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Final Cut Pro X: Often Faster if you Don’t Click
Iain Anderson on Mon, March 30th 0 comments
Sometimes mouse clicking can get in the way of a more speedy and efficient workflow. And that's true for Final Cut Pro X. Iain Anderson shares tips on faster editing without the clicking.

There are a number of tasks that can be performed more quickly in FCP X if you don’t click, but instead simply hover. Here, we’ll take a look at the finer points of hovering, when it’s a great idea and when it’s merely going to save you a little time. Sometimes it really is the little things that count.

Adding keywords to a  clip while merely hovering over it? Sure!

Adding keywords to a clip while merely hovering over it? Sure!

Keywording

This one’s a big one—it’s much faster to apply keywords if you don’t click on anything at all. How? Start by pressing Command-K to open up the Keywords window, and make sure the Keyword Shortcuts disclosure triangle is pointing down, revealing the lower half of the window.

Next, you need to figure out what keywords you want to use, and apply them to one of the clips in your event. That way, they’ll become Keyword Collections in this Event, and will also slot themselves into the shortcut areas in the lower half of the Keywords window. If you prefer, you can type into these shortcut fields directly.

Now that you have your shortcuts ready to go, make sure you deselect the current clip in your event by clicking on the grey background to the right of the clip thumbnails. This is important—with a selection, keywords are going to be added to the selected clip. Without a selection, they’ll be added to whatever clip you’re hovering over.

The trick, then, is to have your left hand ready to press the shortcut key: Control-1, Control-2, etc. that corresponds to the keyword to want to add, and your right hand on the mouse or trackpad. Hover over each clip in turn, then press the key. No clicking, and super fast.

Pro tip: if you find a selection on a clip and you don’t want it, press Option-X to clear the in and out points.
The white dot indicates the clip shown in the Inspector—no need to select.

The white dot indicates the clip shown in the Inspector—no need to select.

Adjust Clips Without Clicking

Clicking and selecting works, but you don’t have to select if you don’t want to. Just like before, click on the grey background area to deselect the current clip. Now, you’ll see a small white dot on the top clip under the playhead. That’s the clip that can be adjusted in the Inspector, and if that’s the one you want, you don’t need to click to select it at all.

From left to right, the result of pressing [, ] and \ — and the right side is red because it’s the first frame in that clip.

From left to right, the result of pressing [, ] and \ — and the right side is red because it’s the first frame in that clip.

Selecting Edit Points Without Clicking

It’s also possible to select edit points with keys, rather than having to click on small targets near the ends of clips. Turn Snapping on (press N if necessary) then hover near the edit point you want to change. Press [ to select the out point just before it, ] to select the in point just after, or \ to select both. You can now trim a frame at a time (or roll if you selected both) by using the comma and period (full stop) keys. Add Shift for < and > to move by ten frames at once.

With skimming active, there’s no need to click if you want to play back from the current frame—just press Space. There’s also no need to click if you want to insert  (press W) or connect (press Q) the selected clip from your Event. You can click, it’s just unnecessary.

Just press C if you want to select the primary storyline clip under the playhead.

Just press C if you want to select the primary storyline clip under the playhead.

Selecting Clips Without Clicking

Sometimes, though, you do indeed want to explicitly select a clip, and you can do that without clicking too—press C.

Here, C would select the bottom clip, but Option-click selects the top clip and moves the playhead too.

Here, C would select the bottom clip, but Option-click selects the top clip and moves the playhead too.

Selecting and Moving the Timeline

Finally, sometimes you want the opposite—you want a specific clip selected, and you want the regular playhead (not just the skimmer) to stay on top of it. (When dealing with complex multi-layered timelines, hovering just isn’t enough.) The quickest way to achieve that is to Option-click on the clip you want, which selects and also moves the playhead. That way, you can leave the timeline and head to the Inspector, and you know exactly what you’ll get.

Most of the time, though—hover away. You may be used to clicking, and clicking may well work, but it’s often not the fastest way to get the job done.

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