Taking the Shortcut—How to Use the Command Palette and Map Your Keyboard in Media Composer

By in Tutorial Thursday, Video Editing

Keyboard shortcuts create faster and more confident editors. Media Composer allows you to easily see and adjust keyboard shortcuts to best match your workflows. This tutorial will walk you through how to use the Command Palette to map your keyboard.

Media Composer’s Editing Guide states, “The Command Palette provides a central location for all user-selectable buttons that you can map to various locations for ease of use.” Basically every action that’s a button in Media Composer exists here. If you are a new Media Composer editor, I highly recommend clicking through all the tabs and trying out different actions. It’s a fantastic way to learn many of the functions Media Composer has.

The Command Palette can be used to adjust keyboard shortcuts through a user’s Keyboard Settings. In the Project Window, there’s a tab named Settings. Click it then scroll down to “Keyboard.” Double-click “Keyboard” and the Keyboard Settings will open.

I like to duplicate the standard Keyboard Settings by hitting Command+D (MAC) or Control+D (PC) so I always have the standard settings available to me. Once duplicated, click in the blank space to the right of “Keyboard” and give the new settings a name. For example: Josh Keyboard or Audio Editing Keyboard. To the left of “Keyboard” there is either a checkmark or a blank space. Click the blank space next to the new Keyboard Setting if you want it to be the active keyboard.

At the bottom of the Command Palette there are three buttons:

  • ‘Button to Button’ Reassignment
  • Active Palette
  • ‘Menu to Button’ Reassignment

To begin remapping your keyboard have ‘Button to Button’ Reassignment selected. When Active Palette is active on the Command Palette, any icon in the Command Palette that’s clicked that action will be performed. We’ll get to ‘Menu to Button’ Reassignment in a moment.

Find an action from the Command Palette you want to add to your keyboard. One of the first actions I remember adding to my keyboard was Add Edit. This can be found under the Edit tab on the Command Palette. Click the icon for Add Edit and while holding down the mouse or track pad, drag and drop it onto the key on the Keyboard Settings you want to replace. Repeat as needed!

I shy away from changing most of the shortcuts that are already on the keyboard. My first reason is because if another editor uses your settings you don’t want them accidentally performing a Lift when they thought they were marking an In Point. Second is if you purchase an editor’s keyboard with the shortcuts labeled, you don’t want them to be incorrect. I start by changing the F-keys then changing the keys with a Shift modifier since many of them are blank by default. To map shortcuts to the Shift modifier (i.e. Shift+P), hold down Shift before clicking on the Command Palette to show the Shift+ keyboard for those Keyboard Settings.

Once you’ve mapped every action from the Command Palette you want onto your Keyboard Settings, there’s one more step – adding menu items to your keyboard. On the Command Palette activate ‘Menu to Button’ Reassignment. Go to the Keyboard Settings and click the key you want to change. Then go up to the menu bar and select a menu item. I like to add various tools like the Audio Tool and Audio Mixer.

Mapping menu items is not only limited to the menu bar at the top of the screen. You can go to the Fast Menu on different windows and map actions from there too. Waveforms is a must add shortcut for my workflow (I like Shift+W) so with ‘Menu to Button’ Reassignment active, hold Shift and click W. Then go down to the Timeline Fast Menu. Find Audio Data and click Waveform.

Some other actions I add from the Command Palette and the menus are different workspaces, Tracks V3-9, Cyan Marker, Blue Marker, Import, Export, Top, Tail, Match Frame, Reverse Match Frame and many more. After a few dedicated weeks, it’ll be second nature to you. And after several years, Media Composer will be finely tuned so you edit as efficiently as possible.

Once you’re comfortable, you will speed up your editing greatly and never look back.

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I enjoy helping video editors, at all levels, improve their craft through online education and regularly publish about video editing on EditVideoFaster.com. I am a keyboard-shortcut enthusiast and love baseball, my dog, and family. I currently reside in the Washington, DC area.