Customizing Final Cut Pro Keyboard Shortcuts

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the February, 2009, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

I read somewhere that Final Cut Pro has 650 menus. Sheesh! No wonder we sometimes get lost trying to find the menu to do something.

Final Cut 6 also has 392 keyboard shortcuts. (I know — I just counted them! I’ll show you how to do the same a little later in this tutorial.) However, even with almost 400 shortcuts to choose from, sometimes, we just don’t have the ones we need.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could customize our own keyboard shortcuts?

Ta-DAH! We can. Even better, this process is the same for Final Cut Pro 4, HD, 5, and 6; though the default keyboard shortcuts differ between versions.

First, start Final Cut, though you don’t necessarily need to open any projects.

Keyboard Shortcut

Select Tools > Keyboard > Customize…

Keyboard Shortcut

The keyboard illustration depends upon what keyboard you have connected to your Mac. In this case, this shows a full-size keyboard. If you have a laptop, the keyboard will look like your laptop keyboard.

A very useful window layout, to me, is the Two-Up layout (Windows > Arrange > Two-up). It makes the Browser and Timeline smaller so that the Canvas and Viewer can be bigger. The problem is that it doesn’t have a keyboard shortcut.

Hmmmm…. If the default window layout is Control+U, seems to me it would be really useful if this Two-up layout were Shift+Control+U. Here are the steps to create this shortcut.

Keyboard Shortcut

To prevent accidental changes to your keyboard shortcuts, the keyboard is locked. This is not for security, but simply to prevent accidental changes.

Unlock the keyboard by clicking the lock icon in the lower left corner.

Keyboard Shortcut

Next, in the search box on the right, type a portion of the menu you want to turn into a shortcut. You need to type the text exactly as it appears in the menu, but you don’t need to type the entire phrase. For instance, here I’ve just typed Two and it found the window menu I was looking for.

NOTE: You can also type a keyboard shortcut and it will find the menu that the shortcut is assigned to. I use this a lot to figure out what various key combinations do.

Keyboard Shortcut

Across the top of the keyboard image are a series of tabs. These correspond to the various combinations of modifier keys that can be held while typing a shortcut. (It is interesting to me that these tabs don’t allow any three key shortcuts — probably because they had more than enough keys using the ten tab combinations that they have. Ten? Yes. Nine that use modifier keys and one that doesn’t.)

Since we want to make Shift+Control+U our new keyboard shortcut to switch to the Two-up window layout, click the Control+Shift tab.

Keyboard Shortcut

Then, from the search results box, where Two-up is displayed, drag the ICON on top of the letter U.

When you let go, you have a new keyboard shortcut.

Keyboard Shortcut

Notice that at the right side of the search results window, the new shortcut is listed next to the menu item.

Hmmm… remember at the beginning of this technique I mentioned that there are 392 default shortcuts in Final Cut 6? Well, here’s how to get a complete list of them.

Keyboard Shortcut

With the keyboard still displayed, go to Tools > Keyboard Layout.

If you want to export a list that is read best in Excel — a tab-delimited table — select Save Grid as Text. If you want a list that is more easily read in Word, select Save All Commands as Text. The other two choices allows you to group your shortcuts prior to export.


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