Chapter 18: Automation – Envelopes and More

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18 Automation, Envelopes and More[edit]

(wiki) editor's note. This chapter provides helpful and more detailed information in how automation in reaper works. Follow this community created article which will outline basic procedures for getting automation into your projects.

18.1 Understanding Automation[edit]

Automation is used to ensure that when your tracks are played, recorded changes in such things as volume level or panning can be recalled with the music in real time. At its simplest, for example, automation can lift the volume of a lead instrument during a particular break or passage, or add a little presence or warmth to the odd phrase here or there on a vocal track, to make it stand out in the mix a touch more.

An example of a simple envelope (for Volume) is shown here. The envelope is in this case displayed below the media item. In the TCP you can see an envelope panel with its own envelope controls, just below the track controls. When the track is played, the volume of the track will rise and fall, following the shape of the envelope.

In this second example (below) the same envelope is displayed this time not in its own lane but on top of the media item. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. The first makes it easier to work with the envelope, but uses more screen real estate. The second takes up less space, but makes tasks such as editing that little bit trickier. Whether your envelopes are initially created in separate lanes or over the media item will depend on your Editing Behavior Envelopes Preference Settings. Keep in mind that you can change the display mode of an existing envelope at any time, using the Show envelope in lane toggle command on the envelope right-click context menu.

REAPER features two main types of automation,one method uses envelopes alone, whilst the other uses a rather more complex (and powerful) technique known as parameter modulation. This chapter will deal with creating and using envelopes. Parameter modulation will be covered in Chapter 19.

18.2 Automation Envelope Methods[edit]

REAPER's various automation modes essentially make available to you two main ways of using envelopes for automating your projects. These are writing automation and manually creating envelopes.

Writing Automation: When writing automation, you instruct REAPER to remember your actions,such as fading a volume control up and down,as your project is played. These actions are used to create an envelope which is then reproduced when you play back the track. There are three different methods that you can use to write such envelopes,write, touch and latch (including latch preview). We,ll get round to explaining the differences shortly.

Manually Creating Envelopes: As an alternative to using your faders to create envelopes, you can shape them manually. This gives you a very fine degree of control over your project. You can draw your envelope curves freehand, add points to them at will, and use your mouse to manually move these points up or down. Envelopes created in this way will behave in exactly the same way as if actual fader movements had been recorded. Trim/Read mode is used when you are creating or editing envelopes in this way. If you wish, you can write envelopes in, say, latch mode then edit them in Trim/Read mode.

Whichever mode is currently selected is displayed on a track's envelope button. We'll explore the different automation modes in detail in the sections that follow. Both have their advantages and you can use any combination of modes on different tracks in your project. With both recorded and manual envelope automation, it is perfectly possible (and quite easy) to edit the automation instructions afterwards, or to remove them altogether if that,s what you want to do.

18.3 The Track Envelopes Window[edit]

Any track,s envelopes can be managed from the Envelopes Window for that track. This is opened by clicking on the track,s Envelope button in either the TCP or MCP. You can use this window, for example to:

Set the Automation mode for the track.

Create an envelope (e.g. for Volume, Pan or Mute for a track or send).

To show or hide an envelope from view.

To Arm an envelope or Disarm it.

This envelopes window includes buttons that can be used for such global options as showing or hiding all envelopes on that track. These issues will be explained and explored in the pages that follow.

The Highlight box can be used to help you find what you are looking for more easily. For example, type volume in the highlight box and all items whose name includes volume will be highlighted.

Any plug-ins that have been placed in the track,s FX chain will also be listed in this window. In this example, we have ReaComp. Click on the small + symbols next to the plug-in,s name to open up a list of plug-in parameters for which you can also create envelopes. We,ll see some examples of this soon.

Checking the option to Show last touched FX parameters only can help prevent screen clutter.

Tip: By default, the shortcut keys V and P can be used to toggle the display of Volume and Pan envelopes

18.4 Available Track and Send Envelopes[edit]

The following are the automation envelopes that by default are available for all tracks and sends. Envelopes for plug-ins and FX will be discussed later in this chapter.

Envelope Description Volume Adjusts the volume of the Track,s Output, after, for example, any item or track FX have been applied. This sets the level of the signal that is sent to the Master Track.
Pan Moves the balance pan control more towards the left, right, or dead center: the signal that is sent post FX from the track to the Master Track.
Width Moves the width control more towards the left, right, or dead center: the signal that is sent post FX from the track to the Master Track.
Volume (Pre FX) Adjusts the volume of the track signal that is fed to the track,s FX chain. This is generally equivalent to the Gain control that you can find on some desks and mixers.
Pan (Pre FX) Similar to Pan control but before track FX or track faders are applied.
Width (Pre FX) Similar to Width control but before track FX or track faders are applied.
Trim Volume A rather different type of envelope that can be used to modify the track volume envelope. This will be considered later in this chapter.
Mute This envelope has effectively only two states,On and Off. It is used to mute passages of a track.
Send Volume Adjusts the volume of the track signal that is sent to the destination track. Can be used for Post Fader (Post Pan), Post FX and Pre FX sends.
Send Pan Adjusts the panning of the track signal that is sent to the destination track. Can be used for Post Fader (Post Pan), Post FX and Pre FX sends.
Send Mute This envelope has effectively only two states,On and Off. It is used to mute passages on a send.

18.5 Writing Automation[edit]

To create automation envelopes using the Write feature, use this method:

In the MCP or TCP, click on the Envelopes (Automation) button (right) to open the track's envelopes window. The envelope button displays the currently selected automation mode for that track. In the example shown, this is Trim.

Select the item you wish to automate, and make sure to also select the options Visible and Arm.

Set Automation mode to Write.

Close the Envelopes window.

Position the Edit Cursor where you wish to start.

Play the song. As you do so, adjust the on screen control which controls the parameter that you are automating. Stop play when finished.

Right click over the Envelope button for that track and select Trim/Read or Read.

Play the song. Listen and look! If you selected Read mode, the faders will move up and down as the automation is applied.

Note that if you prefer, instead of opening the envelopes window, you can right-click on the track's envelope button and make your choices from the context menu (see right).

Tip: If you enable Automatically add envelopes when tweaking para in automation write modes (Options, Preferences, Automation), then when write mode is selected you can create any envelope automatically simply by adjusting the required track or FX parameter control during playback.

