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FCP X 10.1 Upgrade: Guide To Libraries, Part 2

Check out our Final Cut Pro: Core Training: Clips: Import and Organize course!

In part 1 we learned just what a Library is, where it can live, best practices for upgrading from previous FCP X versions, and how the built-in backup system works. Here in part 2, we will explore how the Library package system effects our editing and media management.

Copying/Moving Between Events/Libraries

There are two options that make copying and moving whole Events between Libraries, or media assets between Events very easy. The first option is to drag-and-drop inside the Libraries pane, between Events & Libraries on the same drive. Or drag while holding the Option key when copying between different drives.

Figure 1

The second method are the Copy To and Move To options in the File menu. When one or more media assets are selected, the options read “Copy Clip To Library” or “Move Clip To Library”. When an Event is selected these change to “Copy Event To Library” and “Move Event To Library”. Obviously, copy means to make a duplicate. Move means to place it in the new location, with no trace of it left in the original location. Be aware that when using these File menu commands to move a media file to a new Library, it creates a new Event for the media file(s).

Figure 2

When copying or moving media between Events, and Events between Libraries, you’ll get a warning window informing you linked media will remain linked, pointing to the original. Original media will be physically copied. You’ll also have two check boxes to include Optimized and/or Proxy media, if they exist in that Event.

Figure 3

Editing Between Libraries

When you are working in a Project, and pull media from an Event in a different Library, you will get a warning window. It simply tells you that you are pulling a file from a different Library, and that file will be copied into the current Library you are working in. It also informs you that if this is media stored in an external location outside of the Library package, a linked file, it will remain linked, the original file itself will not actually be copied.

Figure 4

Managing Libraries

How you use a Library will be up to you. But some suggestions would be to create one Library for a specific client, then Events for each production you edit for that client. Or create a Library for a specific production, with a different Event for each scene, photo files, audio files, etc. With the Library paradigm on top of Events, it makes Projects, Keywords, and Smart Collections, media management is now more flexible than ever.

Figure 5

We can also turn libraries on and off. This allows them to be seen, or unseen in the Libraries window pane. Use this for either esthetic reasons, or to save on RAM usage. To turn a Library on, go to the File menu, to Open Library. You’ll see a list of recently opened Libraries, along with three other options. The menu option titled “Other” will be explained in the following paragraph. The “From Backup” will allow you to select one of a Library’s backup copies to open (see part 1 of this article). The beauty of this is that the backup is turned on, shows in the Library pane, with the Library name and the time/date of the backup appended to the name. The original Library is still intact. It is not overwritten, it is not turned off, the two versions exist side by side quite well.

Figure 6

To turn off a Library, select it in the Library pane, then to go the File menu, and select Close Library “[Library name]”. Or right-click and select Close Library in the pop-up menu. It is that easy.

Figure 7

Moving Libraries between different drives is done in the Finder, and is very straightforward. There is no tool inside of FCP X to do this. You simply drag-and-drop a Library from one drive to another in Finder windows. When you go back to FCP X, to open this new Library, go to the File menu, to Open Library, to Other, then click the Locate button to find the new copy. Then click the Open button and it will show up in the Libraries window pane.

Figure 8

I can copy a Library from one drive to the other, inside the Finder, and FCP X will open and access both with no issues at all.

Figure 9

To find out where a Library is located, from within the Libraries pane, mouse over a Library and hold for a second. A yellow Tool Tip window pops up, showing the full file path to the Library.


So after reading over part 1 and part 2 of our Guide to Libraries, you should have a basic understanding of FCP X Libraries, how they work, and how they can enhance your workflow. Media management and editing are much more flexible and powerful now. All of this while keeping the workflow very quick and simple.

Want to learn more of all the features in Final Cut Pro X 10.1? Watch these video courses.

Check out our Final Cut Pro: Core Training: Clips: Import and Organize course!

Ben Balser

Ben Balser | Articles by this author

Ben Balser studied educational psychology at Loyola University, and after retiring from a 20+ year IT career, now produces, consults, teaches, and rents equipment for media production as a full time job. As an Apple Certified Master Trainer, he ran the Louisiana Cajun Cutters FCP user group for 8 years, taught post-production at Louisiana State University and has lead their annual teen filmmaking bootcamp. He teaches currently for AATC facilities across the USA and for The Orchard Solutions. He has consulted for higher education, government, broadcast and private production facilities.


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