How to Cut in Reaper

Cutting audio or MIDI is an essential feature in any serious DAW. It is one of the most basic tools for editing. REAPER gives you different tools that may suit you better depending on your needs and the context. Cutting allows you to move one item, or section of items, from one place to another, rearranging the way your ensemble flows.

The simplest way of cutting items in REAPER involves selecting the items you want to cut, right click one of the items, and select the option cut items at cursor. After doing this, you’re free to paste that item wherever you want in the arrange view. However, there’s more to it than that, so let ‘s dive into it.

Selecting the Items

First, you have to select the items you want to cut. In order to select an item just click it, it will show a distinctive shade to indicate this state.

If you want to edit different items at once, click one at a time while holding the Ctrl(on Windows) or Cmd(on Mac) key modifier, this will keep the previously selected items that way.

Holding the Shift modifier instead will allow you to select all the items between the previously selected item and the item you just clicked.

Another way of doing this is by dragging the right click along the arrange window, this is known as marquee selecting.

Simple Cut

Second, right click one of the items you have selected and click on the option cut items, this will erase the items on the timeline and save them in your clipboard. You can achieve the same goal by using the shortcut Ctrl+X (on Windows) or Cmd+X (on Mac).

All that’s left is pasting them anywhere else by placing the cursor, right clicking, and selecting the option paste. This can also be done by using the shortcut Ctrl+V (on Windows) or Cmd+V (on Mac).

These shortcuts may be familiar for most people since they’re just like any other word processor.

Using the Time Selection

Now, let’s say you want to cut only a section of an item or a group of items, here’s where using the time selection is useful. Once you have your items selected, drag along the time ruler or along the top bar of any item.

This will create a time selection that can change how the selected items interact with your actions.

After creating the time selection and having the items selected, Right click an item and select the option cut selected area of items, or press the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+X (on Windows) or Cmd+Shift+X (on Mac). This will cut only the portion of selected items that are inside the time selection.

And just like with a simple cut and paste, you can paste the items wherever you place the cursor using Ctrl+V (on Windows) or Cmd+V (on Mac).

Modifying REAPER Defaults

I know that selecting the items and then creating a time selection can be time consuming. That’s why some of us REAPER users, change the mouse modifiers configuration so that the time selection works in conjunction with the marquee selection. If you don’t want to modify the REAPER default behavior, you can skip to the next section of the article, where I show you how to use Razor edits to cut sections of items faster.

For those who want to link the marquee selection and time selection, go to the REAPER preferences by using the shortcut Ctrl+P(on Windows) or Cmd+,(on Mac). Head to the Mouse Modifiers section, and select the Track context.

This will show you a list of rulesets that the mouse follows depending on what key modifier or combination of key modifiers you press at the time of actioning the mouse gesture (shown on the top right side drop-down menu).

Next, double click on the behavior of the Default action, click the option Marquee select items, and select Set time selection on the sub-menu. All that’s left to do is click Apply on the bottom right corner of the Preferences window.

Now, every time you create a time selection, REAPER will marquee select items at the same time. This will make it so that working with the time selection is much much quicker.

Using the Razor Edit Selection

Razor edits are quite new to REAPER, and are a simpler way to select sections of items without the need to marquee select or time select. The actions that cut or copy a selected area of items prioritize razor edits over time selection, however, you can use the classic shortcuts.

So first, you have to create a razor edit, this can be done by holding the Alt(on Windows) or Opt(on Mac) modifier while dragging your right click over the section of items you want to select. It will show as a green-ish area over the selected section.

Now you can use the shortcut Ctrl+X (on Windows) or Cmd+X (on Mac) to copy the selected area of items, and paste it elsewhere by positioning your cursor and using the shortcut Ctrl+V (on Windows) or Cmd+V (on Mac).

Shortcut Summary

Click on an item — Select the item

Ctrl + Click on items — Select various items

Shift + Click on items — Select a range of items

Right Click drag — Marquee select items

Left Click drag on the top bar — Create a time selection

Alt + Right Click drag — Create a razor edit

Ctrl + X — Cut selected items

Ctrl + Shift + X — Cut selected area of items

Ctrl + V — Paste items

*On Mac use Cmd instead of Ctrl, and Opt instead of Alt

Conclusion

Cutting and pasting are essential tools for editing, and in order to suit every workflow, REAPER gives you three ways of going about it. Cutting items is often more useful than moving items with your mouse because if you have to move only sections of your items along large portions of your arrange view, you can easily lose your item along the timeline, or, if there are other items along the way they may interact in a weird way.

I dare you to try the different workflows that REAPER presents in whatever situation you find yourself in so that you get a good grasp of the concepts. Go and discover which feels the most comfortable for you and have fun!