Final Cut Pro 7: Create your own manual

Final Cut Pro 7 comes with an html-based help system. Many people like to have a single document as a manual. Such a thing is not yet available for Final Cut Pro 7. As Apple own the copyright in the manual, those that have created a single document version cannot legally distribute it. However, if you own Final Cut Pro 7, you can use these instructions to make your own manual:
diy_fcp7_manual

You will first make all the content visible using TextWrangler from Bare Bones Software, and then combine the whole help system into a single document using Pages, Apple’s word processing application – which is part of iWork.

The trial version of Pages was probably installed with OS X on your machine. However after trying it for 30 days (after you first start iWorks), the trial version cannot save or print documents, so if your trial period is up, additional instructions follow.

The only parts of the manual that don’t transfer well are a few tables. The links no longer work, but you can copy the linked text and find it pretty quickly.

Make all content visible

When you first go to a section with disclosure arrows, they default to being closed:

fcp7_manual-b4

This means you have to click each blue arrow, or the words next to each arrow, to see what is hidden:

fcp7_manual-during

To have a version of your documentation that defaults to all the information being visible, you need to change the source HTML of the files. You need to rename all instances of “TaskContentBox” to “TaskContentBox-open” in all the .html files in the help system.

    — Create a copy of the documentation built into FCP7: Control-click the Final Cut Pro application, choose ‘Show Package Contents’ from the shortcut menu
    — In the new window that shows the content of FCP, navigate to “Contents:Resources:English.lproj”
    — Create a copy of the “finalcutpro_help” folder by dragging it elsewhere on your Mac, outside the Final Cut Pro window
    — Start “TextWrangler” and choose “Find…” from the “Search” menu
    — Switch back to the Finder while Text Wrangler is still open and navigate to where you created the copy of the FCP help system, navigate inside to “en/finalcutpro” and drag the “usermanual” icon to the “Multi-File Search” area of the TextWrangler Find dialogue box.
    — Search for “TaskContentBox” (including the quote marks)
    — Replace With “TaskContentBox-open” (again including the quote marks)
    — Click “Replace All”

doc_find_n_replace2

    — Make sure the confirmation dialogue looks like this:
    doc_confirm
    i.e. Don’t Confirm Saves
    — After a short while 698 of your help files will have been modified.
    — Quit out of TextWrangler
    — Go to the top level of the “finalcutpro_help” folder and drag the “index.html” icon to your browser application.

You now have a help system will default to all the information being visible, and it displays more quickly in a browser than Apple Help Viewer.

Combine into a single document

    — Start Pages with a ‘File:New’ blank word processing document.
    — Go to the ‘Insert’ menu and use the ‘Choose…’ command
    — Navigate to where you put your copy of the ‘finalcutpro_help’ manual
    — Navigate to “finalcutpro_help:en:finalcutpro:usermanual” to see a list of all the html files in the documentation system
    — Make sure it is sorted by name
    — Click ‘chapter_preface_section_0.html’
    — Shift-click ‘chapter_preface_section_3.html’ to select the four preface files.
    — Click the ‘Insert’ button
    — Again ‘Insert:Choose…’
    — Select from ‘chapter_1_section_0.html’ to ‘chapter_glossary_section_0.html’
    — Click the ‘Insert’ button
    — You might also want to use the ‘Edit:Find:Find…’ to search for all instances of ‘Copyright © Apple Inc. All rights reserved.’ and replace them with nothing.

If you have a trial version of Pages (a free download from Apple) but you have used it for more than 30 days, you won’t be able to save or print. However, you can copy text and pictures from documents in Pages and paste them into TextEdit documents.

My trial version of Pages ’08 couldn’t deal with copying 50MB to the system clipboard and crashed, so I’ve modified the instructions by copying from Pages into a single TextEdit document in three stages:

    — Insert ‘chapter_1_section_0.html’ to ‘chapter_glossary_section_0.html’ followed by ‘chapter_1_section_0.html’ to chapter_40_section_15.html’ only.
    — Use the ‘Edit:Find:Find…’ command to search for all instances of ‘Copyright © Apple Inc. All rights reserved.’ and replace them with nothing.
    — Use ‘Edit:Select All’ and ‘Edit:Copy’ to copy all the text and pictures.
    — Create a new document in TextEdit.
    — ‘Edit:Paste’ into the new document.
    — Save the new document as ‘Final Cut Pro 7 manual’
    — To simplify the clipboard, select a single word in the TextEdit document and ‘Edit:Copy’ it.
    — Switch back to Pages, close the current document
    — Start a ‘File:New’ blank word processing document
    — ‘Insert:Choose…’ ‘chapter_41_section_0.html’ to chapter_69_section_14.html’
    — Use the ‘Edit:Find:Find…’ command to search for all instances of ‘Copyright © Apple Inc. All rights reserved.’ and replace them with nothing.
    — ‘Edit:Select All’ ‘Edit:Copy’
    — Switch to the ‘Final Cut Pro 7 manual’ document in TextEdit.
    — ‘Edit:Paste’ ‘File:Save’
    — To simplify the clipboard, select a single word in the’Final Cut Pro 7 manual’ document and ‘Edit:Copy’ it.
    — Switch back to Pages, close the current document
    — Start a ‘File:New’ blank word processing document
    — ‘Insert:Choose…’ ‘chapter_70_section_0.html’ to chapter_glossary_section_0.html’
    — Use the ‘Edit:Find:Find…’ command to search for all instances of ‘Copyright © Apple Inc. All rights reserved.’ and replace them with nothing.
    — ‘Edit:Select All’ ‘Edit:Copy’
    — Switch to the ‘Final Cut Pro 7 manual’ document in TextEdit.
    — ‘Edit:Paste’ ‘File:Save’

This document should act as a stop-gap until Apple add an official one to the help system. If you want to feedback to Apple that you’d like the documentation system changed, visit this page on the Apple site.

If you’d like to make similar single-document manuals for other applications in Final Cut Studio, their locations are listed in this post.

Visit my Final Cut home for more plugins and tips
finalcuthomethumbnail

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5 comments
  1. Pete said:

    Great info on Final Cut Pro. Im trying to learn it now and this had a lot resource. Great screen shots and everything. I wish more books were written like this.

    Thanks again.

    Peter Weis
    Composer, Audio engineer

  2. Richard said:

    Thank you for these instructions. There is no reason fro Apple FCP team to not include a pdf of the help so it can be printed out like the used to.

  3. Aaron said:

    So I used this tut but saved myself the hassle of dealing with Pages/ Word/ etc. After replacing all the TextConentBox entries, I just dropped the finalcutpro_help folder back in it’s default location :-). Using Safari to view the help file (saved as a bookmark) makes it so simple, and there is no extra pdf file I have to store away somewhere where I’ll remember it :p. Thanks for the tip!

  4. Aaron said:

    But for some reason, the Appendix A (which lists keyboard shortcuts) “magically” disappears when viewing the manual through Safari. It’s still there in the crappy help viewer. It’s the only option which doesn’t show up in Safari…weird.

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