Cubase Key Commands to Boost Your MIDI Editing Workflow

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CUBASE KEY COMMANDS to Boost Your MIDI Editing Workflow

Why Cubase?

Since my first encounter with MIDI back in the late 90s using Cakewalk, I’ve journeyed through various DAWs like Propellerhead’s Reason, Apple’s Logic Pro, GarageBand, Ableton Live, and many more. However, my professional path as a media music composer naturally led me to embrace Cubase, and I’ve never looked back. With the release of Cubase 12, I believe it stands as the swiftest and most adaptable DAW. Its greatest advantage lies in the multitude of hidden features that are always at my fingertips, making it a reliable companion in my music production process.

“In fact, key commands have even sparked new musical ideas, proving invaluable in overcoming writer’s block by facilitating swift rearrangement of the songs I’m working on.”

Cubase has it all

Whenever I need to find a specific feature in Cubase, I instinctively turn to the manual or search online, and I am amazed to discover that 9 out of 10 times, the sought-after functionality is already present within the software. Also, Cubase offers an extensive list of customizable shortcuts, providing a wealth of options for optimizing workflow. It’s fascinating to observe the significant impact these simple shortcuts can have on your workflow. There have been instances where I’ve spent up to an hour searching for specific shortcuts that cater to my needs, but after having the right setting, these shortcuts have allowed me to work faster and more efficiently than ever. In fact, key commands have even sparked new musical ideas, proving invaluable in overcoming writer’s block by facilitating swift rearrangement of the songs I’m working on.

“In the sections below, I’ve gathered a collection of shortcuts that have allowing me to save time and streamline MIDI editing.”

In the sections below, I’ve gathered a collection of shortcuts that have allowed me to save time and streamline MIDI editing. While some of these shortcuts may already be familiar to some, I hope they can still prove valuable for those who have yet to explore these features. Additionally, I have included my preferred keys for each key command, which I carefully(!) selected to ensure optimal finger movement! Please note that while it works well for me, it may not be suitable for everyone’s preferences. Without further ado, let’s delve into them.

  • Note: In this article, I’ve used the terms “Key Command” and “Shortcut” interchangeably.
  • To use the following shortcuts, simply navigate to the Key Commands menu (Edit > Key Commands) in Cubase and search for the corresponding command name in the search field. The Key Commands listed here are based on Cubase 12 Pro, but most of them should be applicable to older versions up to Cubase 8.

Cubase Key Commands that will Boost Your MIDI Editing Speed

Shortcut to Key Commands Menu

  • First off, it might be a great idea to add a shortcut to the Key Commands menu itself. I often found myself needing quick access, so I created a shortcut for it. In case you’re unsure where to find the Key Commands menu, you can locate it under Edit > Key Commands. then simply type “Key Commands” in the search field.
  • My Preferred Shortcut: Ctrl + Alt + K

Quantize MIDI Event Lengths

  • Feature: This function trims the ends of selected MIDI events to match the specified length for quantization.
  • My Preferred Shortcut: Alt + Shift + E
Quantize MIDI Event Lengths

Move Event Starts to Cursor

  • Feature: This command relocates the starting position of the selected event(s) to the current cursor position. Whether you’re working with MIDI notes, regions, or markers, this feature proves exceptionally handy for relocating them to the desired location.
  • My Preferred Shortcut: ; (Semicolon)
Move Event Starts to Cursor

Paste Relative to Cursor

  • Feature: Paste the event while keeping its relative position to the project cursor.
  • My Preferred Shortcut: Shift + V
  • Tips: This functionality proves particularly beneficial when you need to paste an event from a non-snapped position to a specific location. Let’s imagine a scenario where your bass audio clip in the “verse” section is positioned at some random position (due to a valid reason) such as 1.1.3.115, and you wish to paste that event at the corresponding relative position in the “chorus” section (which would be 16.1.3.115). Instead of tediously moving the locator to 16.1.3.115 and then pasting the audio, you can use this shortcut for a faster approach:

    Step 1) While the cursor is at 1.1.1.1, copy the event to the clipboard using Ctrl+C. By copying the event with the cursor at 1.1.1.1, Cubase recognizes the relative position between the cursor and the event itself.

    Step 2) Navigate to the desired paste position at the relative position (in our case, it would be 16.1.1.1).

    Step 3) Press Shift+V. This action will paste the bass clip to the designated location, and you will observe it appearing at 16.1.3.115!
Paste Relative to Cursor

Locate Selection Start

  • Feature: This command moves the cursor to the starting position of a selected event. Probably the most frequently used shortcut throughout my Cubase workflow.
  • My Preferred Shortcut: ` (Grave accent key – located to the left of the ‘1’ key.)

Snap On/OFF & Select next/previous grid type

  • Feature: Toggles the snap feature on or off and adjusts the snap point value based on the selected grid type.
  • My Preferred Shortcut: Snap On/OFF (R), Select Next Grid Type (T), Select Previous Grid Type (Y)


Insert Silence & Cut/Paste Time

  • Feature: The “Insert Silence” command, as the name implies, inserts empty space on the track for a specified measure range determined by the locators. On the other hand, the “Cut Time” command removes the selected range and places it in the clipboard. Any events located to the right of the removed range are shifted to the left to fill the gap created by the cut.
  • My Preferred Shortcut: Insert Silence (Ctrl+Shift+E), Snap On/OFF (R), Cut Time (Ctrl+Shift+X), Paste Time (Ctrl+Shift+V)
  • Tip: These key commands are handy when you need to edit or rearrange entire sections of a song.
Insert Silence & Cut Time/Paste Time

Select from start to cursor & Select from Cursor to End

  • Feature: “Select from Start to Cursor” selects all note events from the beginning of the song to the left of the project cursor. “Select from Cursor to End” selects all note events to the right of the project cursor.
  • My Preferred Shortcut: Select from Start to Cursor (Shift+Home), Select from Cursor to End (Shift+End)
  • Tip: A practical scenario where these key commands come in handy is when you need to delete everything from a specific measure onwards until the end (or the beginning) of a song. To achieve this, follow these steps:
    Step 1) Select all the elements (Ctrl+A) to encompass the entire song.
    Step 2) Split at the cursor (Alt+X) to ensure no MIDI events are left hanging.
    Step 3) Finally, apply these key commands to efficiently carry out the desired deletion.
Cubase Key Commands
Select from start to cursor & Select from Cursor to End

And that’s about it! I really hope these shortcuts have been helpful in stepping up your MIDI editing game in Cubase. Please keep in mind that this list is constantly updated. As we come across more fantastic shortcut ideas that can enhance your workflow, we will consistently update and expand the list. Happy music writing!

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