Automation Write Example

  1. Open your file All Through The Night.RPP. Save it as All Through The Night AUTO.RPP. We are going to add an automation envelope to the Bouzouki track to fade this track up a little in the passage between the first and second verses of this song.
  2. Use your mouse to increase the height of the Bouzouki track. This isn,t absolutely necessary, but makes it easier to see what you are doing.
  3. Insert the JS: Utility/Limiter plug-in to the master track and set its threshold to ,2.0. This is a precaution against clipping. Position the play cursor just before the end of the first vocal passage at about the 40 second mark.
  4. Now click on the Envelopes/Automation button for the Bouzouki track. Select Volume and make it both Visible and Armed. Select the automation mode Write for this track (see above).
  5. Close the Envelopes window. Notice that the Volume fader for this track is now colored red and a Volume envelope has been created. The Envelope button now reads Write.
  6. Play the song from about the 48 sec mark for about 15 sec. At the instrumental break, use your mouse to raise the track fader for the Bouzouki volume (not the envelope volume fader) by about a three decibels. Hold it there, then at the end of the instrumental break lower the fader to its original position. Stop play.
  7. Right click over the Envelope button for the Bouzouki track and choose Automation Mode: Read from the context menu. Zoom closely into the part of the song that goes from about 45 secs to about 65 secs.
  8. The fader area for the Volume control on this track will now be green, and your automation envelope should be clearly visible (see right).
  9. Play the song. The volume faders for this track (in both arrange and mixer views) will automatically move to show changes in volume in accordance with the movements that you recorded. Save this file.

Note: You do not need to select Automation Read mode in order for the automation to take effect. Trim/Read mode, for example, will also do this, but without moving the faders. In the above case, this would allows you to tweak the track's volume during playback by manually adjusting its volume fader. You,ll find a more detailed explanation of the various automation modes later in this chapter.

Modifying the Envelope

It,s very likely that you won,t get the exact settings for your automated faders 100% correct first time. To fix this, either use Automation Touch mode to write changes to your envelope, or edit the envelope by hand.

18.6 Envelope Points Options[edit]

Right click on the envelope button on the main toolbar for a number of options that will help determine envelope behavior. These are also available on the Options menu (Envelope points command).

The option to Move envelope points with media items should be enabled if you wish an envelope to follow its media item when that item is moved.

Be careful how you use Envelope point selection follows time selection. This enables you to move all points within a time selection by clicking and dragging on any one of them. If you want to move only one point (or a selection of points) within a time selection, make sure that this option is disabled.

Edge points can be used to make it visually easier for you when you are moving a group of points within a time selection: enable Add edge points when moving envelope points, make the time selection, choose Select all points in time selection, then click and drag (left or right) any envelope point within the selection.

The option to Reduce envelope point data when recording or drawing automation should be enabled if REAPER is creating more points than you want when, for example, you write automation data, using either your mouse or a control surface.

To reduce the number of points on an existing envelope that has already been recorded:

  1. Select (click on) the envelope.
  2. Define the required time selection. All envelope points in that selection will be selected. You might want to zoom in.
  3. Right-click over the envelope.
  4. From the menu, choose Reduce Number of Points.
  5. Select (probably) Points in time selection only or (possibly) All Points.
  6. Adjust the fader until the number of points shown looks about right. An example is shown above.
  7. Click on OK.

18.7 Writing Mute Automation[edit]

One special way of using automation is in conjunction with a track,s Mute button to automatically mute unwanted passages of a track. The procedure for doing this is outlined below:

Click on the track,s Envelopes/Automation button to display the envelopes window.

Select the Mute envelope and set the mode to Write. Then close the Envelopes window.

The Envelopes/Automation button will read Write and the armed mute button will be highlighted in red. Notice (above) how this is displayed when set to this mode.

Now play the track7. As you do so, click on the track,s Mute button at the start and end of any passages that you require to be muted.

When finished, stop playback. Automation mode for this track should automatically change to Trim/Read (unless this default setting has been changed in your Editing Behavior, Automation preferences).

In the example (right), a vocal track is muted when it is not intended to be heard. Read mode has been selected. When the track is played back, the color of the Mute button changes to red during the muted passages.

18.8 Automation Modes[edit]

Automation mode can be set as already shown from inside the Envelopes/Automation window or by right-clicking on the track envelopes/automation button. In fact, there are a number of ways that this can be done:

Select the required mode from the Envelopes window.

Right-click on the Envelopes/Automation button and select the required mode from the context menu.

In the TCP, right click over any automation lane and select the required mode from the context menu.

From the main menu, choose Track, Track automation mode (or right-click over the track number and select this from the context menu).

The following table summarizes the six available automation modes.

Automation Description Trim/Read Existing envelopes are applied, but on-screen controls do not move. Trim/Read mode might seem strange at first, but it does bring you a useful benefit. You can use a track,s controls for overall changes. Existing envelopes are applied, but on-screen controls do not move. Trim/Read mode might seem strange at first, but it does bring you a useful benefit. You can use a track,s controls for overall changes. Fader movements are not recorded. For example, adjusting a track,s Volume fader in this mode will raise or lower the volume for the whole track relative to the envelope.
Read Applies envelopes and moves controls for armed items, but does not write or remember any changes that you make to them.
Touch This is similar to Latch, but stops making changes to envelope points when you stop adjusting them. If using a MIDI controller, however, you may find that Touch mode functions in the same way as Latch mode.
Latch Writes and remembers any changes that you make to settings, and creates new points on existing track envelopes. Changes commence when you first adjust a setting, and continue to be remembered until playback stops.
Latch Preview This mode enables you to try out changes to parameter values (e.g. volume level or pan position) without actually writing them to envelopes. When you are happy with your parameter settings you can then use an action to write them to your envelope(s). Because this concept can be difficult to grasp at first, it will be considered in a section of its own, after this section.
Write Writes and remembers current settings as edit points, along with any changes that you make to settings for armed items during playback. In this mode, previously written envelopes for armed items will be over written. REAPER's Automation preferences include an option to automatically switch to another mode immediately after recording automation in Write mode. By default, it will switch to Trim/Read.

When you are in Latch, Touch or Write mode, an envelope can also be armed by clicking on the Arm Record button in its automation lane (where one exists). Remember also after using Write, Latch or Touch mode to change to Read or Trim/Read mode, to prevent further automation from being accidentally recorded.

A number of actions are available in the Actions List for smart editing existing envelopes after first setting the envelope(s) to latch, touch or write mode. These allow you to copy the value of an envelope (or envelopes) at the current cursor point all the way to the start of a project or all the way to the end of a project, or to a time selection. To see a full list of these actions, enter auto write into the Actions List filter box. Some of these will be examined in the next section, Latch Preview Mode.

Here is an example.

This track has a volume envelope, currently in trim/read mode. Note the cursor position. Suppose we want to set the last part to this same volume level.

In the second picture, we have selected write mode and marked as a time selection the part of the envelope that we wish to change.

Finally, we run the action Automation: Write current values for all writing envelopes to time selection.

The envelope in this section is now set to the desired level.

18.9 Latch Preview Mode[edit]

This mode enables you to try out changes to parameter values (e.g. volume level or pan position) without actually writing them to envelopes. When you are happy with your parameter settings you can then use an action to write them to your envelope(s). Let's start by working thru a relatively simple example, before introducing some of the other options that are available.


  1. Here we have a song with an instrumental break. We want to increase the volume of the featured instrument during the break, but by how much? (For ease of illustration, other instrument tracks are not shown).

We have added a time selection and a volume envelope to the track and inserted two points at both the start and end of the break.

