After years of kludging through PT's Workspace to spot effects I finally broke down and got Soundminer v4Pro. Whoa. Nellie. Fast searches, spotting as a region, the pitch slider, the VST rack, re-recording it all through Re-Wire... I shudder to think of all the time I've wasted before.

It seems intuitive enough, but I'm certain that there's clever little tips and shortcuts that would be beneficial to know. I was just poking around here I found that complex boolean searches are awesome, as well as the Same Folder button.

But what little metadata hacks have you found to speed up your workflow? How do you break down your databases to speed up searches? I know, I know... I still have to RTFM, but I thought I'd give the opportunity for you to be On-The-Spot Super-Geniuses.

7 Answers 7


I heart soundminer.

My general sm workflows:

  • create an "import" database that you use for tagging sounds with metadata before adding them to your libraries. Quarantining new sounds and manipulating them outside of your massive databases is quicker and cleaner than putting them into your big database and adding metadata there. The reason is because databases can become corrupt if you throw too much at them too quickly, and you'll be manipulating quite a bit as you add sounds to your libraries. Once your metadata is finished, right click and embed to selected. this prints the metadata to the bwav header. Now move the files into their final location and scan them into your main sfx database. all of the metadata comes with!

  • don't forget that you can UNDO metadata changes. very handy!

  • you can use soundminer to detect and correct "dirty" files - that is files that have database metadata that is different from what is stored in the bwav header.

  • the admin window is your friend. from there you can do things like copy the filename to the description field, strip out the .wav at the end, and then append or prepend a bunch of tags to a group of files.

  • select a group of files and then right click on the description field. the drop down menu has a find and replace option. handy for big metadata edits.

  • always take and embed photos

  • your databases live in the following directory: user/library/application support/soundminer. OSX lion (un)helpfully hides that library folder. type this in the terminal to unhide it: chflags nohidden ~/Library/

  • back up your databases in triplicate please. one onsite, one offsite, a bwav header burn in each file. If you have something like sugarsync or dropbox going, you can just have those services auto sync your sm databases folder

  • sm is a good file renamer. throw the sounds into a temp database, then use either the admin window or the right click find and replace on the "filename" field. presto! also, this is the only file renamer that has an "undo" function that I'm aware of.

  • when doing music supervision or prelim sfx pulls, you can go to prefs and set the files transfer type to "interleaved". then create a folder in the finder and start scanning for stuff you'll need. when you find some cuts that you like mouse over the waveform window near where the little grabber hand is. drag the waveform to your folder - voila! instant transfer sans DAW.

there's more, but that's what I have off the top of my head.


I concur with Rene re making use of multiple databases - I have over 20+ databases...

The most important thing is that you want to be able to find sounds via multiple means - the faster the better. Don't get bogged down searching through one epic master database when it might be far easier & faster to eg have a seperate database for all of Franks libraries, Rabbit Ears etc

Some of my databases are temporary eg I make a new one each time I add a new big library, just so its instant to check through the contents, as I become familiar with it...

Some are project based eg one with all production audio for current film, one with all my recordings, one with all (non-prod audio) media being used on the project.... Even if the media is already in my ProTools work session/s, it is still often quicker to find, compare & remind myself of my resources in SM than in PT session...

I have three master databases - one with all FX & Ambiences, one with all music sample libraries, and one with all Kontakt libraries...

I often keep a master database of library material from specific projects...

Another fun one to randomnly listen to is an IR library - sometimes it like listening to early Pole :)

Love the pitch control in SM, wish it also had an 'audition backwards' button!

  • 2
    @tim, although SM doesn't have a backwards playback button there is at least one great VST plug that will do that: BackwardsMachine. Very affordable and offers lots of possibilities. Jul 18, 2012 at 6:52
  • I agree, anything to find material fast and easy. I actually don't split up databases for each botique library, although I modify them all before loading them in by re-tagging the Source with the abbrevation of that set or provider and usually tag them with sequential index numbers. a Different means to the same end, but thought I'd share as a side note to your method :) Jul 18, 2012 at 7:45
  • completely agree on the backwards thing. seems like it would be so easy for them to implement a reverse checkbox that both auditions and spots the files in backwards.
    – Rene
    Jul 18, 2012 at 12:05
  • cheers Jay, will check it out!
    – user49
    Jul 19, 2012 at 8:23
  • Nice tip for Backwards Machine Jay! Jul 19, 2012 at 13:40

