Why keyboard shortcuts help you edit video faster?
Post production / video editing is often the most time consuming part of any project and learning to edit video faster will make you a better editor. As an editor, there are numerous things that you do that are tedious and repetitive. Fortunately, repetitive tasks can be performed so much faster through the use of keyboard shortcuts. One of the things that helped our efficiency more than anything is the implementation of keyboard shortcuts.
As a rule of thumb, if you repeat a task / function more than ~4 times a day, do it with a shortcut!
It might only seem like you’re saving a small amount of time, but because you’re repeating those tasks over and over again, those saved up seconds add up very quickly.
Remember, the less you have to move your mouse, the faster you’ll get at editing.
If you’re an editor and you’re not taking full advantage of the shortcuts offered by your editing software, this is for you. Whether you work in Premiere Pro, DaVinci Resolve, Final Cut, Sony Vegas or another NLE, these are universal shortcuts and will work across the board.
This article is not going to cover what the best layout is for shortcuts, nor is it going to cover every single shortcut available. Instead, we are going to look at the keyboard shortcuts we use the most. These will be split up into two categories, Essentials and Advanced.
Essential Video Editing Shortcuts
Expand / Minimize Timeline
This is used to zoom in and out of your timeline. This shortcut is used all the time as you navigate your way around your edit.
Although our editing suites should be set to auto-save, it is good practice to manually save as often as you can. This is especially true after major changes.
Undo / Redo
The ability to go back and forth in time is something we do a lot during editing as their is a lot of trial and error. This is also really handy when making small tweaks and deciding which looks better.
Copy / Paste
A function that any computer user will be familiar with. Editing is no different, we do this all the time moving things around our project and timeline.
Switching to the razor tool (to make a cut) is something we do so much of when we edit. Learn the shortcut to be able to switch to the razor tool at a button’s press. Pro Tip: You can stack a cut (usually with Shift) to also cut across all video and audio tracks, not just the one beneath your cursor.
Once finished with a tool, you will want to revert your cursor back to the standard arrow (selection tool). Learning the shortcut will have you switching between tasks with lightening speed.
Make Edit (Cut)
This simply creates a cut on the targeted track. This one is a huge time saver. Instead of changing to the razor tool in order to create a cut, we can assign a key that will make a cut where the playhead is.
Ripple Trim Next Edit to Playhead
Cuts and trims off everything to the right of the playhead on the selected track. This one is a huge time saver during the process of making selects.
Ripple Trim Previous Edit to Playhead
Cuts and trims off everything to the left of the playhead on the selected track. This one is a huge time saver during the process of making selects.
Mark In / Mark Out
Marking an in and out point of a section of clip or on a timeline can be done at the press of two buttons.
Mark clip selects the in and out point of the entire clip that is currently selected. This is useful for when you quickly need to select something to render or to loop playback.
We often need to render a preview for smooth playback (especially after multiple effects have been stacked). This executes a pre-render of the selected area.
Clear In & Out
If you’ve finished working with your selection, use a shortcut to clear it. It’s good practice to clear your in and out to avoid accidental changes to that work area.
Used to locate the full sequence of a particular frame (or selection) that is on your timeline. This is useful when you have a selection of a clip already placed in a timeline but you would like to view that selection across the entire clip (perhaps to find a new selection).
Advanced video editing shortcuts
Track Select (Forward)
Selects everything to the right of the playhead (on all tracks). Super useful for moving large sections of your timeline around.
Track Select (Backward)
Selects everything to the left of the playhead (on all tracks).
Nudge Clip Selection Up / Down
You can nudge a clip up or down a track (eg: V1 to V2, A2 to A1 etc). Dragging your clips up or down is not only more time consuming, but can be prone to error when you accidentally drag it slightly backwards or forwards on the timeline. Pro Tip: Nudging clips to different track levels is useful to visually indicate which are your best when making selects.
Clip Link / Unlink
Linking or unlinking a clip to it’s audio track is handy. Whether you want to make a “J-cut” or an “L-cut” or replace the audio / video with something else.
Apply Audio Crossfade Transition
Use a shortcut to automatically add a Constant Power to the cut closest to your marker. This will blend your audio tracks for a smooth transition and so you don’t get any pops and clips. If you’re editing video that has a lot of field audio or dialogue (documentary, vlog, tutorial) this is something you will be doing a lot of!
Pro Tip: You can apply this to a selection of clips too. Learn more about sound design in editing here.
Maximize or Restore Frame Under Cursor
This shortcut will maximize whichever panel the cursor is on when pressed, and bring it back to regular size when pressed again. This is especially useful for those of us who edit on laptops where screen real estate is limited.
Enable / Disable Clip
This is used to disable/enable a clip on the timeline. Pro Tip: This can especially be useful when you have a few variations of video or audio that you can toggle between. This is much faster than dragging the one you want to see to the top.
Used for shifting your footage backwards or forwards in time. Say your selection is already placed on the timeline and is correctly timed, but you want to use a slightly different portion of that clip. Instead of dragging it out, making a new selection, and dragging it back in – this can be achieved with the slip tool.
Apart from titles, text layers are a super useful tool for adding ideas or planning directly on your timeline. Write out your ideas into words as they come to you.
We hope you’ve learned something useful from this. Even if it’s one new shortcut or tool, every bit makes a difference to your efficiency. We recommend not trying to implement these all at once as it can be intimidating and a lot to try and remember.
Instead, just pick a few to start with and once those become habit, then add in some more.