Ableton Live is a powerful music production tool, brimming with features to aid users through each stage of the production process, from generating ideas, arranging, mixing, mastering and live performance. However, there are some extremely useful optional features that users may not be aware of, available using ‘Options.txt’. These features have been available for years. However, some have stopped working in the most recent version of Ableton. In this article, we’ll be sharing three of the most exciting hidden features still available in Ableton Live 11. But first, what is Options.txt and how can you set it up?
Before we get started with the three most useful hidden features, let’s discuss how you can enable these features within your project and what format to use. The Options.txt file can enable a few experimental and unsupported features in Live. The process may seem complicated, but it’s actually quite simple. Ableton does state, however, that these features may change or be removed in future updates without warning.
How to create an Options.txt file
- Create a new plain text file using a text editor (Apple’s TextEdit launches in RTF mode by default, but you can change this in preferences or in the Format menu.)
- Name it Options.txt
- Once, you have made your plain text file, input the chosen command (e.g.“-ShowDeviceSlots”)
- Drag it in Live's Preferences folder
Windows: \Users[username]\AppData\Roaming\Ableton\Live [version]\Preferences\ MacOS: /Users/[username]/Library/Preferences/Ableton/Live[version]/
If you are having problems viewing any of these folders see here.
To find out more about the feature and a helpful guide for inputting commands, visit the Ableton Knowledge Base.
Show device slots
Ableton’s best hidden feature is the device slots, which show the plugins and effects present on each channel in the Session View Mixer. This saves you from having to manually check through each channel to see your effects chain and deactivate devices when mixing. The device slots can show up to twelve devices per track. With the feature enabled, an icon will appear next to the sends and returns section in the Mixer, allowing you to show/hide device slots.
Enable arm on selection
If a track’s Arm button isn’t enabled, the track won’t be monitored. This feature will enable a track once you have selected it without having to toggle the track’s Arm button. Extremely useful for those working in a live performance setting. Simply select your device and start playing.
Plugin auto-populate threshold
You can manually add a plugin’s available parameters by clicking the Configure Mode button found in the unfolded device parameters next to the title bar, navigating to the plugin's GUI and selecting the parameter you want to add.
This feature automatically populates each parameter available on your plugin to the panel. By default, Ableton will assign 32 parameters to the panel. When using a device with more than 32 parameters, add “-1” to the end of your command (this will enable the full 120 parameter display regardless of the number of parameters available in your plugin).
More tips and tricks
So, there are three lesser-known features available in Ableton Live 11 with the Options.txt file. There are hundreds more features available and, perhaps more excitingly, some of these features are being incorporated into newer versions of Ableton Live. If you want to learn more about the features available with the Options.txt files in Ableton Live 11, view the full list here.
For more time-saving tips and tricks to improve your workflow and make you more efficient on Live, watch our course with Ableton Certified Trainer Poppy Roberts here.
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