Can't get out of preferences

I am new to Ardour and I Googled, “How to get out of preferences” and didn’t find any results. Even if I close Ardour and open it again, preferences are still there. Here is a screenshot:

I am on a new install of Ubuntu Studio 19.10.

Menu > Window > Editor > Show …

…or use the buttons “Editor”, “MIxer” top-right, or cycle Editor/Mixer/Preference like Tabs (Ctrl + Page-up/down) or use any of the keyboard shortcuts e.g. Alt+M to toggle to Editor/Mixer…


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I was confused by this when first using Ardour. In the beginning I just assumed it was a bug with my window manager or similar. When it was never “fixed” I realized it was deliberate :wink: Is there a good reason why there aren’t traditional window buttons? If so, would it make better sense to show preferences as a button on the upper right like editor and mixer so it is clear it is a toggle/cycle? I realize that there would be vertical space issues with a third option…

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That makes a few of us. Mixbus uses a traditional floating window for preferences, and whenever I go back to Ardour it trips me up every time even though I know how it works. Not a major issue but because it’s unconventional it feels like a usability oversight.

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It’s just a different initial default. You can detach/attach the preference window as tab, changes are remembered.

When you launch Ardour 5.x the first time, the Preference Window is attached as Tab. While when you launch Mixbus 5 or Ardour 6/git the first time it’s a floating window.

Personally I find it very convenient to have it as a tab and cycle with Ctrl - Page up/down. That key-shortcut is the same for cycling browser-tabs or terminal tabs.


This is excellent news, especially if final release of Ardour 6 will default to floating window.

This is definitely not obvious for regular DAW users. Just thinking for new users who might get stuck on the inconsistency.

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Took me a while to figure out, but now I see! Go to Window > Preferences > Detach. That’s great, I somehow overlooked that setting.


Thank you for your replies and helping me out! I was able to get back to the editor.

While I will not argue it is not ‘conventional’ and might be a tripping point for new users, I think I like it being a tab as well. For one thing it owuld prevent some issues that my students have with dialogs and fullscreen window management on OS X, but I just like it from a standpoint of usability when the software is fullscreen, it means I don’t have to worry about dialogs hidden behind the window as much.

It may take some training or perhaps better identification of paths forward for users, but I do like the option.

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I do think it would be good to keep the tab option. But personally, I adjust preferences only rarely (e.g., once every few years) once they are set up, whereas I cycle between the Edit and Mixer tabs many times per day. I can see where it would be useful to have it as a tab if you have multiple users, so it’s easy for them to adjust preferences. I guess the other issue is that it’s not obvious that it’s a tab; it doesn’t look like a tab.

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when the editor window is re-attached it is minimized and the user needs to go to ‘Editor/Show Editor’ or click on the Editor button. The detach works as expected but it’s confusing when there is a re-attachment, it would be a good idea if the Editor can still be left visible as it becomes re-attached…

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