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plugin-subsets

Defining subsets for quick access to your favorite plug-ins

When you have dozens of plug-ins, choosing them can be difficult. Unify gives you the ability to define your own plug-in subsets which automatically show up in selection menus like this one:

Pre-defined subsets let you get started right away

Unify comes with several pre-defined subsets (which you can edit if you wish):

  1. Every plug-in selection menu begins with a “Unify Standard” item, allowing you to select among Unify's built-in and bundled plug-ins.
  2. For each category of plug-ins (MIDI effects, Instruments, Audio effects), there is also a pre-defined “My…” subset, which is stuffed with references to hundreds of common plug-ins, but only plug-ins which are actually on your system (and have been registered with Unify's plug-in database) will actually appear in pop-up menus.
  3. Every plug-in selection menu also contains an “All…” sub-menu, which lists ALL available plug-ins (in the relevant category), using one sub-menu for each manufacturer name, just as you'll see in most DAWs.

Using the plug-in subsets view

Thanks to these pre-defined subsets, you can work with Unify without ever defining or editing your own subsets, but eventually you will probably want to. Get started by clicking the list icon (shown in green here) at the bottom right part of Unify's icon strip:

The following plug-in subsets view will then appear in Unify's body area. It can be a little daunting at first glance, but begins to make sense when you see that it consists of three distinct areas or columns:

The basic concept involves four steps:

  1. You choose (or create) a subset file in the Files area (on the left)
    • You can also use the controls in the Files area to rename or delete presets
  2. Its contents appear in the Current-subset editor area (on the right)
    • You can then delete any plug-ins you don't want by selecting them and clicking “Remove selected”
  3. You can then add new plug-ins to the preset by
    • locating and selecting plug-ins you want in the Plug-ins selector area (in the middle), and
    • clicking “Add selected” button to add them.
  4. When you're done, you save the edited preset by clicking the “Save” button (top right corner)

Files area: Selecting, renaming and deleting subsets

Unify uses a hierarchical system of XML files in folders to remember your plug-in subsets. (If you'd like to look around these files, go to the Settings view by clicking on the “gear” icon, click the Data folder “Open…” button, then open the Presets folder, and finally the Plugin Subsets folder inside that.)

The top level of the subset hierarchy is the three basic plug-in categories: Instruments, Audio effects, and MIDI effects. The pop-up menu at the top-left corner of the Files area lets you choose which one category you want:

When you select a category, the main part of the Files area shows the contents of the corresponding folder, consisting of XML files (individual subsets) and, in some cases, sub-folders. If you wish, you can click the “Open in Explorer” button (“Open in Finder” on Mac) to open the folder itself. If you make any changes in the Explorer/Finder, click the “Refresh” button to update the Files area view.

Selecting and de-selecting files and sub-folders

In the Files area view itself, you can click any item to select it, and use the small triangles to the left of each sub-folder to show or hide the sub-folder contents. Selected items will be highlighted in green like this:

When no items are selected, the surrounding folder (Instruments, Audio Effects, or MIDI Effects) is effectively selected. You can use the “Refresh” button to clear selections to get back to this state, e.g., if you want to create a new subset in that folder.

Creating a new subset file (or sub-folder)

To create a new subset file (or a sub-folder), you must first select the folder you want to create it in.

  • Use the “Refresh” button at the top if you want to clear all selections and select the top-level folder.
  • Otherwise, click the sub-folder in which you want to create the new item
  • The new item will be created immediately, with a default name (“newSubset.xml” or “New Folder”). See below for how to rename it (or delete it, if you created it by mistake).

After creating and renaming a new preset file, you'll most likely want to select and add presets to it (below).

Renaming a preset file or sub-folder

At the bottom of the Files area are four buttons. The top two (“Delete” and “Rename”) will change, depending on whether you select a file or a sub-folder in the files-hierarchy display. (Remember, when nothing is highlighted, the surrounding top-level folder is effectively selected.)

