REAPER can be quite confusing and overwhelming at first. Back in 2008 I was a Cubase user but I was looking to switch. People kept recommending me I use REAPER and I decided to give it a go.
My first impressions? I honestly didn’t like it, lol. So I kept trying out many other DAWs.
After a long time and several attempts of using REAPER, I decided to start watching tutorials…and woah. Finally everything just clicked! It took me a long time to fully understand its potential. I mean, back then there was not as much documentation or tutorials like there is today.
But let me tell you, once I got it, I got obsessed! – I was so happy to discover that a DAW can be so customizable. So CPU efficient and lightweight. And that there’s an awesome passionate community creating beautiful things with it.
That’s why I wanted to put together a list with things I wish I knew the first time I tried REAPER.
These should be perfect to kickstart your REAPER Journey! 💙
1. Watch REAPER.fm videos
There’s a bunch of awesome tutorials in the REAPER official page.
Just by watching the basics videos you should have a pretty good grasp of what REAPER can do. There’s a bunch of advanced stuff too!
This is honestly so well put together, every time someone asks me where to start with REAPER, I just tell them to watch the basic videos in the official REAPER page.
2. Fix your defaults
REAPER’s defaults aren’t so great. There’s a lot of things that could be better.
I recommend checking out a free eBook I put together with everything you need to know to setup your REAPER the right way 💪
Check it out 👉 Reapertips - The Perfect Setup eBook
3. Actions menu
Check out the Actions menu! (Shortcut: <key>?<key>)
In here you can add/modify shortcuts. Discover useful stuff. Use the filter to find what you need. You can even put actions together with custom actions!
4. Right click EVERYTHING!
REAPER has a lot of contextual menus.
That means that if you right click on the track panel, you will have a way different set of options than when you click on the timeline.
There’s a lot of places to click and discover useful features!
5. Customize toolbars & screensets
What makes REAPER so powerful is that you can actually switch between many layouts and configurations by just using shortcuts. And while it sounds complicated, it’s actually pretty easy to set up!
It’s all a combination of understanding how to customize toolbars, how docking works, and how to save and recall them using Screensets.
I filmed this quick video to demonstrate how all of that works and also give you some ideas on how to use it.
🎥 How to set up custom layouts + 3 layout ideas:
6. Personal Advice
Here’s my most important advice tho.
Customizing is fun and all but...It can lead to a bunch of procrastination.Try not to get stuck in the infinite customization loop. Trust me I’ve been there many times.
I personally like to separate my mindsets. If I am writing a song, I am super focused on writing the song. That’s where all my creative drain will go. If I have a REAPER customization idea, I just write it down to a list and keep going with my song.
Then in a separate occasion, I can check that list and customize as much as I want!