Editing, Timing & Pitch

How to Snap to Grid in FL Studio + (7 QUICK Tips)

Written By : Andrew Siemon

Snapping to the grid follows the principles of time signatures & values. You can choose 1/4, 1/2, all the way down to 1/64th notes. It’s also the basis of quantization because the grid determines to what line your recordings are quantized.

To snap to the grid in FL Studio, open your project. Select the “Snap to Grid” (magnet) icon from the playlist toolbar. Choose the desired snap setting, i.e. 1/4 Beat or 1/4 Step, and then Draw or Move your clips on the playlist according to where you need them, or in the Piano Roll.

How to Snap to Grid in FL Studio [EASY]

Snap settings are available in three FL Studio windows: the Playlist, Piano Roll & Event Editor. You can use each of these windows to set a different grid for all. There is also a global snap-to-grid setting on the main toolbar which will work if you set the other ones to “Main.”

1) How to Use the “Snap To Grid” Menu

How to Snap to Grid in FL Studio [Full Guide]; Using The Snap To Grid Options
This handy chart, taken from the FL Studio online manual, shows you what times values are used by each Snap setting. A bar is a whole note, a beat is a quarter note, etc.

The snap-to-grid menu is the quickest way to snap clips to the grid. It saves time and makes your workflow a lot smoother and more efficient. It has options to select different snap settings that affect the way clips are aligned.

Each option represents a division of notes (4th notes, 8th notes, 16th notes etc.). The playlist/piano roll grid lines change according to the snap option.

2) Click The Snap To Grid Icon

How to Snap to Grid in FL Studio [Full Guide]; The Snap To Grid Icon
As you can see, there are approximately three controls for Snap to Grid.

As I explained earlier, snapping to the grid applies to three FL studio windows (playlist, piano roll, and event editor) and there is a global snap in the main toolbar.

The icon is a magnet, located on the toolbar of each of the windows. Click on it to open the menu for selecting snap settings. I’m not currently aware of a keyboard shortcut that allows you to move through the settings quickly. As of now, I only know how to do it by clicking on it.

3) Choose A Snap Setting

How to Snap to Grid in FL Studio [Full Guide]; Choose A Snap Setting
These are all the Snap options

Based on your needs, choose the option that is best for you. I prefer 1/4 Beat which represents 1/16th notes. As you select the options, you will see the grid lines change. Selecting “none” will cancel any snap setting, and you can draw/move clips freely.

The “line” and “cell” options are not time-based, but they determine how FL Studio behaves when you’re drawing notes/clips.

If “line” is selected, every clip or note you draw will be placed on the nearest grid line, if “cell” is selected, every clip drawn will start at the beginning of the cell in which the mouse is placed, regardless of closeness to any lines.

The snap-to-grid menu in the playlist, piano roll, and Event editor has an additional option: “Main”. Selecting this option means that the snap setting of that window will be controlled by the global snap settings in the main toolbar.

The FL Studio online manual gives a detailed explanation of the Global Snap. Here’s a great YouTube video where the guy explains and then demonstrates all of the main Snap-to-Grid modes.

4) Draw, Move Your Clips, Notes

Beat Snap to Grid - How to Snap to Grid in FL Studio
If you select the “Beat” setting, it’ll make the notes quarter notes.

Now, you can start drawing in your clips/Notes, or move already existing notes to the desired grid line. You’ll notice that FL Studio will only allow you to make notes with the time value that corresponds to the Snap to Grid setting. Of course, you can turn it off, as well.

How to Snap to Grid by Quantization

Another method that should be considered is Quantization. This is an automatic way of snapping to the grid without having to drag notes/clips manually. Firstly, make sure you’ve chosen a snap setting using the steps in number 1.

1) Select The Clips/Notes To Be Quantized

How to Snap to Grid in FL Studio [Full Guide]; Select The Clips/Notes To Be Quantized
Use Command + Drag if you’re on macOS like me.

To begin with, select the notes/clips you want to snap to the grid. If you don’t select any clips/notes, quantization will be applied to all the clips (in the playlist) or all the notes (piano roll), you can also manually select all the notes in a piano roll by clicking the ALT button + A.

To select specific clips/notes, press Ctrl (+ hold) and drag over the notes.

2) Quantize The Notes To The Grid

How to Snap to Grid in FL Studio [Full Guide]; Quantize The Notes To The Grid
Steps to quantize

In the playlist, you can only quantize the start times of clips, i.e. the line where the clip starts from. To quantize, go to “Playlist Options” (the triangle button at the top left corner of the playlist) > “Tools” > “Quick quantize start times.” You can also click the shortcut, Shift + Q.

