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Using Keyboard Shortcuts in Final Cut Pro

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 3/9/2010

Keyboard shortcuts can make editing quicker and easier. Learn some of the most popular ones for Final Cut Pro so you can take your editing skills to the next level.

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    Quick Keys

    Editing your digital video projects can be a strenuous and time consuming process. It is often difficult to translate your vision to the interface of a non-linear editing program like Final Cut Pro. Many professionals have taken to using “quick key” commands to speed up the process and make editing more intuitive.

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    Modifier Keys

    Quick keys, also called modifier keys, allow you to do simple or repetitive functions and transitions in Final Cut Pro simply by hitting a key combination on the keyboard. What this means is instead of using a mouse, going to the tool bar and selecting the “razorblade” cutting tool you can just hit a few key strokes and the selection will be made. Final Cut Pro is an Apple based program so there are a few specific keys that you will be focusing on when using quick keys. More than anything else you will be using the Control, Shift, Command/Apple, and Option/Alt keys for quick keys. These are often “gatekeeping” keys that you hold down when selecting a second key for this function.

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    Restoring Settings

    The most standard quick key that gets used is to return the Final Cut Pro interface to its original window setting. When working in the program you often move and reshape many of the windows, including the Timeline and Canvas. When you want to get all the windows back to the default positions you hit Control and U together.

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    Video Playback

    When you are playing either a subclip in the Canvas or an entire sequence in the Timeline you can hit the Space Bar to start and stop the clip or sequence. If you hit K it will pause the play, and J will allow it to play backwards. You can use L to play forward faster, and if you hit it several times it will be a progressively faster forward play.

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    Check on Other Applications

    Since editors often have a number of applications running in unison with Final Cut it is important to periodically check what else is open. If you hit Command and H together it will show you all the applications that are currently open. If you want to hide one of these applications you can hit Control and H.

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    The Timeline

    Depending on whether you are making tight cuts or large moves in the Timeline you may want to zoom in or zoom out, which will make the audio and video tracks either bigger or smaller. To zoom in you hit Control and the + key together, and if you want to zoom out you will hit Control and the – key together. If you hit Shift and Z you can fit the entire sequence into the Timeline window. Also, when you are editing together certain things in the Timeline you may set in and out points to mark when certain things are occurring within clips. These are often small and easy to lose when you are working on a large editing project,. If you hit Shift and I, you will be taken immediately back to the last point from where you are currently at in the Timeline.

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    Favorite Effects

    If you are blending a number of audio and video effects in your project you may begin to set favorites so you have easy access to the ones you are using repeatedly. For your favorite video and audio effects you can hold down Control and Shift and then use the number pad to call up your nine possible favorites that you have set. This works for a total of nine audio and video effects, not nine of each.

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    Quick Edits

    When working in the Timeline you may want to make quick edits without having to drag all of the clips around. If you want to delete a clip from the Timeline and have all the following video and audio blocks realign themselves to where that clip once was you can hit Shift and Delete. If you want to quickly load text into the Viewer you can hit Control and X. If you would like to use the Ripple tool from the tool bar just hit R. When you are done with a project you can quickly export the sequence to a Quicktime file by hitting Command and E together.

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    Just Scratching the Surface

    These are just a few of the main quick keys, but there are dozens more that can make your Final Cut editing experience less of a chore. Learning them is just another part of getting your feel for digital video editing, and it is often what sets apart the efficiency of a professional from the ordinary novice.