Secret Feature in Ableton Live: Show Devices / Plugins on Tracks

One of the things I have been missing in Ableton Live is the ability to see all of the devices/plugins of all of the tracks at once. It’s a bit annoying having to hop tracks to see what devices each one has loaded up.

Well, one of you (thanks Martin) pointed me out to a solution. Ableton have in fact created the feature to show device slots in Live but left it out for some reason. However with a little tweak we can make it happen.

So let’s spill the beans. If you prefer a video you should go check the original video tutorial at Sonic Bloom blog.

Before we begin, please note that I have only been able to test this with Live 8 and Live 9. There are reports this does not work with earlier versions of Live. Let me also note that while I haven’t had any problems with this yet, I am pretty new to Ableton Live. There is probably a reason why Ableton have decided not to include this feature. So be aware of possible bugs in the attic.

Now, once you set it up it looks like this:

Ableton Live - show device slots

Tidy huh?

Ableton Live training online

 

Instructions

All you need to do is create a file called Options.txt with a line ‘-ShowDeviceSlots’ and place it in the right directory.

I’ve made the file ready for you: download Options.txt (right/ctrl click, save as). See instructions below on how to find the right directory to place it on your system.

If you wish to do it yourself:

  1. Create a text file called Options.txt (this has to be in plain text format).
  2. Inside the file write ‘-ShowDeviceSlots’ (without the apostrophes).
  3. Place the file in the same folder where Live’s Preferences.cfg file is located (this folder could be hidden, see instructions below).

 

That is all! Start up Live and in the lower right side of the screen you will notice a new “plug” icon which allows you to show/hide device slots in the clip view.

Show device slots icon

Note: If you are seeing empty device slots, you probably have to make your tracks wider for the device names to show up.

Ableton LIve 8 training online

How to find the right directory

  • Mac OS X: Macintosh HD:/Users/[username]/Library/Preferences/Ableton/Live x.x/
  • Windows XP (Live 4 and later versions): C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Application Data\Ableton\Live x.x\Preferences\
  • Windows Vista and Windows 7: C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Ableton\Live x.x\Preferences\

 

How to access hidden folders

Windows XP:

To make the Application Data folder visible on Windows XP, do the following:

  1. Launch Explorer.
  2. Select Tools/Folder Options/View.
  3. Check “Show hidden files and folders.”

Windows Vista and Windows 7:

To make the AppData folder visible on Windows Vista or Windows 7, do the following:

  1. Launch the Windows Explorer.
  2. Click on ‘Organize’ → ‘Folder and Search Options’ → ‘View’.
  3. Check ‘Show hidden files and folders’.

Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion” and 10.8 “Mountain Lion”:

  • To make ‘Macintosh HD:/Users/[username]/Library’ visible on Lion or Mountain Lion, press and hold the “option/alt” key, and you can choose “Go to Library” in the Go menu of the Finder.
  • To access the top level of Macintosh HD on (Mountain) Lion open ‘Finder Preferences’, select / check ‘Hard disks’ on ‘Sidebar’ tab under ‘Devices’ section.

Ableton LIve 8 training online

 

Further options

There are some further Ableton Live customizations that you can do with the Options.txt file. These (unlike the show/hide devices option) are officially listed by Ableton.

You can read about those on their website here.

Have fun and remember to subscribe my email newsletter to stay current with Resoundsound.com!


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  • http://music.waltercruz.com Walter Cruz

    Great tip! I posted it on my blog (brazilian portuguese) with a link pointing back to your site. Thanks!

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Cheers Walter!

  • Mark

    Does not work in Live 7.

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Thanks for the info. Forgot to mention I’ve only been able to test with Live 8 and 9. I’ve updated the post with this information now.

  • Stoney Jonez

    Kinda lame that they would not even include it in the options. I don’t have any use for this personally, but I can see how it could come in handy.

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Yeah I come from Logic where I’m used to seeing all the plugins at the same time. Helps keep tabs on things.

  • kangeles

    i just get empty banks.

    http://i.imgur.com/3DvR1RO.png

    any ideas?

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Not sure – it could be that the reason they left this feature out from the official release is that it doesn’t work in all situations.

      • kangeles

        I also have a ‘borrowed’ version to just toy around with.
        (running 8.2.1) – might be worth mentioning that its not a guaranteed thing.

        • Tyler

          if you resize the width of the track they seem to show up

          and ya, I’m assuming the bugginess is why it is a hidden feature and not an official feature

        • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

          Yeah. I have now updated the introduction with a little disclaimer, cheers.

          • Tyler

            it’s not really about making them wider it just seems like changing the width, whether making them wider or thinner, refreshes the names of devices

    • James

      Expand the track’s width and you’ll see the device labels.

      • kangeles

        Nice! wouldn’t have thought of that!

  • Stefan

    great tip…thank you…
    But unfortunately renamed names don’t show up and also renamed audio effect racks still show up as “audio effect rack”….

  • aCTIVE kNOWLEDGE

    Absolutely subscribed to your newsletter, and shared this at mahoneytech.com – thanks for the great audio resource! :-)

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Good stuff, thanks!

  • http://www.musisikamar.com Gizky Harry

    This trick is really good, i’m going to re-share it on my websites and link back to your webs.

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Nice one Harry!