  1. We play the song, adjusting the volume control until we are happy with the level (in this case at +2.17dB). We can keep adjusting this until we are happy with the level: notice, however, that the envelope is not yet adjusted.
  2. We now display the actions list (Actions, Show action list) and run the action Automation: Write current values for actively-writing envelopes to time selection. The envelope is now adjusted.

Finally (not shown) we can reset the track automation to trim/read mode.

You might want to work using latch preview mode on more than one envelope on a track, or indeed on more than one track. You might want to use ,write to, options other than to time selection. Keeping this in mind, here is a summary of the main actions available. Remember that these can be assigned to keyboard shortcuts, toolbars, and/or menus (see Chapter 15).

Set automation mode actions:

Automation: Set track automation mode to latch preview

Automation: Set all tracks automation mode to latch preview

Global automation override: All automation in latch mode

Automation write actions:

Automation: write current values for actively-writing envelopes to [entire project or time selection]

Automation: write current values for actively-writing envelopes from cursor to [entire project or first touch position or start of project]

Automation: write current values for all writing envelopes [from cursor to end project or from cursor to start of project or to time selection]

Latch clear actions:

Automation: Clear [track or all track] envelope latches

These options together should provide you with all you need for your latch automation preview requirements.

For a greater in-depth understanding of this and other advanced automation features, go to

18.10 Global Automation Override[edit]

The Global Automation Override (Global Auto) button on the transport bar can be used to apply global options to your envelopes. Right click on this button to display the menu which can be used to:

Toggle bypass on/off for all envelopes.

Select a single automation mode (such as Trim/Read or Read) for all tracks.

Toggle display of all active envelopes.

A global option can be removed by the No global override command. Each track will then be returned individually to its former state, with its previous individual automation mode and bypass settings restored.

18.11 The Envelope Panel Controls[edit]

The envelope panel's fader is used to write automation (write, latch or touch modes), show automation changes (read mode) or adjust the parameter value for the entire track or selected envelope segment (trim/read mode). In the default theme this is a rotary control. When a track has other envelopes that are not displayed in lanes, you can click on the envelope name (in the example shown this is Volume) and choose from the list a different envelope to display in its place.

Other controls are the Bypass toggle and next to that the Hide/Clear button (used to hide an envelope, move it to the media lane, or clear it altogether). FX parameter envelopes may also have some additional controls, for example to enable parameter modulation or learn mode (see later in this chapter and Chapter 19).

18.12 Manually Adjusting Envelopes[edit]

As an alternative to writing automation to define and shape your envelopes, you can use your mouse directly within the envelope lane. This is especially useful, for example, when you can see from observing the waveform that there is a peak that needs adjusting. Amongst the actions that you will commonly use for this are:

Shift Click for adding points to an envelope.

Ctrl Click Drag for freehand drawing of envelope points and curves.

Click Drag for moving envelope segments freely up or down or envelope points in any direction.

The first of these actions is executed by holding Shift while clicking on the envelope, the third by simply clicking. These can be swapped in your Mouse Modifier (Envelope segment) preferences if you wish. In this example, we will assume that Click Drag is used to adjust segments, and Shift Click to add points.

In the example that follows, you will use the mouse to raise the volume of your Bouzouki volume envelope a little for the duration of the short instrumental break that occurs between the second and third verses. You will then draw an automation curve over part of the vocal track. This example assumes that the default mouse editing behavior settings are as shown above.


  1. Hover your mouse over the envelope, just before the start of the second instrumental break. This will be at or near 1 min 36 seconds. The mouse will change to a vertical double-headed black arrow.
  2. Hold Shift while you click the mouse on the envelope to create a point.
  3. Repeat this three times as shown (right), so that you have two points just before the break and two points just after it.
  4. Now hover the mouse anywhere between the second and third point. Click and hold down the mouse, then drag upwards to raise the volume of this envelope a little, as shown in the second illustration. Save this file.
  5. Display the track's Envelope Window and make sure that automation mode for this track is set to Read and that the Volume envelope is selected and set to Visible and Arm.
  6. Play the song. The Bouzouki volume will now be faded up for both instrumental passages and then down after them.
  7. Now select the Vox track and press V to display the Volume envelope for this track. Zoom to the passage from about 1 min 0 sec to 1 min 19 secs. We are going to make this passage a little louder.
  8. Hover the mouse just above the envelope at 1:00. Hold down the Ctrl key. The mouse cursor will change to a pencil. Still holding Ctrl drag the mouse along to about the 1:19 mark (see above right) then release the mouse. This will draw changes to the volume envelope.
  9. Remember that any excessive points that have been inserted by this action can be removed (as in the earlier exercise) using the Reduce number of points command. Save the file.

Note: Amplitude vs Fader Scaling

Right-click over a volume envelope for a context menu which includes Volume envelope scaling (under the Envelope defaults option). Available options are amplitude scaling (the default) and fader scaling, each of which will produce different results. With amplitude scaling, half as high, for example, is half as loud, whereas with fader scaling the envelope height corresponds to the track fader. Fader scaling can make editing the envelope at low levels of volume easier. Changing your preference on an envelope after points have been added will affect the sound level produced by that envelope.

You can change the default setting from amplitude scaling to volume fader scaling on the Options, Preferences, Project, Track/Send Defaults page. You should also familiarise yourself with the various options under Preferences, Editing Behavior, Envelope Display (see Chapter 22)

18.13 Using the Mouse with Envelopes[edit]

The above exercise has introduced you to some examples, but there are many other techniques and mouse tricks that can be used for manipulating and managing envelopes and their nodes. This table is a summary of the most important. For a fully comprehensive list, consult the Mouse Modifiers page of your Preferences.

In order to do this ... ,.you need to do this Select all points on envelope inside time selection. Click and drag in envelope lane (not on envelope itself) to create time selection.
Draw and shape envelope in freehand mode. Ctrl Drag anywhere on, above or below the envelope
Add a point. Shift Click on envelope
Delete envelope point. Alt Click on any envelope point
Select multiple envelope points. Hold Ctrl and click on envelope points one at a time
Select all points in an envelope. Click on any point in an envelope, then press Ctrl A
Select all points within the lasso area. Click on a point, then use right-click-drag to lasso (marquee) a portion of an envelope. Release mouse
Apply an envelope command to a selection of points. When you have several points selected, right click over any selected point
Move a point or selection of points freely. Click and drag any point in the selection.
Finely adjust a point's vertical position. Ctrl Alt Drag on any envelope point
Allow an envelope point to be moved vertically or horizontally only. Click and hold mouse on any envelope point, hold both the Ctrl and Shift keys while then dragging any envelope point either vertically or horizontally.
Reset point to center (default value). Double-click on envelope point

Most of these defaults can be changed in your Editing Behavior, Mouse Modifiers preferences settings.

