Linking & Using External Hardware Controllers

Most controls on the FL Studio interface (knobs/sliders, etc.) can be linked to internal or external controllers. After linking, controller movements can be recorded in real-time (make sure the recording filter is set to accept 'Automation'). Recorded movements are then replayed with the project. There are two classes of links:

Connecting a hardware controller to FL Studio

For information on setting up a hardware controller see the section on F10 > MIDI Settings options.

Linking to internal controllers

For information on linking to internal controllers see this page.

Per-Project Links

Per-Project links are temporary, remembered only for the current session/project. They are saved with the project and will re-establish when you open the project again. They override Global links, until the project is closed and another project (without Per-Project Links) is opened. In this way you can save Per-Project Links to project templates so you can have multiple custom controller assignments for specific project applications. Importantly they continue to work when other parts FL Studio or plugins are focussed. Focusing is the act of clicking on the window/plugin with your mouse.

FL Studio interface & native plugin 'quick link' procedure:

  1. Right-click the knob/slider you want to control.
  2. From the pop-up menu select 'Link to Controller' to open the Remote Control Settings dialog.
  3. Optionally modify the nature of the link with the Remote control settings (see below).
  4. Move the physical knob/slider on the external controller and the link is automatically made. Alternatively to link more than one target at a time:

VST plugin quick link procedure:

  1. Tweak one or two VST interface targets with your mouse (a tweak is a small movement).
  2. Open the Tools Menu and select 'Last tweaked > Link to controller' to link the last tweaked parameter or Before last tweaked > Link to controller to link to the first of a tweaked pair. OR Right-click the Multilink controllers switch and select 'Link to controllers'. NOTE: The names of the 'last tweaked' and 'before last tweaked' parameters will show at the top of the sub-menus.
  3. Optionally modify the nature of the link with the Remote control settings (see below).
  4. Move the physical knob/slider on the external controller and the link is automatically made. Alternatively to link more than one target at a time:

Global Links

After a Global Link is made, your controller will automatically link to the target in FL Studio or plugin each time it is focused (click on the interface window to focus it). Global Links apply across all Projects, unless overridden by a 'Per-Project link'. The advantage of Global Links allow you to control many targets with one controller knob, slider or switch. When you focus the plugin or window, programmed links are automatically re-established. Some notes:

Fixed target linking procedure:

Global links are window/plugin-specific, this means the same knobs/sliders/jogs on your controller can be used to control any number of user interface targets throughout FL Studio and plugins. The focused window or plugin controls the global link/s that are active. Focusing is the act of clicking on the window with your mouse. Generic override link video tutorial here.

  1. Select the Multi-link controllers switch on the Snap Panel.
  2. Tweak the software-user interface controls you want to link with your mouse (a tweak is any small movement of the control).
  3. Right-click the Multi-link controllers switch on the Snap Panel and select 'Override generic links'.
  4. The 'Generic Link' window will open.
  5. Tweak the hardware - knobs/sliders/jogs you want to link to those software targets. The links will be made in the same order the software targets were tweaked. The process will auto-close once the number of hardware controls tweaked equals the number of software targets.
  6. Next time the same plugin or window is focused, these links will be automatically re-established.

NOTES: You can repeat this process as many times as required, there is no need to link all your software targets and controllers in one session. To use multiple hardware controllers each controller must be set to a unique MIDI channels prior to initiating the multilink process. FL Studio will use this MIDI channel to identify what controller is linked to what target (don't forget to enable each controller in the MIDI settings).

Volatile target linking procedure:

These links assign a specific controller knob, slider or jog-wheel so that it automatically links to the last user interface parameter moved by the mouse. These links are volatile as they continually change focus to the last touched control on the user interface. Global volatile links are global, that is they will persist across projects and FL Studio sessions. To set up a volatile link:

  1. Tweak the user interface target (FL Studio, Plugin or VST) with your mouse (a tweak is a small movement).
  2. Open the Tools Menu and select 'Last tweaked > Override volatile link' to initiate the volatile-link process.
  3. The Generic link settings window will open, make sure the Auto detect switch is selected.
  4. Move the physical knob/slider/jog on the external controller and the first volatile-link is automatically made.
  5. Tweak a new user interface target with your mouse and the controller will now control that target, and so on...

NOTE: Controller knobs/sliders that have already been linked to specific targets will not respond to volatile linking until the original link is cancelled. Two knobs? By creating a volatile link to one controller knob using the Last tweaked > Override volatile link and then a different controller knob using the Before last tweaked > Override volatile link, you will then have the last two tweaked user interface parameters at your 'volatile' command.

Delete or backup permanent global links

The simplest method of deleting a few links is to reassign the offending links. However, if everything has gone seriously pear-shaped and your controllers seem to be changing the channels on your neighbors TV rather than doing what they are supposed to in FL Studio, you may need to completely delete all global links. Alternatively you may want to back the data files up (to copy it to a new FL Studio installation). In either case, the link data files are stored in the FL Studio installation folder:

BY CONTROLLER - you will find sub-directories for each controller used, (generic controller) being the default. If deleting, you have the option of deleting the individual 'BY TARGET.flmapping' files (deleting recommended) OR editing out the links you don't want in a text editor. Each link is bound by the <link> and </link> identifiers.

WARNING: You realize that mucking about with FL Studio installation files can cause FL Studio instability, global warming and rust. Worse case, you will need to swim to your PC (due to the melted ice-caps) and delete the '*.flmapping' files on your now rusting PC to start again. By the way, while you are poking about in the FL Studio installation, don't start editing any other files, we realize that success here may lead you to think you are some kind of coding guru. Don't let it go to your head.

Remote control settings

There are a number of options on the Remote control settings dialog (below) that can modify the linked relationship.

Note that the Wrapper Menu also has several important functions (Link all parameters and Browse parameters) to make links between plugin parameters and internal/external controllers. The Remote control settings dialog options are as follows:

Link Assignment

MIDI Controller

These controls allow customization of the MIDI link.

Omni and VST Control

Use the Omni mode to set your MIDI controller to control the same target in any selected channel. This section describes this process in more detail for VST plugins and a method for saving controller assignments for future quick recall.

Omni CC Links - If you want to use the Modwheel (CC1, for example) on your controller, so the mod wheel controls the CC1 parameter of any instrument in an active channel and also to save controller assignments for future use -

Saving MIDI/CC control assignments - This method creates a project template with the MIDI assignments saved in the project.

Internal controller

See the section on Internal controllers for more detail. NOTE: This section of the dialog will only be visible if there are internal controller sources in the project.

Mapping formula - Menu

This menu provides some pre-defined mapping relationships between the controller and the target control.

User Defined Formula

Working with Custom formulas:

Example FormulaResult
1-(Max(Input,0.5)- Min(Input,0.5))*2


This feature allows you to smooth the motion produced by the remote control hardware and/or internal plugin. This reduces the need to manually refine recorded automation after live sessions and ensures proper ramping of the control motion to avoid abrupt changes.

Action Buttons

Multi-link settings

This link dialog is associated with 'Multi-link Controllers' process. The options are similar to the standard link dialog: