Why Doesn’t Pro Tools Play Back My Selection?

Why Doesn’t Pro Tools Play Back My Selection | MEDIA INSTITUTE COLLEGE Why Doesn’t Pro Tools Play Back My Selection?
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By Doug Olson
I got a call yesterday from my friend Ken, a singer-songwriter and music producer I’ve known for many years.  He was pulling his hair out – it seems his Pro Tools system had gone temporarily insane. No matter where he placed the cursor in a track, Pro Tools would play back somewhere else. Ken is quite skilled as a recording engineer, and he’s been using Pro Tools for a number of years, so he thought it might be something related to pre-roll. Unfortunately, toggling pre-roll on and off made no difference.
It turns out Pro Tools has a little booby trap built into it that a lot of people don’t know about.  Actually, it’s a very useful feature once you know about it, but it can be a bit of a nightmare if it catches you unaware.
The feature in question is called “Link/Unlink Timeline and Edit Selection.” The button that turns it on and off looks like this:
Normally, when you select some audio in Pro Tools and then initiate playback, it will play back your selection. When edit and timeline selections are unlinked, though, you can make separate selections for playback and for editing. This is what caused Ken’s problem:

There are a few situations in music production where it’s quite useful to work in this unlinked mode (more about that in another post), but most people spend 99% of their time working with edit and timeline selections linked. All you have to do is click on the button circled below:

Now, when you make a selection (or if you just place the cursor in a track), Pro Tools behaves as you would expect – it plays back from the start of your selection.

There you have it. If Pro Tools won’t play back your selection, check to see if Edit and Timeline selections are unlinked.
Needless to say, Ken was pretty pleased to discover that there was nothing wrong with his Pro Tools system. With a click of the mouse, he was back in action.