An Introduction to the 5 Rulers of Logic Pro X

Monday, May 12, 2014 22:20

In the following article, I take a look at the different Rulers in Logic Pro X. Maybe you will discover some features that you can add to your Logic Pro workflow.

The Ruler

The Ruler is one of the main interface components, not only in Logic Pro, but in virtually every DAW on the market. It sits on top of the Workspace and represents the Timeline of your Project.

But as we all know, Logic Pro is not like any other DAW on the market. Having just one Ruler wouldn’t be Logic-like. Logic Pro has not one, not two, it gives you a total of five Rulers, plus a lot of hidden features and functionalities. The beauty about Logic Pro is that you don’t have to use all the options, you only have to know them and then decide which option you want to use and how you want to use them so they fit into your personal workflow.

So let me introduce those options that will hopefully help you to increase your productivity in Logic Pro.

Logic Pro Ruler #1 – Primary Ruler

The Primary Ruler is always visible. It provides the main Timeline for your Project. However, time can be displayed in different formats and Logic gives you the option to choose from two formats:

  • Musical Time ➊ in bars, beats, divisions, and ticks
  • Absolute Time ➋ as SMPTE time with hours, minutes, second, and frames

In Logic Pro 9 you just switched between the two formats with a button right on the Ruler. Now, in Logic Pro X, this option was “promoted” to be part of the Project Settings. You can set it (switch it) in two places:

  • When you create a new Project, the Project Chooser displays the checkbox “Use musical grid” ➌ in the Details section. When checked, it sets the Primary Ruler to the “Musical Time” format.
  • You can change the time format at any time. Go to the “Project Settings ➤ General” window. There you find the same checkbox labeled “Project Type” ➍.

Cycle Area

The Primary Ruler has one additional function besides displaying the time units. It is the home of the Cycle Area. The topic of the Cycle Mode would be a separate column. Here are just a few bullet points.

  • The Cycle Area is always visible in the Primary Ruler. It is yellow when Cycle Mode is enabled and gray when disabled ➎.
  • You can edit the Cycle Area directly on the Ruler: Move, resize, etc.
  • If Cycle Mode is enabled, then the Ruler background changes to a striped pattern ➏. This is a visual reminder that Cycle Mode is on in case the Playhead is parked where the yellow Cycle Area is currently not visible.

Logic Pro Ruler #2 – Playhead Ruler

The Playhead Ruler is the lane below the Primary Ruler and is also always visible.

What you see:

  • It displays the time divisions based on the time format of the Primary Ruler.
  • It displays the triangle of the Playhead that extends as a white vertical line across the Track Lanes.
What you can do:
  • Click on a position along the Playhead Ruler to place the Playhead there.
  • Click on the Playhead and drag it along the Playhead Ruler to move it to a different position. If the Pause Button ➐ at the Transport Controls is activated, then this will function as a Scrub feature. The movement snaps to a grid that depends on the zoom factor. Ctr+click overwrites that snap mode and allows a finer dragging resolution.
  • Cmd+click to toggle Autopunch Mode.

Logic Pro Ruler #3 – Secondary Ruler

You can display a Secondary Ruler on top of the Primary Ruler. Whatever time format (Musial Time or Absolute Time) is selected for the Primary Ruler, the Secondary Ruler will display the other one.

Activate the Secondary Ruler with the following commands:

  • Local Menu View ➤ Secondary Ruler
  • Key Command (Secondary Rulerctr+opt+cmd+R

Logic Pro Ruler #4 – Marquee Ruler

The Marquee function in Logic Pro is one of those advanced features that not many users use or even know about (and is definitely worth a future article).

When activated, the Marquee Ruler will be displayed below the Playhead Ruler. You can use this Ruler to create a Marquee selection without switching the Mouse Pointer to the Marquee Tool. You just  drag along that area to create a Marquee Strip that extends its left and right border vertically across the Track Lanes. Most of the Region editing functions (move, copy, cut, delete) will now apply only to the portion of the selected Regions that fall inside that Marquee Selection.

Activate the Marque Ruler with the following commands:

  • Local Menu View ➤ Marquee Ruler 
  • Key Command (Marquee Ruler) unassigned

Logic Pro Ruler #5 – AutoPunch Ruler

The red AutoPunch Area marks the left and right AutoPunch locator (a special record procedure).

The AutoPunch Ruler becomes visible below the Primary Ruler. Toggle the AutoPunch Ruler with the following commands:

  • Click on the AutoPunch Button ➓ in the Control Bar
  • Cmd+click on the Playhead Ruler

Editor Windows

All the Editor Windows (Piano Roll, Score, Step Editor, Track Editor, Drummer Editor) also display the Rulers:

  • The Primary Ruler and Playhead Ruler are always visible.
  • The Secondary Ruler can be activated independently in the various Editors.
  • The AutoPunch Ruler is automatically visible in all Editors if enabled.
  • The Marquee Ruler is only available in the Tracks Editor.
  • The Drummer Editor (the new kid on the block) has only a simplified Ruler.


No matter what Ruler you prefer in the Kingdom of Logic Pro, try them out and see which one is your favorite and which one you want to incorporate into your workflow – maybe all of them.

Graphically Enhanced Manuals (GEM)

Please check out the other books in my best-selling series “Graphically Enhanced Manuals” (GEM) , available as PDF files, interactive multi-touch iBooks on Apple’s iBooks Store, or as printed books on Amazon.


Thanks for your time and interest,

Edgar Rothermich