DJI Mavic Pro: The Missing Handbook: Basic Operations

So, you bought a Mavic Pro?  What a coincidence!  So did I!

And if you’ve done much reading on it, you’ve probably determined two things: The manual covers the bare minimum, and there’s a serious lack of non-video information on how to use these - or, even with the videos, details of operating modes and limitations.  This series of posts (probably 4, possibly a few more) is my attempt to resolve this problem - to write a useful operating manual for the Mavic Pro (and other DJI products with similar operating modes, though this is purely focused on the Mavic Pro).

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Comments from Blogger)

2017-07-09 by quiinc

This is a wonderful and concise set of instructions. Glad you put it together.

2017-07-10 by Tom

Only one thing that I question in your comments about leaving on the camera gimbal lock. Here is a comment that I feel is accurate about this issue: So. The power requirements to turn a tiny motor with considerable force is an order of magnitude or two less than what it takes to produce heat in the stator windings hot enough to “burn” anything. You can run a small motor with quite a bit of torque off an AA battery and tens of milliamps of current. To heat those stator coils hot enough to start damaging adhesives, lubricants, laquer insulation on the windings, etc. etc. etc. would take running like 3-5A through the thing.

No, keeping the gimbal from moving will not damage the motors.

2017-07-10 by stone

You mention that pulling both sticks down and towards each other starts the propellers and also shuts them down. Is this true all the time? Is doing this and shutting the props down a concern while flying at higher altitudes?

2017-07-10 by Russell Graves

Tom -

If you look at the current Mavic Pro release notes (, you’ll see an entry on page 11:

"Minimized an overheating issue resulting from not removing the gimbal clamp after powering on the aircraft."

It’s possible that refers to an issue with the intake vent, but the clear gimbal cover blocks more airflow than the gimbal lock, so I assumed that was in reference to the gimbal windings. And other people have run into issues in the past with the gimbal overheating from the lock being installed.

It seems likely enough to be a problem that I felt it was worth mentioning.

2017-07-10 by Russell Graves

In theory, that’s only valid “for emergencies only” with the default settings. I’m not sure what qualifies as an emergency or not by the DJI standards. I would say that you should avoid stick movements that could be interpreted as a shutdown command while flying, yes.

2017-07-10 by Tom

Thanks, Russell. I guess flyers have gotten away with leaving the gimbal lock on a few times, but am sure it isn’t a good practice especially if the Mavic went airborne as the time to recover after the warning might be long enough to cause damage. I did it only once when I was making menu changes in my home office and I immediately saw the warning and shut the Mavic down to remove the clamp.

2017-07-10 by stone


Thanks for the tip, but it’s pretty scary to think that there’s a simple stick gesture that can make your drone instantly fall out of the sky.

2017-07-10 by Russell Graves

I don’t fully understand the details of what the DJI system considers an “emergency,” and I can’t say it’s been something I’ve felt like experimenting deeply with…

2017-07-10 by Russell Graves

Per further research, if you set it to “In Emergencies Only,” it should only allow motor shutdown if the flight controller detects a critical error. DJI being DJI, I’d still fly with a policy of avoiding that stick combination.

2017-07-10 by Tom

Someone was telling me they recently did a demo of shutting down the propellers in the air with significant altitude. The pilot positioned the sticks in the lower V and the result even shook up the experienced pilot! It took some time to get the motors and props turning again to recover. Guess it even tumbled and twisted around and if the altitude hadn’t been high enough, it would have been a crash. It is a concern to think about if you ever let one of your novice “student pilots” try out flying your Mavic.

2017-07-10 by Russell Graves

My student pilots? Hah. They can fly their own drones!

Realistically, there’s no need to be using full deflection on multiple sticks at the same time. But, yes, it’s worth cautioning people about. In theory, the “Emergency Only” setting will prevent in flight motor shutdown, but it’s not something I intend to experiment with.

2017-07-11 by Unknown

Very thorough, one thing I might note. In the RTH section you stated that if anything happens to the link between the remote and Mavic the craft will RTH. Only if it is setup in the menu, as there are 3 options when connection is lost.
1. Return to Home
2. Hover in place
3. Land
I would hate for someone to assume it is automatically set to the option that makes the most sense. While their drone is hovering stationary with no camera feed or telemetry to know otherwise. I don’t know what good landing or hovering in place would do if you do not have connection to do anything else with. So as stated in the blog, check your setting before every flight, make for certain it is set to do what you expect it to do. Great article btw

2017-07-15 by Russell Graves

Jamison -

As far as I can tell, this option is no longer present in the DJI Go app for iOS. Or, at least, I cannot find it. What’s the menu path to it?

2017-07-19 by Russell Graves

Never mind - I found it. It’s buried in the Advanced settings, so it’s unlikely that someone would mess with it. I’ll get that added in.

2017-07-22 by UNFStudent

Not sure how I ended up at your blog, but glad I did. Great explanations and is truly the “missing manual”. Looking forward to your future entries.

2017-07-28 by qwRad

Excellent guide and thanks for the work you have put into this. One suggestion would be to add a paragraph of caution regarding the remote controller guard.

