Working with Actions

Actions give you an extremely flexible and powerful way to edit audio files in the File Editor. You can apply an action to an entire file or a selected part of the file, including applying an action to only one channel of a stereo audio file. You can turn individual actions on or off and reorder actions in the Actions list, changing the sequence in which the actions change the audio file. You can adjust action settings after applying the action, and can flatten actions.

Applying Actions

You start working with actions by applying an action to the audio file or the currently selected part of the file.

To apply an action
  1. With the file open in the File Editor, choose an item from the Process menu.

    The item appears in the Actions list.

    Figure. Actions tab showing a list of actions and the Action insert bar and the resulting waveform in the File Editor.
  2. Some actions have a dialog that appears when you choose the item from the Process menu. Adjust the settings in the dialog, then click Apply.

The action is added to the Actions list, and the waveform display updates to show the change to the audio file. You can hear the change when you play the project. Some actions may take a moment to apply. In this case, a progress bar appears, indicating that the action is being applied.

Some effects, including reverb and delay, add audio that extends past the end of the file. This is called an effect tail. When you apply a processing effect that produces an effect tail to an audio file in the File Editor, the file is lengthened to include the tail until the point at which the tail falls below -96 dB. If you apply a processing effect that produces a tail to a selection, the tail is mixed with the audio following the selection. If the tail extends past the end of the file, the file is lengthened to include the effect tail until the point at which the tail falls below -96 dB.

When you apply an action that adds a short (0.1 second or less) tail to an Apple Loops audio loop, the tail is shortened to preserve the overall length of the loop.

Editing Actions

Many actions have settings that you can edit. When you apply an action that has editable settings, a dialog appears, letting you edit the action’s settings. You can edit an action’s settings any time you are working in the File Editor.

To show an action’s settings
Do one of the following:
  • In the Actions list, Control-click the action you want to edit, then choose “Edit Settings For [action name]” from the shortcut menu.

  • Double-click the action in the Actions list.

  • In the Actions list, select the action you want to edit, then choose “Edit Settings For [action name]” from the Actions pop-up menu.

    If the action has no editable settings, the Edit Settings menu item appears dimmed.

Adjusting and Applying Action Selections

You can adjust the selection for an action or set the current selection in the File Editor to an action’s selection.

To adjust an action’s selection
Do one of the following:
  • Make a selection in the File Editor, then in the Actions list, Control-click the action, then choose “Set Selection For [action name]” from the shortcut menu.

  • Make a selection in the File Editor, then in the Actions list, choose “Set Selection For [action name]” from the Actions pop-up menu.

    The action is shifted to the selected region.

To set the File Editor’s current selection to the action’s selection
Do one of the following:
  • In the Actions list, Control-click the action, then choose “Selection For [action name]” from the shortcut menu.

  • In the Actions list, choose “Selection For [action name]” from the Actions pop-up menu.

    The action’s selection becomes the current selection in the File Editor.

Turning Actions On and Off

You can turn individual actions on and off in the Actions list and hear the result when you play the audio file. The waveform display updates to show the change to the audio file. Depending on the length of the file, turning actions on and off can take time.

To turn an action off
  • In the Actions list, deselect the checkbox next to the action name.

To turn an action on
  • In the Actions list, select the checkbox next to the action name.

Reordering Actions

You can reorder actions after applying them to an audio file. The order in which effects and other actions occur can drastically change the resulting sound of the audio file. Depending on the length of the file, reordering actions can take time.

To reorder actions
  • In the Actions list, drag the actions you want to reorder up or down to new positions.

You hear the change when you play the audio file. The waveform display updates to show the change to the audio file.

Using the Action Insert Bar

The Action Insert bar appears as a purple marker along the left side of the Actions list with an associated bar that extends across the list. As you apply actions, the Action Insert bar moves below the last action applied.

Figure. Actions tab showing the Action Insert bar.

You can move the Action Insert bar up or down to a new position in the Actions list. Only actions before the Action Insert bar are heard when you play the project, so you can control which actions are heard by moving the bar. The purple strip to the left of the checkboxes in the Actions list indicates the actions that are heard when you play the project.

When you choose an item from the Process menu, it is applied directly following the Action Insert bar. By moving the bar, you set where in the list the next action is applied.

To set the position of the next applied action
  • Drag the Action Insert bar up or down in the Actions list to the position you want.

    Figure. Actions tab showing the Action Insert bar being repositioned.

