Manage Libraries in Final Cut Pro X

By Nov 11,2016 11:58 am

Since the release of Final Cut Pro X 10.1, my email has exploded with questions - and, it probably won't surprise anyone to learn that media management is number one on the list. So here are the answers to common questions, along with some "secret tips" that make working with libraries easier. This is the first of four articles on media management. Here are the other three:

Apple has also provided additional resources in two white papers:


A Library is a container that holds media, events, and projects. You can have an unlimited number of libraries open at once and you can open and close libraries as needed. Final Cut requires a minimum of one library to be open at all times.

NOTE: Even though computers are using faster SSD and Fusion drives, I still recommend that libraries and media be stored on a fast second drive or RAID. In my case, I store all my libraries on an attached Thunderbolt RAID.

Events are folders that are contained inside libraries. A library must contain at least one event. There is no limit to the number of events that can be contained in one library. The easiest way to to think of an event is that it is a folder, or bin, that stores stuff.

NOTE: In earlier versions of Final Cut Pro X, there was a limit of about 2,000 clips that could be stored in an event. That limit was, essentially, removed.

Projects are the instructions on how to edit our clips; they are now analogous to sequences in Final Cut Pro 7.

Media is stored in libraries, or referenced by libraries, and can be moved or copied between projects, events, or libraries.

Working with libraries

To open a library, select File > Open Library and select from the recent library list.

manage libraries in fcp

To open a library that isn't on the list, select File > Open Library > Other. This displays a list of all the libraries that Final Cut knows about.

manage libraries in fcp

To open a library that you know exists, but Final Cut does not display in its list of libraries, click the Locate button in the bottom left corner. Select the library you want to open from the File Picker window that appears.

To clear the list of recently opened libraries, select File > Open Library > Clear Recents. This list repopulates based on the libraries that you either reopen or create.

manage libraries in fcp

To close a library, select the library you want to close, then do one of the following:

  • Select File > Close Library [name]
  • Right-click anywhere in the Libraries list and select Close Library [name]

manage libraries in fcp

Secret library tips

To open Final Cut with a specific library selected, right-click the Final Cut icon in the dock and select the library you want selected after FCP opens.

NOTE: All other open libraries will also open when you use this tip.

manage libraries in fcp

To open Final Cut with ONLY one library open, regardless of how many libraries were open when you last quit Final Cut, press and hold the Option key as FCP opens. Then, select the library you want to open from the list.

manage libraries in fcp

NOTE: You can not close the last remaining open library inside Final Cut. To close a library that you no longer want, open a different library, so that there is always one open library in FCP.

manage libraries in fcp

Final Cut Pro X always requires at least one library, containing at least one event to be open. To open FCP with an empty library and event (and all other libraries closed), press and hold the Option key when starting FCP from the dock and click the New button in the bottom left corner.

manage libraries in fcp

Remember, libraries can be named anything and stored anywhere.

NOTE: Because libraries contain media and render files, be sure to store these to a high-speed storage device. And, I continue to recommend not storing media to the boot drive.

manage libraries in fcp

To open a specific library, double-click the library icon in the Finder.

  • If you double-click a library, it will be added to the existing libraries inside Final Cut.
  • If you OPTION-double-click a library, Final Cut will display the "Pick a Library" list. Click the Cancel button and FCP will open with only that library.
  • If FCP is already open, double-clicking a library file in the Finder adds the library to the open libraries already displayed in Final Cut Pro X.

Library backup

To backup a Library database, go to Final Cut Pro > Preferences > General and make sure Library backups is turned on. This defaults to storing backups in your Home directory. You can specify another location from the pop-up menu.

manage libraries in fcp

NOTE: This backup also includes backups for every project and event database contained in that library. It does not backup media. This makes archiving library data easy, because you don't need to backup the media contained in the library, just the database.

By default, library backups are stored in: [Home directory] > Movies > Final Cut Pro Backups . As you can see, the library database is not that big. (On the other hand, these are not large projects.) Backups are made every 15 minutes.

manage libraries in fcp

Restoring libraries from backups

In the Libraries list, select the library you want to restore and choose File > Open Library > From Backup.

manage libraries in fcp

In the "Restore from" popup menu, select the backup date and time you want to restore from. Or, click Other, to select a different backup file. This backup file is added as a library in the Libraries list.

NOTE: The backups are standard Final Cut Pro library files, so you can also open them by double-clicking them in the Finder.

Libraries are bundles

Libraries act like a file, but they are actually a bundle. Right-click a library name in the Finder and select Show Package Contents.

manage libraries in fcp

Inside, you will find folders containing all events, projects, snapshots, media, and related files. (This is the new incarnation of the old Final Cut Events and Final Cut Projects folders.)

manage libraries in fcp

I STRONGLY recommend you not mess with the files inside this folder for any project you care about. However, if you are looking for ways to access media or project files, this is the place to look.

Deleting a library

Libraries can not be deleted from within Final Cut. Apple made this decision to prevent the accidental erasure of all our work. To delete a library, select it in the Finder and delete it like any other file.


Once you get used to working with Libraries, you'll discover that many of the media management hassles that we had to solve in the past are now gone.

If you are just getting started, be sure to copy all imported media into a library. This will increase the amount of storage you use for your project, but it simplify backups and significantly reduce your media management headaches.

# Recommendation:

This is a basic tutorial about Apple Final Cut Pro X, professional video editing software. However, if video editing is new to you, consider Wondershare Filmroa for Mac(Originally Wondershare Video Editor for Mac). This is a powerful but easy-to-use tool for users just starting out. Download the free trial version below.

Download Win Version Download Mac Version

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Editing guide for Final Cut Pro X
1.1 How to Crop an Image
1.2 How to Add Titles
1.3 How to Add Effects
1.4 How ro make Freeze-Frames and Slow Motion
1.5 How to Create the Ken Burns Effect
1.6 How to Manage Libraries in FCP X
1.7 How to Create a Picture-in-Picture Effect
1.8 How to Create a Chroma-Key (Green-screen) Effect
FCP tricks&tips
2.1 Troubleshooting Tips
2.2 Top 40 Keyboard Shortcuts for FCP X
2.3 10 Cool Plugins for FCP X
2.4 The Best FCP Alternative for Mac
2.5 Top 10 Famous Movies Made By Final Cut Pro