I’ve got a twitch, an involuntary “tick.”

But it wasn’t always involuntary. In fact, I used to be twitch-free. But I trained myself over the years to have this twitch.

Now you may be wondering why someone would willingly develop a twitch. What kind of idiot is this guy? …you may be saying to yourself.

A. Yes, I’m an idiot, but that’s not the point.

B. My twitch has saved my butt more times than I could count.

Do you have a twitch?

Save Yourself

“Saving” your files isn’t a new concept. Ever since you first used Microsoft Word, one of the first things you had to learn was how to save your files. You learned the difference between “Save” and “Save As” and all that fun stuff, but I bet they didn’t teach you the twitch.

I probably don’t need to tell you this, but it’s immensely important that you save your work, and save often. It only takes losing hours and hours of work to burn that concept into your memory. I’m trying to help you avoid that altogether. We’ve all heard the story of the guy who wrote a 20-page paper in college but forgot to save, then the computer lost power, and he lost everything.

Well, the same thing can happen with whatever project you’re working on in you DAW.

That’s why I have a twitch.

How to Twitch

The twitch is very easy, but it takes some practice to become a Master Twitcher. Here are the steps:

  1. Position your left thumb over the Command key (or Ctrl on a PC).
  2. Position your left middle finger over the S key. (I prefer the middle finger, but you may use your index finger if you like.)
  3. Press down on the Command (Ctrl) key and hold.
  4. Press down on the S key.
  5. Repeat like a madman.

That’s it!! That’s the twitch.

The hardest part is Step 5, Repeat like a madman. My best advice is to make a focused effort to hit the save button as much as you possibly can. At this point, whenever I’m not actually typing something or entering in a shortcut, my fingers magically hover over Cmd-S.

It’s a habit now. I made myself do it for several months, and now (years later) I can’t stop. There’s an added bonus, too. It works no matter what software you’re using. Editing video? Twitch. Working on a paper? Twitch. Tweaking a spreadsheet? Twitch.

Better Safe Than Sad

The truth is this: You never know when Pro Tools is going to crash, or when the power is going to go out, or when your cat is going to jump onto the keyboard and quit all open applications. It happens.

If you develop the twitch, then when one of these things happens to you, it’ll simply be an inconvenience, not a devastating, life-changing event. Rather than losing hours of work, you’ll only lose maybe a minute or two. (That’s a big difference.)

Develop a twitch…and your digital life will be much better. I promise.

While you’re practicing your twitching, make sure you sign up to my newsletter. I send out lots of great info every week. It’s the perfect addition to your new twitching addiction. 🙂

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  • JLiRD808

    Actually last nite I’m glad I DIDN’T twitch cuz I chose to “revert to last saved version” instead of undoing a bunch of unnecessary tweaks.

    A question: When u set autosave every __ mins is it creating backup files every time or is resaving over ur current version? I use Cubase but suppose its similar cross platform

  • Angel

    I didnt twitch yesterday.. 🙁 lost a good rhythm i had going. U live n learn.

  • Joseph Lyons

    Oh jeez, I “twitch” so much I don’t realize I’m doing it. Another good tip is making sure auto backups are enabled. I’ve been saved A TON OF TIMES by auto save. Just go back and open the most recent auto saved session then save it over the current one. Great stuff Joe.

    • I should start a twitch support group or something…. 😉

  • Blaine

    I have had that for years and as a matter of fact learned it way back in college after a paper disappeared. Sometimes I even find myself inadvertently saving webpages due to the twitch!

    • HA! I do the same thing. I try to save things that can’t be saved. 🙂

  • Ken Kasriel

    In addition to saving obessesively, I also have gotten into the habit of saving as a new version every time I’ve made a major change, so that if the file has become corrupted, or otherwise messed up by that change, I can always revert to the last stable version. It is like having many, many layers of “undo”.

    It also helps to give such incremental files meaningful names to make life easier if you do need to go back to where something went wrong, or to identify where you took some fork in the road. Typical project file names I use will be along these lines: “Project_v01_comping vocals” “Project_v02_adding midi orchestra” “Project_v03_redoing woodwinds” “Project_v04_rendering orchestral submix”

    etc.

    By the time I finish a project it’s not unusual to have 30-50 incremental project files. As the files are mainly “shells” and don’t contain the actual media, it’s no big deal as far as HD space is concerened.

