Pro Tools Sound Effects Library Searching Made Faster and More Efficient with New Workspace Browser

By in Music Creation, Tutorial Thursday, Video Editing

When Pro Tools 11 launched last year, one of the new features included a completely rebuilt workspace browser that’s faster and more efficient than ever. If you’re looking for a quick way to search your Pro Tools sound effects collection, there’s no easier way than searching with the workspace browser.

Why use the workspace browser to search your sound effects collection? Some sound effects libraries are embedded with metadata. Metadata literally means “data about data” and in the case of sound effects, this includes a description.

For example:

  • Filename: SkateboardUp_S011SP.434.wav
  • Description Metadata: Skateboard, Mini, Pick, Up, Cement, Surface

In this case, the filename gives us a general idea of the contents of the .wav file, but the description gives the user much more information in a more flexible and readable way. The workspace browser in Pro Tools searches the description metadata of your sound effects as well as the filenames, leading to efficient searches that give you the most relevant results.

Getting Started

There are a few steps to take to prepare your sound effects library for searches in the Pro Tools workspace:

1. Open a new workspace (Option-I on Mac, Alt-I on PC)

Music: Pro Tools Sound Effects Library Searching Made Faster and More Efficient with New Workspace Browser

2. Navigate to the folder that contains your sound effects libraries

3. Control-click or right-click on the folder and select “Create Catalog from Selection

Music: Pro Tools Sound Effects Library Searching Made Faster and More Efficient with New Workspace Browser

4. Select your newly-created catalog in the locations sidebar, right-click and select “Update Index”

Music: Pro Tools Sound Effects Library Searching Made Faster and More Efficient with New Workspace Browser

After an index has been created for your catalog of sound effects, you will be able to search with nearly instantaneous search results.

Now would also be a good time to optimize the workspace for sound effects searches. The displayed columns can be modified by control-clicking or right-clicking on the header row and choosing which fields you want to see. The columns can be placed in whatever order makes the most sense for your workflow by simply dragging and dropping. For example, the most relevant columns for sound effects searches might be: Name, Duration, Waveform, File Comment, and # of Channels.

Music: Pro Tools Sound Effects Library Searching Made Faster and More Efficient with New Workspace Browser

Once you’ve customized the workspace, be sure to save your adjustments as a preset by Command-clicking on one of the preset buttons. For tips on optimizing your workflow in the workspace browser, be sure to check out Speed Up Workflows with the Optimized Pro Tools Workspace.

Search Tips

When you begin searching your library, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind to make sure you get the most relevant results.

The default search is a Boolean “or” search.  For example, if searching Dark Whoosh, you’ll return results that contain the word Dark or Whoosh (not necessarily both). Use quotations for exact matches, for example “Dark Whoosh” (with quotations) will only return results that match the phrase exactly.

For more control over your searches, use the Advanced Search function (Command+Shift+F on Mac or Control+Shift+F on PC). This is very useful for searching for a word that might appear within other words unrelated to your search, e.g. wind/winding, close/closet.

Music: Pro Tools Sound Effects Library Searching Made Faster and More Efficient with New Workspace Browser

You can add up to six search criteria to really narrow down your results.

Music: Pro Tools Sound Effects Library Searching Made Faster and More Efficient with New Workspace Browser

You can audition your sounds in the workspace browser (spacebar) and skip around the sound by clicking in the waveform view. When you’re ready to bring a sound effect into your session, simply drag and drop to the timeline!

Try It Out

Now it’s your turn to try searching. Why not start with a fresh new sound effect of your choice from the Pro Sound Effects Library?

Avid Pro Tools Software Download

Get Your Free 30-Day Trial

Compose, record, edit, and mix with Pro Tools—the award-winning professional’s choice for music and audio post production. Now you can try the entire creative toolset free.

DOWNLOAD TRIAL
I'm a sound designer/editor and long-time Pro Tools user living and working in New York City. I'm also the sound effects librarian and curator of the Pro Sound Effects library.