18.14 Envelope Edit Mouse Modifiers[edit]

This probably won't be the very first thing you'll want to do, but after you have been working with envelopes for a while you might wish to consider changing some of the default mouse modifier settings so as better to suit your personal workflow. There are several contexts relevant here – Envelope lane (left drag and double-click), Envelope segment (left drag and double-click), and Envelope point (left drag and double-click). For example, if you manually add points to envelopes a lot, you might wish to consider changing the default behavior for Envelope double-click from Reset point to default value to the action Envelope: Insert new point at current position. If horizontal adjustment of envelope points is important to you, consider assigning Move envelope point horizontally as one of your envelope point modifier instead of just Move envelope point. Also, by default, double-clicking on an envelope's control panel will cause all points on the envelope to be selected. This too can be changed. There's more about mouse modifiers in Chapter 15.

18.15 Managing Automation Envelope Display[edit]

REAPER offers you a flexible range of options to determine how you display your automation envelopes. For any track or track you can choose to:

Display all automation envelopes in separate lanes, or

Display all automation envelopes over the media items, or

Display some envelopes in lanes and others over the media items, or

Display some envelopes and hide others, or

Hide all automation envelopes.

In the example shown here, a track is displaying three envelopes.,one each for Pan, Track Volume and the volume of a send to an FX bus. One of these,Pan,is displayed on top of the actual media items. The other two each have their own lanes. The Peaks/Waveforms preferences option to Draw faint peaks in automation envelope lanes has been enabled. The summary table explains how you use these options.

You should also check the preference (Editing Behavior, Automation) When adding volume/pan envelopes, apply trim to envelope and reset trim. Your safest option is to set this to Never to ensure that the envelope will be placed in the vertical center of the automation lane, thus leaving adequate room both above and below the envelope for manual editing.

In order to do this , ,you need to do this Hide an individual envelope Right click over the envelope and choose Hide Envelope from the menu, or in the envelope panel, click on the Hide/Clear button and choose Hide Envelope.
Display a currently hidden envelope Click on the Envelopes/Automation button in the TCP and check the Visible box for that envelope.
Change the envelope displayed in a particular lane In the TCP, right click over the envelope name and choose another parameter from the list.
Move an envelope from its own lane to over the media item(s) Right click over the envelope and disable the Show envelope in lane option, or click on the Hide/Clear button in the envelope panel and choose Move to media lane.
Move an envelope from over the media item to its own lane Right click over the envelope and enable the Show envelope in lane option
Show all visible envelopes in individual lanes In the TCP, right click over the envelope button and choose Show all visible track envelopes to envelope lanes from the menu.
Show all visible envelopes over their media item(s) In the TCP, right click on the envelope button and choose Show all visible track envelopes to media lane from the menu.
Show all active envelopes In the TCP, right click over the envelope button and choose Show all active track envelopes, or open the Envelopes/Automation window and click on Show all active.
Hide all envelopes In the TCP, right click over the envelope button and choose Hide all track envelopes, or open the Envelopes/Automation window and click on Hide all.

18.16 The Envelope Panel Controls[edit]

An envelope displayed in a lane can have its behavior and characteristics modified from within the TCP, using its fader, its buttons and its context menu. For example:

In Trim/Read mode, use the horizontal fader to raise or lower envelope for its entire length or for a particular time selection. For example, with no time selection active, sliding a pan envelope's fader control left would cause panning for the entire track to be moved further to the left (maintaining the relative movement between existing points). If a time selection is active, then the envelope would be adjusted only within that time selection.

Use the BP button to toggle bypass on and off.

Right clicking over the envelope name in the TCP produces a menu which includes the following:

A list of all available envelopes for this track (standard track and send parameters plus any FX parameters). Choose one of these to change the envelope displayed in this lane.

Various show/hide envelope options.

A list of automation modes: this is one way to change a track's automation mode.

18.17 Managing and Manipulating Envelopes[edit]

The Envelope Point and Envelope Segment right-click context menus both contain commands and options that are there to help you manage and manipulate your envelopes. Which of these two menus will appear depends on whether your mouse is hovering over an actual point or over a segment when the right button is clicked.

In the table below, those commands which are on the Envelope Point menu only are indicated by (P).

Command Explanation Envelope defaults, Default point shape Sets default shape for new envelopes. The available shapes are Linear, Smooth, Fast Start, Fast End, Square and Bezier. These are explained in more detail shortly.
Set point value,(P) Displays the Set Envelope Point Value dialog box. Can be used to change the value, position, and/or shape of the current point. Optionally, you can assign Double Click (under Preferences, Mouse Modifiers, Envelope Point) to Open envelope point editor.
Set point shape (P) Changes the shape of the current point. The six available shapes are Linear, Square, Smooth, Fast Start, Fast End and Bezier. These are explained in more detail shortly.
Set shape for selected points Allows you to choose a shape for multiple envelope points.The six available shapes are Linear, Square, Smooth, Fast Start, Fast End and Bezier. These are explained in more detail shortly.
Select all points Selects all points in current envelope.
Unselect all points Unselects all points in current envelope.
Select all points in time selection If a time selection is currently active, all points on this envelope that fall within the time selection will be selected.
Copy points Copies all points in current selection into clipboard. Note: To apply a command to an existing selection of envelope points, you should hold Shift while you right click over the envelope. This ensures that the selected points remain selected when the context menu is displayed.
Cut points Cuts all points in current selection into clipboard.
Delete point (P) Deletes the envelope point.
Delete selected points Deletes all envelope points in current selection.
Delete points in time selection If a time selection is currently active, all points that fall within the time selection will be deleted. Shown here is a selection of points before and after using this command.
Invert selected points Causes all selected points to be inverted relative to their neutral position. For example, a point on a Pan envelope set at 50% left would be changed to 50% right. When items such as Volume use a logarithmic scale, the calculation is less obvious.
Reset select points to zero/center Sets all selected points back to a neutral position.
Reduce number of points , Reduces the number of envelope points within a time selection or for the whole envelope. This has already been explained in detail.
Arm envelope for recording Toggles armed status of envelope on and off.
Show envelope in lane A toggle command which moves the envelope into or out from its own envelope lane.
Hide envelope Hides the envelope but keeps it active
Bypass envelope Toggles an envelope,s bypass status.
Clear or remove envelope ... Clears all points on an envelope, restores it to a straight horizontal line. You will be asked if you wish also to remove the envelope.

18.18 Envelope Shapes[edit]

Envelopes can be any of six shapes,Linear, Square, Slow Start/End, Fast Start, Fast End or Bezier. To change the shape of an existing curve, right click over the envelope point, then choose Set Point Shape, then the required shape from the menu. The examples below illustrate the different shapes:



,Slow Start/End

Fast Start

Fast End


Shapes other than Square are usually best used for graduated parameters, such as volume and pan. Square envelopes are best used for items with on/off parameters (such as bypass or mute), to ensure an exact transition at the required point.

You can specify your preferred default envelope point shape type from the Options, Preferences, Project, Track/Send Defaults window, as shown on the right.

18.19 Envelopes in Track Templates[edit]

Whenever you save a track (or selection of tracks) as a track template (Track, Save tracks as track template command) there is an option in the dialog box to Include envelopes in tenplate.

18.20 Envelope Preferences[edit]

REAPER's envelopes preferences fall into several different categories within your Options, Preferences window. These are explained in more detail in Chapter 22. Meanwhile, it's worth taking note of the following.

