If you’ve ever been in a forum then you may have come across the 4 letters RTFM, which stand for Read The F*****G Manual. This response of course assumes that the person asking the question hasn’t read the manual and often says far more about the person responding than the person asking the question. There are times when one can read a manual several times over and still not find the answer.
A few weeks ago we asked you what you what subjects you would like us to cover on Pro Tools Expert. One community member suggested we wrote an article about the importance of reading the Pro Tools manual.
So here is our guide on how to get the best from your stuff by reading the manuals.
1. Get The Manual Before The Product Arrives
When I first started buying gear in the 1980s user manuals were printed and often ran to several hundred if not thousands of pages. Some came in plastic clip binders and they weighed a ton, even more recently if you purchases a product like Logic the bulk of the box was user manuals. Today user manuals are just a click away, I wonder if like me you download the PDF manual before the product arrives? If you don’t then you should, by the time most of the stuff I buy arrives I’ve read the manual from cover to cover.
2. Take Advantage Of The PDF Technology
A second benefit of manuals now been written in PDF format is you can word search them to find the answer you are looking for. Most manuals go even further, for example the Pro Tools Reference Guide often mentions other pages or chapters and if you click on the link it takes you to that page. So don’t wade through a manual like a novel, use the technology to find things fast.
3. Study The Manual And Become A Guru
The current Pro Tools Reference Guide is split into 54 chapters which means you can read a chapter a week and have the entire manual covered in just about a year. I like to do this and either learn new things or refresh myself on things that I may have forgotten. So try setting yourself the Pro Tools Reference Guide in a year challenge, it’s only a chapter a week, which means you can go deeper than just skimming for answers.
4. Set Yourself Exercises
One I like to do is to open a new blank session and then choose a chapter and create some practical exercises based around what I’m trying to learn. For example if I want to learn how to warp audio then I’ll create a new track with some audio in and then work my way through that part of the manual until I’ve got it. When we read we take in the theory, when we do it then we apply that theory in a way which means it sticks. I highly recommend this to you, within no time you’ll be doing things you never dream of.
5. Print Parts Out As Reminders
The idea of printing is regarded by some as a sin, however sometimes it helps to print out a page or a section so you can go though and highlight important things that you want to remind yourself of. For example the Keyboard Shortcuts guide for the popular shortcuts is handy and you could print it out and laminate it for quick reference.
Perhaps I’m a little odd but I love to read user manuals, I love trying to discover a feature that I didn’t know was there.
Remember you never stop learning, until you pick up the manual you may not have even started.