(max) documentation and help

Max comes with an extensive, built-in help system, electronic documentation, and tutorials.

help in patchers

While working in a patcher, you have a variety of help and assistance options available.

<option>-click on any object (object, message, UI element, etc.) to bring up a working help patcher that explains what the object does and provides working examples. Help patchers often have multiple tabs, or multiple patchers, within the help patcher window. The ? tab will list other related objects. You can unlock and edit help patchers, or copy and paste from them into your patcher.

As long as you haven’t turned off “Assistance” in the preferences or Options menu, mousing over object inlets and outlets will open popup windows that describe the inlet’s function. It will tell you what data it receives or outputs at that inlet/outlet, and it will tell you if the inlet/outlet is “hot” or “cold” (red or blue). Outlets are generally hot, meaning if the object executes its function it normally sends data out each of its outlets. Cold inlets receive and store data messages but do not cause the object to execute its function and output data. Hot inlets trigger object execution and data output. Almost always, the hot inlet is the left-most inlet of an object. Some objects do also execute functions when receiving data in other inlets.

If assistance is on, mousing over an object will bring up a short description of the object’s function in the status bar at the bottom of the patcher window. Mousing over a makenote object will bring up “makenote: Generate a note-on/note-off pair.”


The Max manual is in electronic form. Go to the Help menu and select “Max Help” from the list of options. You can search within the Help window, and you can even follow a link (in the Getting Started section) to learn how to use the documentation system.


Max comes with an rich set of interactive tutorials. It’s conceivable that you could ditch me entirely and just work through the tutorials to learn Max. However, I would argue that it does help to have a guide. You access the tutorials either through the Max documentation, or by navigating to the help menu and choosing one of the tutorial sections: Max Tutorials, MSP Tutorials, or Jitter Tutorials. Start with the Max Tutorials.

You should work through the first six tutorials in the basics section for reinforcement to what I talked about in class during the first week.


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