    This appraoch has saved my a** a number of times!

  • Kevin M. Kortsch

    Isn’t technology great! Where I’m from, when you pushed the stop button, it’s done. Now we can go for hours at a time and the little 0-1 microbrain suddenly decides to take a dirt nap. Although I’m new to the DAW world I’ve been working with computers since the 286 and know all too well that this is just another machine that has an umbilical cord attached to Murphys’ Law. Never heard it? Murphys’ Law states “If it can go wrong, it will go wrong and at the worst possible time”.

    Good advice, get the twitch.

  • A

    the print of ‘Cnrt’ and ‘S’ have got erased from my keyboard due to too much Twitching 😀

  • Yea, I have that “twitch” for over 3 years now.

    CMD+S or CTRL +S (Windows)
    I do that all the time.

    The funny part about it is when I surf the internet and try to leave a long comment on other people blog, I have that twitch come back and of course the browser try to save the whole html files instead. 😀

  • Yea, I have that “twitch” for over 3 years now.

    CMD+S or CTRL +S (Windows)
    I do that all the time.

    The funny part about it is when I surve the internet and try to leave a long comment on other people blog, I have that twitch come back and of course the browser try to save the whole html files instead. 😀

  • Joe,

    I just love your blogs. I had a smile on the whole time. Thanks for rattling the chains!
    And by the way, thanks for all the great stuff you give us. I watched one of your tutorials the other day about labelling your I/O settings – particularly the busses, and it was awesome! Really clarified Protools routing system a lot for me! Thumbs up at you!

    Char

  • Yes, yes, yes. Even better, set your default project configurations for auto-save.

    Best. Feature. EVER.

    • Eric

      for those whom don’t have the ‘twitch’ perhaps have a timer to go off every minute to do so till it becomes habit. the amount of stress i have dodged because of this habit is life saving!

  • Daniel

    Saved my butt on more than one occasion for sure!!!

  • Even better than the twitch: I have Pro Tools set to autosave every *1* minute, and save the maximum number of backups (99 I think). Session files are not huge compared to drive speeds (especially on my internal SSD) so I’ve never encountered any hiccup from PT saving.

  • Xan

    Good plan that…I make it a policy to never walk away from the computer without saving.

    Sometimes you do have to be careful because saving can actually destroy something if you accidentally do a “save” instead ov a “save as”.

    And yeah, I HAVE had that one with the cat walking over the keyboard and quitting the apps once! hehe

    • Christopher w

      yeah, I do that as well.

      Every time I go away from the computer, even just to go to the toilet I save it and then again as a different name encase something weird happens and the session breaks.

  • I’m a veteran twitcher…learned the hard way after losing some important files years ago.

  • Scott Colesby

    I developed this twitch a few years ago. Normally do it after pretty much any change.

    Have to say, however, that the thumb/index is obviously the better combination.

  • JLiRD808

    Haha! “Hi my name is jason and I have had the glitch for 4 years now”….I’m on a PC though so it’s left pinky on Ctrl and index on S…and repeat.

    I set Cubase to autosave every 10mins. I know ppl that are every 3 mins. I’ve been “saving as [new filename]” like a m*ther too…usually just “name1” then “name2” etc. Every once in awhile I WILL go back and pull up an older version if I feel I’ve been steering wrong.

    I do have tons of save files that are probably safe to delete now lol.

    Good article!

  • Sad Panda

    The best part about this is it’s not even PT specific. It’s not even DAW specific. Ctrl+S works in PT, Sonar, Notepad, Excel, and just about everything else. DO IT DO IT DO IT.

  • Bob Sorace

    In Pro Tools, can’t you adjust the amount of time it will “auto save” your project? I know I’ve had to go through the backups looking for an earlier version of a session so I could use that one instead of the version I just screwed up!

  • Christopher w

    As I posted on twitter, before I knew you made the blog post:

    I have just noticed my hand always naturally rests on the cmd and S buttons, habit I guess… its annoying when I’m working on a PC though, having to think about saving (as my hand then will rest on the \ key not cmd). Every time I see the icon of what-ever DAW turn greyish I automatically lean on my “rest”

    As a side note: my macbook pro only says ctrl not control.

    • “everytime I see the icon turn greyish” …ha ha ha. I know exactly what you mean.