One of the problems we had at the studio was managing the use of different plugins by different Engineers. Constantly having to scan through the plugin directories, remove peoples plugins to the unused folder, then moving in the plugins they did own all so that Pro Tools would boot without the constant popups asking for validation was becoming unmanageable without an encyclopeadic knowledge of all plugins, and then a memory like an elephant to remember whose were whose. If you miss just one then you get the popups when you boot ProTools meaning you have to quit, move a plugin again and relaunch, or allow ProTools to move it and run into the insufficient permissions warning.
With the introduction of AAX recently this added yet another folder to the picture. The saga was now a two-fold assault on the poor sap whose task it was to set up the studio for an Engineer or a mix.
To alleviate this I wrote a simple Applescript that allows us to store plugins in a user folder within the plugins directory and then with the click of a button it would make them the active folder and remove the current active folder adding it to the user directory again.
The idea being that when ProTools boots it scans a folder called Plug-Ins, if you make a folder for every user of your computer and add their plugins to it, when they boot PT with their folder active they will have only the plugins they use available to them and no annoying popups or validation requests.
To do this you need to create a folder for every user, name them whatever you like. Copy all of the default Pro Tools plugins into each folder (optional but usually worthwhile). Then you need to open the folder info of each folder ( cmd + I ) and within the spotlight comments copy the parent folder name EXACTLY. So for example I created a folder for myself called Dans Plug-Ins, the text within the spotlight comments section would be Dans Plug-Ins.
Once this is done you need to make a script for each folder as below.
Open Utilities (cmd + shift + u )
Open AppleScript Editor.
tell application "Finder"
set pluginsTargetFolder to ((path to library folder) & "Application Support:Digidesign:Plug-Ins:") as string
set aaxTargetFolder to ((path to library folder) & "Application Support:Avid:Audio:Plug-Ins:") as string
set name of alias pluginsTargetFolder to comment of folder pluginsTargetFolder
set name of alias aaxTargetFolder to comment of folder aaxTargetFolder
set newPluginFolder to ((path to library folder) & "Application Support:Digidesign:Dans Plug-Ins:") as string
set aaxPluginFolder to ((path to library folder) & "Application Support:Avid:Audio:Dans Plug-Ins:") as string
set name of alias newPluginFolder to "Plug-Ins"
set name of alias aaxPluginFolder to "Plug-Ins"
Make sure you change the names i highlighted in blue above to the name of the folder you are trying to make active with this script. So for example if you’d made a folder for Jeffs Plug-Ins you’d just add Jeffs Plug-Ins to the bit I’ve highlighted. Simple.
Then you want to click file, export and set the type to application. Save it somewhere you will remember and try it out. If you get any warnings you’ve either not named the folder the same in the comments or there isn’t currently an active plugin folder with a comment in its spotlight.
Now to explain the script. Firstly the script looks for any folder within the ProTools RTAS directory and the AAX directory that is currently active ( Just called Plug-Ins). When it finds them it renames them to the name stored in the spotlight comments. This makes the folder inactive, Pro Tools will no longer read it when you next boot it up.
The next lines look for the folder this script belongs to, in this instance its a script for my folder called Dans Plug-ins. It then renames this folder to just Plug-Ins, meaning Pro Tools will now read it on boot.
To switch it back you would just replicate the process above but substitute the name for the name of the next folder. You can create as many of these as you like they all work the same. Toggling out an active folder and renaming another to become active.
Very very simple but saves so much time!
Don’t forget Pro Tools must be completely shut for this to work and also take care when updating Pro Tools and its default plug-ins, you will have to copy them to each folder again on every update. People will have to have their folder active too when they update their own plug-ins obviously.
Also again bear in mind that the AAX folders you create must be within the same directory as the default AAX directory, the same story for the RTAS folders too.
AAX folder : /Library/Application Support/Avid/Audio
RTAS folder: /Library/Application Support/Digidesign/Plug-Ins
If you’d like to style the app icons you can just create a basic version in Photoshop or in a basic image editor. Get info on the app (cmd + I) and then drag your new image over the current icon in the top left.
I plan on making this a little more customisable in the future but for now it’s working well. Any problems or suggestions feel free to leave a comment.