The Rename button allows you to change the name of the selected file or folder. Clicking it pops up a small window like this:

  • You must click in the black edit area to begin editing; then you can type
  • You can use your mouse to position the edit cursor, or select characters to delete/copy/paste, etc.
  • You must press the Return/Enter key on your keyboard for the change to take effect.
  • To cancel and close the window without renaming, click the little “X” at the top-right corner, or simply click anywhere outside the pop-up window.

Deleting a preset files or sub-folder

The Delete button deletes the selected file or folder. This happens immediately, and no “are you sure?” box will pop up, so use this with care!

Remember, you can use the “Open in Finder/Explorer” button to open any of the preset (sub-)folders, and then you can make back-up copies if you want.

Plug-ins selector area: Finding and selecting plug-ins

The middle column of the plug-in presets view shows a big scrolling list of all the plug-ins registered in Unify's plug-in database, in alphabetical order. (If you can't find the one you're looking for, you might not have registered it; click the link for details.)

In this case, when we say “all plug-ins”, we mean ALL. Even if you select Instruments, Audio Effects, or MIDI Effects in the Files area, the list in the middle will still include all three kinds of plug-ins. This can be important because, for example, VST plug-ins have no way to distinguish MIDI effects from audio effects, and many VST plug-ins that are actually MIDI effects often declare themselves to be “instruments”, because many DAWs can only load them into “instrument” slots.

Finding specific plug-ins in the list

To find a specific plug-in, you can use the green scroll bar on the right-hand side (or your mouse's scroll function), but the fastest way is to type any part of the plug-in's name into the Search box at the top:

  • As you type, the list will get shorter, showing only the entries which match what you typed
    • Don't worry about capital letters–matching is case-insensitive
  • Your search text can match any part of the name, not just the beginning. For example:
    • Typing “VST/inst” would match all VST Instruments
    • Typing all or part of a manufacturer name will isolate that manufacturer's plug-ins
  • If you make a mistake, just back-space (or use your mouse/keyboard–it's a full text-edit box)

Selecting plug-ins in the list

Once you've found the plug-in(s) you're interested in, you can click on it to select that plug-in, in preparation to adding it to a preset.

  • Selected items are highlighted in green
  • You can de-select an item by clicking it a second time
  • You can select more than one item if you wish

When working with a long list, it can be hard to know exactly how many items are selected. Use the “Select NONE” button at the bottom of the plug-ins selector area to make sure nothing is selected.

Alternatively, if your search text has narrowed down the list so that only the plug-ins you want are displayed, you can use the “Select ALL” button to quickly select them all.

Adding selected plug-ins to the current subset

When you have selected one or more plug-ins in the all plug-ins area, you can add them to the currently-selected subset by clicking the “Add selected” button at the bottom-right corner of the plug-ins selector area.

  • If the “Add selected” button is “greyed-out” (indicating that it's inactive), this is because no subset is selected in the Files area. You might have de-selected it by mistake. Go back and click on the subset you want in the Files area (leftmost column).
  • Whenever you select a subset in the Files area, its name will appear at the top of the Current-subset editor area (rightmost column) as shown below. If it says “Choose or create a subset”, that's another indication that you haven't selected a subset.

Editor area: saving your changes, deleting plug-ins

The Current-subset editor area (rightmost column) displays an alphabetical list of all the plug-ins in the currently-selected subset, whose name (as mentioned above) appears at the top. If the list is empty, it might just be empty (i.e., you haven't added any plug-ins yet), or you might have accidentally de-selected the subset in Files area (leftmost column). If it says “Choose or create a subset”, and the “Save” button is greyed-out, that's why.

Once you've finished all the editing you want to do, click the “Save” button to save your changes:

To delete plug-ins from the subset list, you must first select them. Use the mouse to select or de-select individual plug-ins, or use the “Select ALL” or “Select NONE” buttons at the bottom) to adjust your selections. Selected items will be highlighted in green. When you're ready, click the “Remove selected” button below the list. Then make sure to click the “Save” button at the top-right to save the change.

plugin-subsets.txt · Last modified: 2020/11/28 02:31 by shane