I have been traveling for half a year with my Mavic at the moment and initially had one too but noticed a big problem with it. The small holes that are for the buttons stuck on to my 5D button and wrenched it loose at some point while the remote was in a soft bag inside my backpack since the guard is not 100% rigid. Luckily the button works fine after just pushing it back into place.

I’ve since moved to keeping the remote in its own hard case, luckily one for gopro accessories was a perfect fit with some foam.

2017-08-11 by Alex

Good article except the part about Android. DJI Go runs perfectly fine on my HTC 10 and on countless other devices. Sure some people might have issues… But please don’t generalize.

2017-08-17 by Unknown

Great article !
I have a question regarding calibration. I see some posts saying calibrate everytime, while the DJI manual states to calibrate only when the app says so. Any comments ?

2017-08-17 by Russell Graves

Plenty of people have issues with Android and nobody has issues with iOS. That’s enough to defend my recommendation. Android is a perfectly good platform, but the DJI app does not run well on it.

2017-08-17 by Russell Graves

Follow DJI’s recommendations.

In general, if I see a compass calibration message, I’ve found that it means I’m near some source of interference, and if I launch from a different point, I have no trouble - so I treat it more as a “Go find somewhere magnetically quieter to power up” indication. If I were to calibrate by interference, the middle of the sky would not match properly.

I haven’t once calibrated my compass in the dozen+ flight hours for this set of posts. It’s been perfectly fine.

2017-09-18 by Jeff Blake

Russell, thanks for these posts. You mentioned you use your Mavic primarily for still photography as do I. Whenever using an intelligent flight mode, I can no longer shoot in Raw format (only JPEG) until I land, power down and then turn it back on. Have you ever encountered this, and is there a workaround?

2017-09-18 by Russell Graves

That’s bizarre. I’ve not run into that - I normally shoot in RAW + JPEG for professional work, and I can definitely do that with intelligent flight modes.

2017-09-20 by Jeff Blake

Thanks for your reply, I’ve seen a few other people mention on message boards that they’ve had the same issue. Just updated my firmware, will check in the morning to see if it’s been fixed. Thanks!

2017-09-25 by Tom

Hi Russell,
It has been awhile since I visited your blog and I totally agree with all of your tips. The only other tip I might suggest is when you mention storing the Mavic in the bag head down I recommend the following: Install the controller first with the guard and velcro strip, then install the Mavic head down with the legs facing inboard. I also have found that by doing so, I can actually keep the leg extenders on which I find to almost be mandatory by me. They provide an additional way to know the direction of the mavic in the air and give plenty of ground clearance when taking off and landing. I also use the white strobe light from Firehouse mounted on the back to give me better sight of where the Mavic is located. I’d send you a photo of the Mavic in the bag, but do not see how I can include a photo in this message to you. Thanks for all you do with this blog!

2017-09-29 by Unknown

Great exert,but as this is designed for all Mavic users and the Mavic app is designed to work on both Apple and Android plus there are just as many have problems with Apple devices as Android devices I don’t think you should be so biased towards Android and suggest to use Apple only. I have no problem using my Samsung S5 and Samsung Tab4 and have never had crash with either and only the odd disconnect with the Tab4 it’s how you set them up and use them plus the updates and firmware has vastly improved the can not be biased with this type of article.

2017-09-30 by Russell Graves

It’s my blog. I’m allowed to be biased, as much as you assert otherwise.

I know of individuals who have no issues with Android, and quite a few people still have issues with it on a regular basis. On the other hand, issues with Apple products are very rare, and seem to be mostly limited to bad cables and the occasional problem after a firmware update (where it simply refuses to work, instead of being unreliable and crashing in flight).

This topic comes up regularly at a local gathering of Part 107 operators (and a few hobbyists). All the Part 107 operators (the bulk of the group) are using Apple hardware for flying, even if they use Android as a personal phone, and nobody has issues. People flying with Android tend to cluster in the corner discussing airplane mode, restarting phones, and alternate firmwares to help make things more reliable. The contrast is very, very clear.

Your individual experience may be that Android works, but in the bulk, it’s still quite clear that the DJI app is unreliable on many, many Android devices. I don’t know why, and I don’t particularly care why - from the perspective of a critical flight instrument, I’ll recommend the more reliable option every time, and, right now, Apple is more reliable.

If that changes at some point in the future, I’ll certainly revisit my recommendation, but I stand by it at this point. I simply don’t care about phone holy wars, I care about reliable flight control operation.

2017-09-30 by Russell Graves

Tom - thanks for the tips! I’d love to see a photo. There’s a contact form on the right - send me a message there and I’ll respond, and you can share the photo via email.

2017-11-01 by JimInPT

This is a wonderful effort and I wish I’d had access to it when I was a Mavic newbie - very helpful!

Thanks for all your work.

2017-12-26 by Grunt

Great read - well written and a great help to a Mavic noob.

Thanks for taking the time to publish.

2020-04-07 by Richard

Just like to mention that this superb set of posts is still useful to beginners like me in 2020 and will probably continue to be useful to many others well into the future. Awfully glad I found it. Thanks very much.