Reversing the Order of the Actions List

You can reverse the order in which actions are shown in the Actions list, so the last action applied appears at the top of the list. This is useful when your project has a large number of actions.

To reverse the order of the Actions list
  • Click the triangle at the upper-right corner of the Actions list. Click the triangle again to return the list to its default order.

Figure. Actions tab showing triangle used to reverse the order of the Actions list.

When you reverse the order of the Actions list, the Action Insert bar appears at the top of the list instead of at the bottom. You hear actions below the Action Insert bar in the list, rather than above it. When you choose an item from the Process menu, it is applied directly above the position of the Action Insert bar.

Reversing the order of the Actions list affects only the visual appearance of the list. The order in which actions are applied to the audio file is unchanged.

Flattening Actions

You can flatten the actions in a project to a single action. Flattening actions renders the actions into the file, reducing the complexity of the file and the file size. When you flatten actions, all existing actions are removed from the Actions list, and you can no longer reorder the actions or edit their action settings, unless you undo flattening the actions.

Some items in the Process menu, including Convert to Mono and Resample, flatten all actions in the project.

To flatten all audible actions
  1. Move the Action Insert bar directly below the last action you want to flatten.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Choose Process > Flatten Audible Actions.

    • Choose “Flatten audible actions” from the Actions pop-up menu.

To flatten all actions
Do one of the following:
  • Choose Process > Flatten All Actions.

  • Choose “Flatten all actions” from the Actions pop-up menu.

Comparing the Project with and Without Actions

When you are adding and adjusting actions, you may want to compare the results of your changes to the original file.

To hear the file without actions
  1. Choose “Play without actions” from the Actions pop-up menu.

  2. Click Play or press the Space bar.

To hear the file with all actions
  1. Choose “Play with all actions” from the Actions pop-up menu.

  2. Click Play or press the Space bar.

To hear the file with only selected actions
  1. In the Actions list, deselect the checkboxes for the actions you do not want to hear.

  2. Click Play or press the Space bar.

    When you deselect an action, its settings are saved and are available when you select the action again.

Comparing the Last Two Actions

You can quickly compare the last two actions applied to an audio file or selection. This is helpful when you want to try out two similar actions, and hear which one you like better.

To compare the last two actions
  1. Do one of the following:

    • Choose Process > A/B Last Two Actions.

    • Choose A/B from the Actions pop-up menu (or press Command-F1).

  2. Click Play or press the Space bar.

    You hear the first of the two actions. The checkbox of the second action appears deselected in the Actions list.

  3. Do one of the following:

    • Choose Process > A/B Last Two Actions again.

    • Choose A/B from the Actions pop-up menu (or press Command-F1) again.

    You hear the second of the two actions. The checkbox of the first action appears deselected in the Actions list.

Deleting Actions

You can delete an action if you decide you no longer want it in the project.

To delete an action
  • Select the action in the Actions list, then press Delete.

Limitations of Actions That Change the File’s Length

Some actions change the overall length of the audio file by inserting or deleting audio. These include inserting silence, noise, or a waveform, time stretching, and deleting part of a file. Recording audio, pasting, and adding an effect with a “tail” can also change the file’s length. In the Actions list, the selection checkbox for each action that changes the file’s length appears red, making it easy to visually distinguish those actions.

Each selection you make in the File Editor applies to a specific range of time, and each action applies to a range of time defined by the selection at the time the action is applied. Because selections and actions apply to a range of time, changing the file’s length can change the audio to which a selection or action applies. In the File Editor, you see the selection remain in the same place (the same range of time as shown in the Time ruler) and see the waveform under the selection change.

When you apply an action that changes the file’s length, any existing selections apply to the same range of time, but the audio occupying that range of time may be different than when you applied the action. For example, if you select a range of time beginning five seconds after the start of an audio file, then insert one second of silence at the beginning of the file, the selection still begins five seconds after the start of the file, but the audio at the beginning of the selection corresponds to what was previously four seconds after the start of the file.

If a project includes an action that increases the file’s length, and you turn off or reorder that action, any selection that includes audio added by the length–changing action may extend past the end of the shortened file. In this case, the selection applies to the remaining audio in the selected range of time, but has no effect past the end of the file. For example, if you have a five-second project that includes a one-second Insert Silence action at the beginning of the project, and you select the last half-second of the project, then turn off the Insert Silence action, the selection applies to the last half-second of the project. However, the remaining half-second of the selection is empty.