keybinding, move playhead, track focus


This problem concerns Ardour 3.5.3386, and worked properly in previous versions.

I seem to be having a very hard time using key bindings to move the playhead. Although I have set things up to move the playhead to the next or previous region-boundaries using the left and right arrows, the track focus is always lost (even by clicking on a region in the track in that I might be editing) and the result is that by hitting the right arrow, the playhead is moved to the end of some other region in some other track that isn’t in focus either.

If anyone has a solution to this I’d be grateful.


3.5.3386 is not a release of Ardour. Please report back after you have used 4.0, preferably from (either or

I installed ardour-4.0.0
My problem persists. Just to be clear, it seems to be more to do with the fact that the track I’m editing looses its focus than with key binding…
If I click a track in the Track Contols Area, it turns red and the playhead moves to region boundaries following the keyboard arrow keys as expected. If I then click on a region in this track to edit it (split for example), the track in the Track Contols Area returns to its original blue/grey color and the move-playhead behavior no longer follows the region-boundaries in this track but of some other track in the song… I guess what I’d expect is that the track stays focused as long as I’m editing it.


Actually that is likely very intentional. For instance consider this workflow (Which I have used a lot) which is I want to line up two regions, or edit one region based off a second region on a different track. We will call these $TARGET (The region I am editing) and $SOURCE (The region that is the source of the edit).

If we follow your method, if we click on the $TARGET region, the $SOURCE track would lose focus in favor of the $TARGET track. This means I can’t move my playhead (Set to edit point) to match the $SOURCE region precisely anymore, and I would not be able to edit as cleanly.

Compare to current, if I select the track the $SOURCE is on, then click on the $TARGET region I can now cleanly edit to match the two.

Now what you bring up, that this does not answer, is why is the track losing focus. My first thought would be that if the track loses focus, things like region boundaries should now be session wide, meaning any boundary on any track. But I am not sure if that is correct behavior honestly if a track had focus. It isn’t something I have ever worried about as my workflow leans more towards the above example.


First, lets clear up terminology. Focus is a very specific term in software with a GUI, and describes some aspect of the GUI that is the target for keyboard commands (full term: “keyboard focus”). Keyboard focus doesn’t get used to determine the target of an operation, at least not most of the time. Rather, the target of an operation is, for the most part, the currently selected objects.

Ardour makes region and track selection mutually exclusive. You cannot have a track selected AND 1 or more regions selected, because it makes it ambiguous what the target of the operation is. What would it mean, for example, to select a track and a region in another track and then press the delete key? We have been through several iterations of the relationship between track and region selection, and every single one of them has had issues for one or more workflows. The current design appears (for now) to have the least downsides for the workflows we’ve identified so far.

If no track is selected, the playhead does not advance following “some other track”, but all tracks. There is possibly an argument to be made that if there are regions selected, it should use only the tracks those regions are in, to better enable the workflow you’re describing.

Thanks for the prompt responses.
Sorry for the “focus”, I should have said “selected” and of course I realize that the playhead moves from left to right following all tracks when the song is playing. What I wanted was to be able to “rewind” to the beginning of the region I am currently editing with a single keyboard stoke.
I can confirm the in 3.1 this was possible and by selecting a track it stayed selected while working on regions in that track.
Never mind, I’ll try and find another way of doing this.

Will auto return mode do what you want?
Set playhead to start of region, play, stop… playhead returns to start of region.
I have only recently got into the habit of using it, great when working on a tricky edit.

Thanks anahata, I need jack and it seems that return mode won’t work with jack

You do not need JACK for auto-return mode. And for 4.x you do not need JACK at all.

I believe I need jack for hydrogen