I didn't know this trick until today:

the plus and minus keys shift pitch by 10% up/down each time you press them! (very handy if you want exactly half speed etc... )

Option click on pitch slider to revert to zero pitch

  • ah, very good! I will have to try that one. I do wish SM had a direct-entry for the pitch control, ie. if you wanted exactly 92.75%. The slider isn't great at fine-tuning. Jul 20, 2012 at 6:42
  • @Tim Thanks to this I figured out today that if you hold down OPT & +/- the amount jumps by 20%, and if you hold down CTRL & +/- the amount jumps... by 1%! Then, CTRL + OPT & +/- you get an 11% jump. I haven't discovered which key combo gets it down to 1/4 percent @Jay, but hopefully this'll get you that much closer. Jul 27, 2012 at 23:49
  • @Tim, @Jay I just found that using the plus/minus keys you can go well above 200%. I reached 5000 before I thought to myself, "this is ridiculous we've gone well past the point of usefulness here..." but nonetheless, you want 225% playback? Don't stop pressing plus. Aug 25, 2012 at 2:01

Building off of Rene's last tip, you can also pull out the side bar on the right, and then hit Cmd-Opt-2 to bring up a folder building window. Build folders, sub-folders, name them, and then with a folder selected, select a sound file, hit T and then it's tagged. Click the little preferences button, make sure "Build Folder Structure" is checked. Now you can select all of those sounds, Cmd-B them, and you'll have them all sent to your transfer path, keeping the same organized folder structure.


although I am a miniminer / soundminer HD user I have been making play lists ( or pull lists for those who remember mtools) in external databases like Foobar PC and bento Mac. I cannot stress enough how much of an improvement playlists are from using the digi workspace and catalogs as the only resource for sourcing and organizing sound assets


I know, this is an old post, but in case new user found this, here are some tips every soundminer user should know:

  1. Creating a clearly arranged database structure for your sounds. Create a database for a: all sound currently in use, b: all purchased libraries, c: all your own sounds, d: all production music - find a logic which works for you. We recommend that you use the template 'Music And FX' for the creation of the database. I will explain the reasons for this in more detail later on. In a nutshell: this establishes all available fields for music and sound databases. The reason why we recommend this approach is because it is no longer possible to ‘update' a table later in the process.

For performance reasons, Soundminer only allows you to search for files within a single database, so we make use of a database that contains everything we need for work. Into the first database we therefore put all the sounds that are currently in use. This includes all sounds that you are using for your work, e.g. purchases sound archives, your own sounds, your own sound archive and anything else connected to your work.

  1. DAW Menu: if you're not working with Pro Tools, check out the DAW Menu and let Soundminer communicate with your editing system
  2. ReWire: Helps you to share your audio hardware. From stereo up to 7.1 playbacks.
  3. Use the Search Lock in the Soundminer tool bar to search in your search results
  4. Freelance Mode: The Freelance Mode allows you to save the Soundminer databases in the sound sections on an external hard drive.
  5. Shortcuts: Shortcuts speed up your work process. https://www.avosound.com/en/sound-archive-management/soundminer-shortcut-list
  6. Edit Mode: this is my favorite - and many user don't know about this: pressing [E] on your keyboard will switch the table field into Edit Mode. Simply move the cursor over the table field of a selected track. Now you can write directly into the field and change text. But don't forget to embed the metadata changes so that they will be saved in the audio file.

You can find more tips and detailed explanations at: https://www.avosound.com/en/articles/10-simple-tricks-for-soundminer

cheers Guido

  • Old post? Still good advice. Thanks @Guido! Mar 6, 2018 at 1:43
  • Hi Steve, no it's new, but I digged out this old thread. I hope it is useful, cheers Mar 22, 2018 at 14:59

The best thing ive ever done to help my workflow is turning my SM monitor sideways to reduce scrolling, may not sound like much.. but after ahwile youll thank me.

  • If I get what you're saying, your 2nd monitor is 9x16 rather than 16x9? I unfortunately don't have monitor arms in my current digs, but I'll certainly keep that in mind when I do. Jul 14, 2012 at 22:04
  • I recently got monitor arms and set up my 2nd monitor in portrait. So far, I like it! Feb 6, 2014 at 5:28

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