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/lordassortedbits/ LAB

    You could replace the Windows-locations with %appdata%\Ableton\Live x.x\Preferences\

    If you use that in the Run command (hotkey: windows-logo + r) you’ll be moved to it’s location, whether the directory is hidden or not.

  • http://soundcloud.com/deepstereo Sergey

    Awesome trick, thank you! I’m sure they will make it official soon.

  • http://reverbnation.com/theusemusic Michael Durek

    THANK YOU!!! THIS IS AWESOME!!!!

  • karswell

    Many thanks for the tip my friend!!!

  • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

    All good!

  • msotek

    superb :D thx

  • http://facebook.com/lairdriver Lairdriver

    I recently purchased Ableton Live 9 suite a couple of weeks ago and just started using it and noticed that I can’t rename Tracks! I click on the Track and when I try to type a new name in – the track either duplicates or all sorts of other things happen. None of which included renaming my tracks. Even if I group them and try to rename the master – nothing happens. The track won’t receive text.

    I have tried 2 different Keyboards and even uninstalled and reinstalled. Ableton Support was not very helpful – I have found a few other people online that have the same problem but with no solution.

    I am using Vita 64 Bit, Live 9 is 32 Bit. It is on a Dell Inspiron 530.

    Any help would be appreciated!!! Sad I want to make full use of name, but not being able to rename tracks via ctrl+r or right clicking and selecting ‘rename’ is a serious problem. [/i]

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Not heard of such problem before – you should definitely get in touch with Ableton’s tech support to solve the issue.

  • http://soundcloud.com/evoplex Daniel

    After spending a few days with Live ( brand new on Live – I’ve always dislliked the GUI), still do) I was getting pretty annoyed having to flipback and forth. I recall you had written some tips on live and i just found this.

    Thanks a bunch Ilpo!

    Keep up the awesome work You are doing here on resound!

    • http://michaeldurek.com Michael Durek

      Right on! I hated Live for the first few months at least. It takes effort to learn, and a controller or some kind helps A TON. It is worth the effort though. Just keep watching tutorials. -M

  • pilzy

    I installed this little gem when you first announced it, so, AGES ago, and, promptly forgot all about it.
    Then, this evening, whilst mucking about, I noticed a plug icon where there wasn`t one before and BINGO!
    Lovin it! Was a little perplexedat first and thought I`d miffed it cus I couldn`t see the names. I didn`t panic, I read on and found out that by widening the tracks BINGO!
    Great stuff Brother, Thank Ye verily much Sir! =)

  • Jesper

    This is fantastic, thanks for sharing! I wonder why such a useful feature is hidden…

  • Erik

    In live suite 9 it doesn’t work ! :( live 8 whas no problem :(

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Hey Erik,

      It works in my Live 9 Suite without any problems. Maybe recheck that you are doing everything right?

    • Luiz

      I was not able to see it working neither. But I found how to fix it.
      Open Macintosh HD:/Users/[username]/Library/Preferences/Ableton/ (don’t go into LiveX.X.X folder yet). You might find that there are many LiveX.X.X folders there. Just copy the Options.txt file to all of them (just in case) and restart Live.
      This worked for me, hope it works for you too.

      • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

        Good tip, thanks Luiz!

  • Donny

    Tried this with Live 8.2.2, 8.3.4, and 8.4,1 but the little icon isn’t showing up :( … For those of you who got it working with live 8,, which versions were you using?

  • Amanda

    How is this more convenient that being able to WORK on them in arrangement mode?

    • http://www.resoundsound.com/ Ilpo Karkkainen

      There are two key benefits for me here:

      1) Being able to see everything in order to get an overview of what’s going on at once is an essential feature.

      2) The ability to quickly bypass any plugin without having to first select a track speeds up workflow.

  • George ‘Deficit’ Linnane

    There are bugs, like it doesnt show changes until you resize the column width, and it can only show the first 4 slots. But useful still.

    There are other things you can put in options.txt too. For example:
    -ThinningAggressiveness=X adjusts the resolution of recorded automation data (default=0.45)

    -ReWireMasterOff stops Ableton acting as ReWire Master, so you can open, say, Reason without the two automatically linking

    -DontCombineAPCs means u can use 2 APCs independently of each other (normally they automaticaly link

    -ReWireChannels=X lets you set the number of channels that will show up in a ReWire Master (eg Cubase) when Ableton is the Slave

    -EnableMapToSiblings=1 is useful when u copy devices through different drum rack chains and want to be able to change a parameter on all of them at once. e.g. lets say u copy a compressor across 6 chains, unlocking this feature with enable you to map a macro knob to, say, the threshold control, on all of those compressors in one go. There’s be a better explanation out there, if you’re interested, google it, itll make more sense!

    And if you cock something up when editing this file, Ableton will crash on load, but it shouldnt hurt anything, just go back and edit the file til it’s right (ie until ableton loads properly). And if u really cock it up, you can delete the file or move it out of the directory, and ableton will no longer see it, and will return to normal.

    Bear in mind too that these are all hidden features for a reason… some of them will be a bit buggy, some of them will be fine. Again, if it bugs u out too much, just delete that line from the file and everything will be cool again

  • Don Hill

    I’m running Live 9.1.1 Suite, and see no Live 9 folder in the appropriate location, only Live 8.4. Tried creating a Live 9 folder & pasting the txt there. No luck. Someone have a work-around?