Ben Holst

Musician / Composer / Producer / Mixer

Trash Your Preferences

Last weekend I was helping a friend and his band do a YouTube live broadcast. As we were sound checking and testing the signal, the playback monitor from Avid's ProTools was dropping out globally across all 20 or so channels. It sounded like a clocking error or something, but it was inconsistent and wasn't dropping out on the send to the interweb or headphones. Just the 2 mix in the control room. It was muting here and there almost as if I had a plug-in demo across the whole mix. As we closed in on 30 mins to showtime I was tempted to just roll with it rather than open up a can of troubleshooting worms on an unfamiliar rig. In a moment of frustration, and feeling unwilling to accept a less than stable system that was fussy and erratic I reached out to an experienced lifeline - Thom "TK" Kidd, accomplished engineer and owner of bajillion X platinum  Silent Sound Studios here in Atlanta.

Fortunately TK is always quick to reply and immediately said "Trash Prefs."

Trashing Prefs aka: deleting Avid's ProTools Preferences is the digital equivalent to a software colonic.  It is a necessary process that is much more comprehensive than the traditional bowel movement restart. But it seemed too simple. 

With 20 minutes to showtime, I said "screw it" and went for it. What could possibly go wrong ?      I made a folder on the desktop and copied the items to be flushed in the event that something went screwy and BAM! Deleted Prefs, Emptied trash and system restart. 

I powered the system back up, clicked on the session file, held my breath, said a handful of Hail Marys and watched the magic happen. PROBLEM SOLVED! 

I couldn't believe it, and then it got me thinking... 

What if it was just THAT easy. What if I started trashing preferences elsewhere in my life ? As Manny Marroquin  told me once at an Atlanta GRAMMY event, "Look in the mirror.." What would happen if I preferred fewer beers on a Wednesday night, or if I preferred to get up even earlier for a run before an early session ? Why not prefer to spend 6 hours mixing a demo instead of 2? How many old outdated preferences can I get rid of to help my life and career run more efficiently? I hesitate to answer that question more candidly on a public forum, but I think the answer is most of them could use a good flushing every few months.

The next time I hit a wall where logic isn't making sense, old Prefs are the first to go. 

  ********Trashing Pro Tools Preferences (Pro Tools 11 and later)

  • From the Finder, click on the 'Go' menu at the top of your screen.
  • Press and hold the Option key on your keyboard and choose 'Library'.
  • Go to the Preferences folder and delete the following:
    • com.avid.ProTools.plist
    •  ProTools Folder within the Avid folder

restart your rig and continue enjoying life