The Appearance pages of your Options, Preferences window includes a number of useful options for determining how your envelopes are presented on screen. Turning these options on can improve clarity. In particular, pay attention to the options to:

Show solid edge on time selection highlight (Appearance page). Makes the boundaries of the time selection more obvious.

Show guide lines when editing (Appearance page). Facilitates editing.

Draw faint peaks in automation lanes (Peaks/Waveforms page). Helps to relate an envelope's position in its own lane to the track's volume level.

Fill automation envelopes (Appearance page): this faintly colors the area below the envelope.

The Editing Behavior, Automation page (see Chapter 22) is another important place to go to. It gives you the option, for example, to Automatically add envelopes when tweaking parameters in automation write mode. This enables you to create envelopes on the fly without having to select the required parameters from any menu. Be careful when enabling this: you can end up with any number of envelopes that you didn't want!

Finally, a number of the options on the Project, Track/Send Defaults have something to say about envelopes. These include:

Whether to have any envelopes (such as Pan and Volume) automatically displayed for all new tracks.

Your choice of default envelope shape for new points.

Your choice of default automation mode for new tracks.

Whether new envelopes are to be automatically armed.

18.21 Using an Envelopes Toolbar[edit]

Chapter 15 explains in detail how to create custom toolbars. If you work a lot with envelopes then this is one area where you can achieve real productivity benefits. Shown here is an example of a simple Envelopes toolbar that you could create. Listed below are the actions attached to each of the icons in the example shown.

Automation: Set track automation mode to trim/read

Automation: Set track automation mode to write

Automation: Set track automation mode to touch

Automation: Set track automation mode to touch/read

Envelope: Insert 4 envelope points at time selection

Envelope: Delete all points in time selection

Envelope: Clear envelope

Envelope: Unselect all points

Envelope: Toggle display of all visible envelopes in lanes for tracks

Envelope: Show all envelopes for all tracks

Envelope: Hide all envelopes for all tracks

Envelope: Show all envelopes for tracks

Envelope: Hide all envelops for tracks

Global automation over-ride: No over-ride (set automation modes per track)

Global automation over-ride: All automation in trim/read mode

Global automation over-ride: All automation in read mode

Keep in mind that this is only an example. The same commands and actions that are most useful to one person might not also be most useful to another. In the end, you must decide for yourself.

18.22 Moving and Copying Envelopes with Items[edit]

You can choose whether or not to move and copy automation envelopes with media items by setting the option to Move envelope points with media items on or off. This is accessed by right clicking on the Envelope tool on the main REAPER toolbar, or by choosing Envelope points from REAPER's Options menu. You can use the Actions editor to assign a shortcut key to toggle this action on and off.

If this option is turned off, then envelopes will not be moved or copied with the media items.

If this option is turned on, then the envelopes will be moved or copied with the media items.

An example of this is illustrated on the right. A selected portion of the media item on the top track is being copied to the track below it using the Ctrl drag and drop method.

You can also specify options for Add edge points (at the start and end of the time selection) when moving envelope points with items, ripple editing or inserting time, and/or moving multiple envelope points.

In the example shown, not only is the envelope copied with the media item, but also (because the option to show guidelines is also on) there are guide lines displayed which can help you when positioning the item that you are copying.

18.23 Automation with Trim Volume Envelopes[edit]

The Trim Volume is a special kind of envelope that can be used to fine tune or ,tweak, a track's volume envelope. This might be the case, for example, if you wish to experiment with different volume levels before committing them to the volume envelope. Some points to note about trim envelopes are:

It is not a track parameter control envelope: it does not correspond to any track control and hence cannot be armed or written in write, touch or latch mode.

While it is possible to use a trim envelope on its own, i.e. without also having a volume envelope, this practice is not generally recommended.

The trim volume's purpose and use can be better explained if we consider a simple example.


In this first illustration, a volume envelope has been added to lower the vox level during part of the song.

On playback, however, we find that perhaps the occasional phrase or word seems to be slightly buried behind an instrumental mix. However, we are happy with this mix and don't want to change it or compress it.

A trim envelope has been added which further adjusts the volume of this track (as shown).

At this stage you could say. ,Job done!,, but you might instead want to take it one step further, for example, to cement the trim changes on to the track's volume envelope.

REAPER includes the following two actions:

Track: Apply trim envelope to volume envelope, clear trim envelope, and

Track: Apply volume envelope to trim envelope, clear volume envelope.

In the above example, you could run the first of these actions to produce the result shown above. The trim envelope could then either be removed altogether, or used to again make further changes to the volume envelope.

18.24 Locking Envelopes[edit]

When you are satisfied that your envelopes have been finalised, you can lock them all in order to prevent any accidental changes or deletions from taking place.

Pressing Shift L (or right-clicking on the Lock toolbar button) will cause the Lock Settings window to be displayed (see right).

You should then select the Item envelopes and/or Track envelopes options, along with any other aspects that you also require to be locked. You can reverse these settings at any time.

Note that even with your envelopes options selected, locking will only be applied if you also select the Enable locking option. The keyboard shortcut L can be used to toggle lock enabled status on and off.

18.25 Automation with Grouped Track Parameters[edit]

If you have created track groupings in which you have defined relationships between various parameters, you can ensure that those relationships are maintained (or not, as you wish) when automation envelopes are being written. This is done using the group Automation Mode column on the Track Grouping Matrix.

As when the track parameters themselves are grouped, the automation mode status for each track in the group can be set to master, slave, or both master and slave. Here are examples. In each case, the grouping is similar to that used in the exercise file All Through The Night GROUPS.RPP. If you completed those examples it might help you to open that file now.


In this example, both guitar tracks are set to act as both master and slave in automation mode and both volume envelopes are armed (indicated by the colored circular button to the left of the envelope name, Volume).

You can set either track to write, touch or (as in this example) latch mode and the other will change with it. Any automation movements will then be written to both tracks (see above).

Had the automation envelope been armed on only one of the tracks then the automation would have been written to that track only and not to the other.

18.26 Automation with Track Sends[edit]

Automation can be applied to other controls beside Volume and Pan, such as Sends and FX parameters. In this example, we will create a Send, then use an envelope to control it.


  1. First, we are going to create an FX Bus Track, then we will use an envelope to vary the level sent to that FX Bus Track from each of the guitar tracks.
  2. Create a new track and name it FX Bus. Display the FX Chain for this track, and add the FX JS Guitar/chorus. Close the FX window.
  3. Select the track Gtr Body and drag and drop from its ROUTE button to the FX Bus to create a send. Set send volume and pan levels as shown (above).
  4. Select the track Gtr Neck and display the routing window for this track. Create a send to the FX Bus as a send and set send volume to ,10dB and pan to 65% Right.
  5. Now display the Envelopes window for the Gtr Body track. Set mode to Trim/Read. Notice that envelopes are available for your sends. Make sure that FX Bus Send Volume is selected, visible and armed.
  6. Close this window. An envelope lane for this send will now be visible just below track.
  7. Hover the mouse over any part of the envelope, click and drag down until the envelope is set to about ,12dB.
  8. We are now going to increase the chorus effect, starting just before the second verse.
  9. Add a point at about the 60 second mark (Shift Click). Add another point at about 2:30.
  10. Hover the mouse over the envelope just after this second point. Click and drag up until the envelope is set to about ,7dB. Release the mouse. This is shown below.
  11. Set automation mode for this track to Read. Play the song. If you think the Chorus effect is too much, hover the mouse over the envelope, round about 1 minute 30 secs, then click and hold the left mouse button while you drag the envelope back down a little.
  12. Now repeat steps 5. to 10. for the track Gtr Neck. Don,t forget to save the file.

