommend it. Here’s how:

  1. Start by clicking on the Timeline Display Settings button—it’s the spanner icon on the left side of the Timeline panel— and select Minimize All Tracks
  2. Adjust the track (or tracks) you want to expand by clicking and dragging the track separator line to meet your needs. (For example, you might want to expand V1 and A1 together.)
  3. Open the Timeline Display Settings again, then select Save Preset…
  4. Add a description that makes sense to you, like “Expanded V1”
  5. Assign a keyboard shortcut from the drop-down menu and hit OK.

(Here’s a quick video showing the process.)

Once you’ve done this, you can bind these presets to shortcut keys (use the search function in Keyboard Shortcuts to find the Track Height Preset). I bind them to Ctrl+1, Ctrl+2, etc, as these are unassigned to the Timeline panel.

Move Video Sources Up/Down

Just like track targeting, I don’t understand why this is an unbound Premiere Pro shortcut. To me, it seems like such an elementary tool that it should be part of the basic Timeline toolkit. But it’s an easy thing to fix—I’ve bound it to Alt+Cursor Up/Down.

When using the tool, just be aware that media will effectively overwrite any assets as it travels up/down the stack, so use it with caution.

Zoom to Frame

If you like Zoom to Sequence (Backslash) then you might also enjoy Zoom to Frame as this takes you right down to the frame level beneath the playhead without having to hit = a dozen times. I have it bound to Ctrl+Backslash to group it with Zoom to Sequence in my head. Tap to zoom in, and again to return to the previous view.

Zoom to Fit Program/Source

Similarly, I’ve bound Ctrl+Backslash to Zoom to Fit in both the Program and Source panels, which helps me to quickly return them to my preferred view when I’ve finished pixel-peeping at a zoomed-in frame.

Hide media in Project panel

This is a lot like After Effects’ Shy Tracks function— where you can assign a ‘Shy’ switch to layers and then toggle the visibility on and off. Binding this to Ctrl+H (for ‘Hide’) allows me to tag assets for hiding, allowing me to focus on the remaining media.

Once tagged with Ctrl+H, you’ll need to assign another keyboard shortcut. I use Ctrl+R (for ‘Reveal’). This is a toggle, so tapping it will let you switch between hidden and unhidden states for assets you’ve tagged with the Hide command.

Quick Export button

Sometimes, the answer can be staring you in the face, and I kind of feel like that with the Quick Export button. I’ve been running off H.264 drafts from Adobe Media Encoder for ages and never once thought to ask what that thing in the top-right corner of the screen was. It’s a bit embarrassing, really.

Quick Export button in Premiere Pro
The Quick Export button in Premiere Pro is often overlooked. By me, at least.

Well, it’s the Quick Export button. Press it, and you’ll get a panel with a basic set of export options that’ll let you run off that draft. And if moving your mouse to the top-right of the screen sounds like too much effort (this is a keyboard shortcuts article, after all), bind it to Ctrl+Shift+Q instead.

Sometimes overlooked

Not every shortcut is a game-changer, some are simply useful tweaks that’ll get you to the finish line a little bit sooner. You might even feel that some of these are obvious (and I’m not going to argue with you there). But I remember finding out that you could hold down Shift in Adobe Audition while drawing with the Brush tool, and I was really annoyed with myself for not knowing it sooner. So I’m just putting these out there in case you didn’t already know.

Nudge

In the Timeline, selecting media and holding down Alt while you tap the cursor key will nudge your selection forward by one frame (overwriting adjacent media as it goes). If you need to move things faster, then holding down Shift+Alt will increase the nudge five frames instead.

Similarly, if you’re in a value field (like Opacity or Scale, for example) you can hold down Shift and tap Up/Down to increase/decrease in factors of 10.

Duplicate

Another use for the Alt key is to hold it down while selecting and dragging a clip in the Timeline. This will create a copy of your selection in the location where you drop it (it also works with multiple assets selected).

Delete preferences and cache: Shift+Alt

If you’ve run into issues with your installation of Premiere Pro, sometimes you need a fresh start. Holding down Shift+Alt while the application starts will trigger a wipe of your cache folder and the Premiere Pro preferences, which can help in a pinch. (Like if you’ve installed someone else’s keyboard shortcuts config over your own and it didn’t work out.)

Non-default behavior

If you haven’t already worked it out, the default Premiere Pro user interface doesn’t give you access to every tool that this editing software offers—it’d be a bit of a bloated mess if it did.

There’s a large cache of extra features buried just under the surface of this NLE. So even if none of these keyboard shortcuts were of use to you, I’d still recommend you take a quick stroll through the Keyboard Shortcuts panel to see if there’s anything that catches your eye.

You never know, you might build yourself a new workflow that shaves hours off a regular edit. And if you do, feel free to share it here.

Thank you to Laurence Grayson for contributing this article.

Laurence is a Sydney-based media producer and editor. After a long haul as the Head of Creative for a well-known global software company, he’s now heading a media production startup specializing in 360-degree content. He also has a patent for an augmented reality marker, which makes his mother very proud - even though she doesn't really understand what it does. Click here to check out YouThere.Media's website.

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