In the piano roll, press Ctrl + Q to quantize based on the snap settings you have already selected. You can also press Alt + Q to have more control over the quantization. An alternative way is to click on “Piano roll options” (top left corner of piano roll) > “Tools” > “Quantize”.

7 Tips for Snapping to the Grid in FL Studio

1) Optimize Snap to Grid Between the Playlist, Piano Roll, and Event Editor

How to Snap to Grid in FL Studio [Full Guide]; The Snap To Grid Icon
You can snap to the grid in the Piano Roll in a number of ways, and the same thing goes for the Playlist and Global Snap as well.

Snapping to the Grid in the Piano Roll is great for creating rhythms and melodies using many different kinds of sounds. In the Playlist, you can also snap to the grid in terms of how you structure your project, rather than the notes of your project.

The Global Snap is the Snap to Grid settings that’ll work if your Playlist and Piano Roll settings haven’t already been defined.

It’s the Snap setting that’ll apply everywhere if you haven’t been more specific with the other editors’ settings, however, you have to set the setting to “Main” in order for it to work. In my view, the best way to utilize each editor’s settings is to have 1/4 Beat in the Piano Roll and then Bar in the Playlist.

2) Adjust the Global Snap Panel When Local Is Set to “Main” to Change the Grid

1/6 Step - How to Use Snap to Grid in FL Studio
1/6 Step division on the FL Studio Grid.

Changing up the Global Snap setting when the other one is set to “Main” will divide up the grid depending on the setting you’ve chosen.

3) Use 1/2 and 1/4 Beat When Using the Piano Roll

1/2 to 1/4 Beat - How to Snap to Grid in FL Studio
1/2 and 1/4 Beat settings are the most common (1/8th Notes) & (1/16th Notes).

4) Use 1/4 Step or 1/2 Step for More Specific Grid Snaps

1/2 to 1/4 Beat - How to Snap to Grid in FL Studio
1/2 Step and 1/4 Step are the next most common snap to grid settings, after 1/2 Beat and 1/4 Beat.

5) Use 1/3 Beat and 1/6 Step for Sophisticated Hi-Hat & Other Melodic Patterns

1/6 and 1/3 - How to Snap to Grid in FL Studio
If you’re making hip-hop beats, you’ll probably want to have some cool hi-hat patterns.

In that case, you can get more creative by setting up a 1/3 Beat Snap to Grid Setting or 1/6 Step. A 1/6 Step is about as small as you can get.

6) Use “Bar” When Organizing Tracks in the Playlist

The Playlist with the Bar setting on in FL Studio
Set the Playlist Editor’s Snap to Grid to Bar, and then you’ll have a much easier time organizing your song.

This is the most useful for projects in 4/4, which most of your projects will be, let’s be real.

7) Set Your “Snap to Grid” Setting Then Use the Brush

Brush and Snap to Grid - How to Snap to Grid in FL Studio
The Brush and Snap to Grid function is a really useful tool in FL Studio.

In simple terms, it allows you to quickly create a ton of notes without having to click and add them one at a time like you would in GarageBand.

How to Work Without Snapping to the Grid

There are cases where you need very precise control of how clips are placed. For example, when working with vocals, you may need to make smaller adjustments to the audio clip, such as moving it in increments smaller than 64th notes (which is the limit of the snap function).

In this scenario, you have to make minute adjustments. You’ll have to work without snap in this case. There are two ways to work without the snap turned on.

1) Selecting The “None” Snap To Grid Option

How to Snap to Grid in FL Studio [Full Guide]; Selecting The _None_ Snap To Grid Option
Select none to stop snapping to the grid

The first is to open the snap options and select None. This can be switched off/on (toggled with the last selected snap option) by clicking “Backspace” on the keyboard.

2) Using The Alt Key (Command for macOS users)

The other way is to temporarily turn off the snap by holding down the “Alt” on the keyboard. Releasing Alt will turn the snap back on. To use this method, hold down Alt-click (+ hold) and drag the clip/note as you want.

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Andrew Siemon is the principal creator of ProducerSociety.com, a website dedicated to all things music, including music production, music theory, recording, and how to use the most popular DAWs. Starting out as a metal guitarist, Andrew has since moved into other areas of music production including hip-hop and fusion

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