18.27 Automation with FX Parameters[edit]

You can create automation envelopes for any parameters for almost any JS, VST, VSTi, DX or DXi plug-in that has been added to any track or item take FX chain. This section focuses mostly on track FX, though the same techniques can also be applied to take/item FX. For example, you can use automation envelopes to vary the level of compression applied to a drum track, or to add more warmth to a vocal take at those times when it is needed. There are three main ways of creating envelopes for your FX parameters:

Select those parameters for which you wish to add envelopes from the Envelopes window. You may need to click on the small + button next to a plug-ins name to display a list of its automatable parameters.

Right click over background area of any existing envelope lane in the TCP and select the required item from the FX parameters menu. All automatable parameters for all plug-ins in the track,s FX chain will be listed on the menu (see right).

The third method is to create the parameter envelope from within the plug-ins own window This is probably the most useful method because in many cases, this will be the environment in which you are likely to find yourself working when you decide that you would like to create the envelope. The standard procedure for doing this is quite simple:

  1. Touch the required parameter with your mouse.
  2. Click on the Param button then choose Show track envelope from the menu.

Most FX can be automated in this way, but be warned that especially with some older plug-ins this might not be possible.


  1. Open the FX Chain window for the track Vox.
  2. Add the JS LOSER/4BandEQ to this chain. Set the first Frequency level to 180 (as shown).
  3. Solo the Vox track and play the song.
  4. As you do so, hold down the Alt key and gently increase the Low volume level (the top fader). Notice how the sound changes and becomes warmer. Release the mouse, and the level will snap back to 0.0.
  5. We are going to add an automation envelope to increase this level for the phrase All Through The Night at the end of the song, from about the 2:14 mark. This will warm up that phrase, but also make it louder. Therefore, we will also need to add use another envelope to lower the volume to compensate.
  6. Adjust the horizontal and vertical zooms of the Vox track, so that you can clearly see the area that you are working with.
  7. Click on the Low dB fader in the EQ then click on the Param button. Choose Show track envelope from the menu (see right). The envelope will be shown. Unless you have changed the default preferences, this will be shown in its lane.
  8. Mark as the time selection the last part of the song. Use the rotary fader for this parameter (in the TCP) to raise this envelope in the time selection by about 6 dB.
  9. With the time selection still active, use this same technique to lower the fader for the volume envelope by about 2 dB (see below).
  10. Play the file. Save it.

Tip 1: To automatically create an envelope for any FX parameter adjusted on the fly during playback, enable the Preferences, Editing behavior, Automation option Automatically add envelopes when tweaking parameters in automation write modes, then set track automation mode to touch, latch or write.

Tip 2: To add a parameter adjust/control button for any FX parameter to the track's control panel simply select the UI box in the track's envelopes window. This allows you to create or modify envelopes on the fly without needing to open the FX window.

Tip 3: If you use Ctrl Shift Drag to copy an FX from one track or item to another, then any and all FX parameter envelopes associated with that FX will be copied with it.

18.28 FX Parameter Automation in Learn Mode[edit]

If you are using REAPER with a control surface, such as a Behringer BCR2000, you can use it in Write, Latch or Touch mode to create automation envelopes for FX parameters. You can use the device,s rotaries, faders or buttons (as appropriate) for this purpose. Each device is different, but here is an example:

  1. Within the plug-in window, click on the parameter, then on Param then on Learn.
  2. Tweak the button, knob, or fader on the control device. A confirmation message will appear in the Command field.
  3. Select a CC mode: usually this will be absolute or one of the relative options. Consult the device's documentation: if in doubt, try Absolute to begin with. For smoother operation, choose Soft takeover. Toggle mode is also available: this allows FX parameters to be toggled on/off with a single mapping.
  4. Optionally, select Enable only when effect configuration is focussed. This allows you to assign the same control to another parameter in a different plug-in.
  5. When the MIDI/OSC Learn dialog box is shown, tweak the control on the external device, select the option Arm envelope for selected parameter and click on OK. Depending on the parameter

You can now use the control device to write your parameter changes to the envelope during project playback. In Trim/Read mode you can still use the control device to manually adjust the parameter - see Chapter 12.

18.29 Automating a VST with MIDI CC Messages[edit]

Depending on what gear you have, there are two other further methods you can possibly use to send MIDI CC messages to automate a VST's parameters:

  1. Send MIDI CC from a MIDI source (such as a MIDI keyboard controller, a MIDI track, ReaControlMIDI, or an FX which outputs MIDI CC messages) directly to the VST. In some VSTs MIDI CC messages are hard-wired to specific controls (e.g. LinPlug's Alpha), in others (e.g. AmpliTube, SampleTank 2 and Kontakt) the mapping is assignable.
  2. Send MIDI CC from a MIDI source to MIDItoReaControlPath (S&M). This injects the MIDI CC messages into the Reaper automation path and onwards to a track VST Parameter Envelope for which MIDI Learn has been used to map the CC message to that envelope. To learn more about (and download) this plug-in, go to

18.30 Automating FX Parameters on the Fly[edit]

If you turn on the Editing Behavior, Automation preferences option to Automatically add and arm envelopes when tweaking parameters in automation write modes, then for any track set to write, latch or touch an automation envelope will be created for you as you tweak the parameter settings during playback.

This feature can be used in conjunction with your control surface. Note that any changes to these parameters that are made on the screen with your mouse will still be applied, as will any changes made using your control surface. Be careful, though, or you could end up creating a whole heap of unwanted envelopes!

Note: When you finish recording automation envelopes in this way, change Automation mode to Read or Trim/Read, otherwise every parameter you tweak will create another envelope, whether you want it to or not.

18.31 Automation with Item Take and Take FX Parameters[edit]

Individual media items and takes can be given their own Volume, Pan, Pitch and Mute envelopes. One way to do this is to right click over the item, choose the Take command, and then select your required envelope from the menu. Alternately, click on the item's envelope button (if visible) and make your selection from there. Item buttons can be selected to be displayed from the Appearance, Media page of your Preferences window.

Envelopes with Media Items

In the example shown on the right, a pan envelope has been added to our media item, using the Take, Take pan envelope command. The item is panned first away from the center then back towards it.

The envelope can be edited with points added, moved, and so on, just like any other. You can right-click over any point or segment of a take envelope to access the context menus. You can also create different envelopes for different takes of the same item.

Envelopes with Multiple Takes

In the example shown here, separate Pan envelopes have been added to the both takes for the last verse of a song, with different FX. The combination of the different panning and the touch of ReaVerbate added to one of the takes can make for an interesting vocal effect when the Play all takes option (media item properties) is enabled for this item.

To copy item take envelopes from one item to another on the same track, use Ctrl drag from envelopes button to envelopes button. To move envelopes, use Alt drag. Display of these buttons can be enabled on the Appearance, Media page of your Preferences window.

Envelopes with Per Take FX Parameters

Parameters on FX that have been added to individual takes can also be automated. These can be edited manually, with points being added by hand in trim/read mode, or recorded in write, latch or touch mode. The procedures for manually editing or write/recording item/take FX parameter envelopes is essentially the same as those used with track FX parameters. Parameters can be selected for automation in either of two ways:

From the media item's Envelopes for takes window. To display this, click on the automation envelopes button (if visible), or you can choose Take, Take envelopes... from the take's right-click menu, or

Display the track's FX chain (Shift E), select the required FX, then select the required parameter envelope from the Param button menu. Note that Learn mode is also supported.

Tips: Any FX chain can be copied from one media item to another by dragging and dropping the FX from the first item's FX chain to the second item. An entire chain can be copied by dragging and dropping the item's FX button.

Envelopes can then be copied from one media item to another by dragging and dropping the envelopes button.

Reminder! You can choose which item buttons you do or do not want to be displayed from the Appearance, Media page of your Options, Preferences settings.

18.32 Automation with Hardware Output Sends[edit]

If you are using hardware output sends with any of your tracks, you will find that you can automate the Volume, Pan and Mute parameters for these sends.

These items will appear in the track,s envelopes window as shown on the right.

In the example shown, we have a send from Track 1 to an Audio Hardware Output. We can now create an envelope to control the volume of this send.

We can go one better than this. We might wish to use fader movements to shape this envelope, but without using Write mode for any other envelopes that we may also have created. This can be done from within the track,s routing window.

Take a look at the screen shot below. The Automation mode has been set to Touch from within the routing window, just for that one envelope.

You could now play your track, adjusting the audio hardware output send fader in the window shown above to adjust the send volume level and create your envelope.

You can also do this with Track Send envelopes.

18.33 Automating Automation[edit]

Don,t forget that REAPER,s Action List capabilities really do put a lot of power and control at your fingertips. For example, if there,s an automation task or sequence of tasks that you use frequently, you can allocate a keyboard shortcut to that sequence.

For example, suppose that you often need for the current track to display and select, ready for automation, a volume envelope, and then select Write automation mode for that track.

You could use the Actions, Show action list, command to open the Actions window and create a custom action similar to that shown. You could then assign a keyboard shortcut to that custom action, or add it to one of your toolbars. Refer back to Chapter 15 for more information about custom actions, keyboard shortcuts, and custom toolbars.

18.34 Actions for Managing Envelopes[edit]

In Chapter 15 you were introduced to some of REAPER's actions, and how you can use the Actions Editor and Actions List to assign these actions to keyboard shortcuts and/or custom toolbars.

This list includes very many actions for managing envelopes, including locking/unlocking envelopes, toggling the active status of various envelopes, and selecting specific envelopes. Explore the Actions List for more!

18.35 Automating the Metronome[edit]

You can automate the Metronome behavior,for example, to get it to play only at the exact times that you require. To do this, simply create a new track and use the command Insert, Click Source to insert a media item into your file. You can then treat this click track like any other track,for example, add a mute envelope to mute certain passages, and so on.

To modify any of the click track properties, right click over the track and choose Source Properties from the menu.

For example, you can change the BPM setting, or use your own sample files to create the beats.

18.36 Tempo/Time Signature and Play Speed Envelopes[edit]

In Chapter 10, you learnt how to change time signature and/or tempo within a project. Another (and perhaps more intuitive) way of doing this is to use the Tempo/Time Signature Envelope. To display this envelope in the main REAPER arrange window:

  1. From REAPER's main menu choose View, Tempo envelope.
  2. Set the Automation mode for the Master Track to Read. .

The Tempo Map envelope range (bpm) can be set in your Preferences, on the Editing Behavior, Envelope Display page (Chapter 22). There you can also specify whether you wish to allow partial measures.

When the Tempo Map is visible, an envelope appears on the Master Track in arrange view. This envelope can be modified like any other – you can add points (Shift click, or to draw freehand use Ctrl drag), move them, delete them, adjust them, etc. However, the master tempo envelope cannot be modified by freehand drawing. Moreover, editing multiple points at once on this envelope causes each point to be adjusted pro rata, not by a constant BPM value.

With each envelope point a tempo/time signature marker is also inserted on the timeline - editing their values has the same effect as editing the envelope points. If you move them, the points move with them (and vice versa). REAPER's Actions List also includes an action Adjust entire envelope tempo... This opens a dialog box which offers you the options of adjusting the entire envelope by a percentage or by a set number of beats per minute.

You can also add to the Master a Playrate envelope which can be used to automatically speed up or slow down the playback of your project. This envelope is applied to all tracks, audio and MIDI. To do this:

  1. Click on the Envelopes button in the Track Master. This displays the Envelopes window for the Master. Now tick the item Playrate. Make sure this item is marked as both Visible and Armed.
  2. Close this window.

18.37 Automation Items[edit]

REAPER's automation items allow you to define an entire automation envelope or a section of an envelope (including video processor envelopes) as an automation item, and then later apply that automation item to any media item or items in the same or any other project. The concept itself is not complicated, but in practise there are many options and variations in the ways in which you can apply it. Before exploring these, let's start by looking at a practical example, using a low frequency oscillator to shape an envelope.

Example This example is designed to introduce you to the basic concept of automation items. You'll find a more comprehensive list of features in the table that follows.

  1. First, we import a sample into a new track in (in this case) a new project file. We then extend the looped sample so that the pattern is repeated as many times as required (as shown, top right).
  2. We now want to add a low frequency oscillator to this item. In order to do so, we first select the item and add a volume envelope.
  3. We then make a time selection to cover the period of the original sample. Next, we right-click over the envelope and choose Automation items then New automation item from the menu (as shown above right).

This creates an automation item (with a title bar at the bottom). We right-click over the title bar and choose Properties to open the Properties dialog box. We adjust the parameters as we wish. An example is shown here. This creates points and defines the envelope shape. We close this box when finished.

  1. We can position the mouse just inside the item name area's right boundary (at the bottom of the item), then click and drag to extend the automation all the way to the end of the item, as shown below.

Our automation item now contains (in this case) four identical segments. Making a change to any one of the segments will automatically cause the same changes to be made also to the other three segments. These changes could include, for example, edits made manually, or adjustments to the Automation Item Properties, including LFO parameters. The next couple of pages explain automation items and how to use them in more detail. Keep in mind that when working with automation items normal windows techniques apply – e.g. Click to select, Ctrl Click to build a selection, and Shift Click to select a range of contiguous items.

Understanding Low Frequency Oscillation (LFO)[edit]

LFO is an electronic signal (usually below 20 Hz) that is used to create a rhythmic pulse. It can be used to modulate synthesizers and audio material in the production of electronic music, for example to create effects such as tremolo, phasing and vibrato. LFO controls include: LFO Shape: None, Parametric, Triangle, Shape or Square. Frequency: the number of times the shape occurs within the item. Baseline: raises or lowers the envelope baseline. Amplitude: determines the depth of the modulation: the higher the amplitude, the greater the curve. Skew controls: these vary the intensity of each occurrence within the item.

Working with Automation Items
In order to do this... Do this...
Create new empty automation item on envelope Make time selection, right-click within time selection on envelope, choose Automation items, New automation item or Hold Alt while dragging from left to right just below the envelope.
Create new automation item when writing automation to envelope Enable the Preferences option (Editing behavior, Automation) to Always create new automation item when writing automation.
Insert a previously saved automation item on to an envelope Position cursor. Right-click on envelope, choose Automation items, Load, then Load... Select item name and click on Open.
Add a LFO to an automation item, and/or change other properties Double-click on the item's title bar (at bottom of item) to open the Automation Item Properties dialog box. Select LFO shape (parametric, triangle, saw or square) and adjust other parameters as required (see below). Close dialog when finished.
Convert existing envelope into automation item Add points to envelope. Make time selection, right-click on envelope within selection, choose Automation items, New automation item.
Convert item to ordinary envelope segment Right-click on the item's title bar, choose Delete automation item preserve points.
Edit automation item Add, move, delete points etc. in exactly the same way as with any envelope. To change LFO and other settings, double-click on item's title bar to open the Automation Item Properties window.
Name or rename an item Open Automation Item Properties, type the name.
Move automation item Click and drag left or right on the item's title bar, or up or down to another envelope, on the same or a different track or item.
Move item contents Hold Alt while dragging item's title bar left or right.
Copy automation item to another location Ctrl click (to copy unpooled) or Ctrl Alt click (to copy pooled) on title bar, and drag to destination on same or another envelope, on any track, or Select item, then Alt click drag below envelope at required location.
Unpool automation item Choose Remove from pool from item's right-click context menu.
Use automation items with FX parameters Insert FX (e.g. compressor or delay) into the FX chain and add a parameter envelope in the normal way. Create and apply items as per usual.
Extend/copy automation item contents Click and drag from just inside the item's title bar right edge to the right, or from left edge to the left.
Extend automation item, collecting existing points Ctrl click from edge of title bar outwards. As the item is extended, existing envelope points are collected into it.
Join automation items together Ctrl click on title bars of all items to be joined, to select them all. Right-click over any title bar in selection and choose Glue. The items will be consolidated into a single item, which will also include any envelope portions between the glued items. Shown here is an example – before and after.
Loop/unloop an item Enable/disable loop option in Automation Item Properties dialog.
Stretch/shrink item Alt click drag left/right from item title bar edge.
Save automation item Right-click on the item's title bar, choose Save..., select folder, type a name and click Save.
Delete automation item Right-click on item title bar, choose


Mute automation item Right-click on the item’s title bar, choose Mute (toggle).
Split at cursor position Right-click on the item's title bar, choose Split.
Duplicate automation item as pooled Right-click on the item's title bar, choose Create pooled duplicate. Any edits made to any item in the pool will be made to all items in the pool.
Duplicate automation as unpooled Right-click on the item's title bar, choose Create unpooled duplicate. Each item can be modified independently of any/all other items in the pool.
Use multiple automation items simultaneously on the same envelope By creating multiple automation items and dragging them around as required, you can create situations where two or more automation items can be used simultaneously on the same envelope.


  • To ignore snap with any of the above click-drag actions, hold also Shift while performing the action.
  • The main difference between pooled and unpooled items lies in how they behave when edited. An unpooled item is completely independent and can be edited without any other item being affected. Changes made to any pooled item, however, will be applied to all items in its pool. However …
  • When editing pooled items via the Automation Items Properties dialog, changes made to parameters included in the All pooled copies box will be applied to all items in the pool. There is also an option you can tick for Baseline/amplitude to affect pooled copies. Other changes made within the Automation Item Properties box will only be applied to the individual item being edited.
  • If the option to Move envelope points with media item (Options menu) is enabled, then when a media item is cut, copied, pasted, moved, duplicated, etc., any automation items attached to it will be moved with it.. If the portion of the media item includes only part of an automation item, then only that part will be moved or copied with the automation item.
  • Where automation items exist within regions, they will be moved and copied with the regions.

Automation Item Preferences, Actions, Mouse Modifiers and Options[edit]

Preferences Automation Item (AI) Preferences, Actions, Mouse Modifiers, Options – and the Media Explorer Preferences The Editing Behavior, Automation section of Preferences (Chapter 22) includes automation item options to manage looping, pooled item behavior, and underlying envelope behavior.


The actions list includes various automation item commands and actions, including:

  • Options: Loop new automation items by default. (toggle)
  • Options: Automation item baseline/amplitude edits affect pooled copies
  • Options: Automation items connect to the underlying envelope on both sides
  • Options: Automation items connect to the underlying envelope on the right side
  • Options: Automation items do not connect to the underlying envelope
  • Options: Remove points from underlying envelope when creating automation items
  • Options: Trim content behind automation items when editing
  • Envelope: Add edge points to automation item
  • Envelope: Convert all project automation to automation items
  • Envelope: Enable/disable envelope outside of automation items (AIs)
  • Envelope: Enable/disable envelope outside of AIs for all envelopes on selected track
  • Envelope: Enable/disable envelope outside of AIs for all envelopes in project
  • Envelope: Enable/disable envelope outside of AIs for all visible track envelopes
  • Envelope: Mute automation items
  • Envelope: Glue automation items
  • Envelope: Set loop points to automation item
  • Envelope: Set time selection to automation item
  • Envelope: Split automation items
  • Envelope: Toggle automation item loop.

Moreover. all of the commands described in the above table are available as actions in REAPER's Actions Editor and as such can be assigned to keyboard shortcuts, toolbar icons, and/or custom menus. See Chapter 15. Other actions for options not on the menu include toggle actions to control underlying envelope behavior.

Mouse Modifiers[edit]

REAPER's mouse modifiers include the contexts Automation item and Automation item edge. All of the mouse actions described in the above table are listed there, as well as some further options. You can change default mouse modifier assignments, rearranging modifier key behavior as you wish. There is also a mouse modifiers preferences option Edits affect all pooled items at the same position. Also, the Envelope lane mouse modifier left drag context includes several actions and options for drawing copies of selected automation items.

Options Menu[edit]

In addition. the main Options menu contains three options to determine how automation items interact with underlying envelopes. These are:

  • Do not attach to the underlying envelope
  • Attach to the underlying envelope on right side
  • Attach to the underlying envelope on both sides.

The Media Explorer[edit]

Automation Items can be managed from the Media Explorer like other media items. Simply navigate to the correct directory to preview. Right click over any item name for a menu of options for inserting into the project (see right).